Kentucky Chamber is active voice for business community in health care reform

With thousands of pages of regulations circulated by multiple government agencies, tracking implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) can be overwhelming and complicated. Fortunately, the Kentucky Chamber is one of a few business organizations across the country that has provided a voice for employers as the law is being shaped by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Just recently, HHS released proposed regulations to aid states in implementing health benefit exchanges, new marketplaces where consumers and small businesses will be able to comparison shop for health insurance. Teaming up with the Association of Washington Business (AWB) and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Chamber has helped develop comments on white papers before the NAIC Exchanges (B) Subgroup. Because the proposed HHS regulations give states much-needed flexibility on the development of an exchange, these white papers will strongly influence how each state insurance commissioner decides to structure their own exchange. This small group of chambers has also had conference call meetings with top NAIC and HHS officials, and the Chamber has provided comments on exchanges to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

In addition to our work on exchanges, the Chamber joined AWB and the Illinois Chamber in urging the NAIC Professional Health Insurance Task Force to endorse the bipartisan-supported Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act currently before Congress, which would remove insurance agent commissions from the medical loss ratio (MLR). The MLR dictates the amount of money insurance companies must spend on medical services versus administrative costs. Removing commissions from the MLR will allow insurance agents to continue to provide valuable services to small employers in choosing the best health plans for their employees.

The Chamber also applauds the Kentucky Department of Insurance (DOI) for applying for a waiver that would allow the state to gradually implement the new MLR requirements for individual market until 2014. Because an immediate implementation of the requirements could disrupt Kentucky’s fragile insurance market, DOI is asking that the MLR be increased to 65% in 2011, 70% in 2012, 75% in 2013 and to the current requirement (80%) in 2014. DOI noted in its application that Aetna has recently withdrawn from the individual and small group markets, leaving only seven insurers in the individual market in Kentucky. Federal authorities are expected to respond to Kentucky’s request in the next 15-20 days.

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