REPORT FROM THE HOUSE - Representative Gary Knight

This week the 125th Maine Legislature finally adjourned “sine die” (without day) meaning we are officially out-of-session, unless called back for emergency. Our final day was spent acting on legislation upon which the Governor had cast a veto. As the press has reported, we overturned one and upheld the other three, including a $20 million package for R & D. I will not spend time on these bills as I assume that if you are reading this column, you have already read the news and I can not really add to it. Instead, I will continue my reports from each of the standing committees as to the most significant legislation to be acted upon in 2012 from the perspective of the committee chair.
This week, I’ll cover the legislation suggested by the House Chair of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee, Rep. Wes Richardson of Warren. LD 1670 “An Act Relating to Rating on the Basis of Group Size in the Small Group Health Insurance Market," and LD 1497, “An Act Relating to Navigators under Health Benefit Exchanges.”

The original language for LD 1670 was replaced with an amendment. The measure addresses the rating factors for small group health insurance carriers. Sponsored by Senator Jon Courtney of Sanford, the bill was voted out of committee with a unanimous ‘Ought to Pass as Amended Report.’ It then passed the House and Senate, under the hammer, meaning there was not a roll-call vote held because no one requested one. Many of the bills that pass the Legislature do so under the hammer, implying unanimous support for those measures that pass in that way.

The summary for the amendment that replaced the initial LD 1670 language reads:

“Beginning October 1, 2012, the rating factor used by small group health insurance carriers for group size must be combined within the maximum rate differential due to age of 2.5 to 1. The combined rating band for age and group size would be increased to 3 to 1 on January 1, 2014 and, to the extent permitted by the federal Affordable Care Act, further increased each year by a factor of 1 up to a combined 5 to 1 rating band on January 1, 2016. Under current law, the rating factor for group size falls outside of the rating bands.”
Sponsored by Representative Jon McKane of Newcastle, LD 1497 addresses navigators who work in health insurance. The bill is another example of legislation whose originally submitted language was replaced by an amendment to the bill. After one public hearing, and several work sessions, the bill came out of committee as a report divided along party lines.
The summary for the amendment that replaced the initial LD 1497 language reads:
“Only licensed insurance producers may sell, solicit or negotiate health insurance or enroll an individual or employer in a qualified health plan offered through an exchange established or operated in this State pursuant to state or federal law.
The amendment also requires the Superintendent of Insurance to develop criteria for the selection and certification of navigators prior to the establishment of any exchange in this State pursuant to state or federal law and prohibits individuals from acting as navigators without certification from the superintendent unless the individuals are licensed insurance producers.”

Both LD 1670 and LD 1479 were signed by Governor LePage, and, as with other non-emergency bills, go into effect ninety days after the formal adjournment of the session. For this year, that means the bills go into effect on August 30, 2012.

As usual, if you have questions or comments on this bill or others I would be happy to discuss them with you.