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August 26, 2013 – Comments made by regulators over the weekend at the summer meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in Indianapolis made it clear that ongoing pushback by SIIA and other stakeholder groups has dampened enthusiasm for new stop-loss regulation.
As an alternative, the NAIC ERISA Working Group agreed to move forward with the preparation of a white paper discussing regulatory issues associated with small employer self-insurance and the use of stop-loss insurance. To initiate this project, the Working Group recently surveyed all 50 states to obtain preliminary data regarding perspectives on regulatory activity.
Survey results included the following:
It was reported that work will continue on this White Paper, with the goal of completion by the end of the year. Individual states could then utilize the findings on an advisory basis.
In Other ERISA Working Group News….
DOL Presentation on New Employee Benefits Security Administration Final Rule on Ex Parte Cease and Desist and Summary Seizure Orders for MEWAs. The DOL made a presentation to the Working Group and reminded them that the ACA authorizes the DOL to issue a cease and desist order ex parte (without prior notice or hearing), and the DOL may issue a summary seizure order when it appears that a MEWA is in a financially hazardous condition. The DOL talked about MEWA regulations, and there was significant discussion regarding insolvent plans and the need to identify and police these better. The DOL mentioned with regard to cease and desist orders and summary seizures that it has expanded its breadth of financial review to include the brokers as well as the fiduciaries of the plans. However, the DOL noted the distinction between unfunded health plans, which pay claims out of their operating budgets, and self-funded health plans, which pay claims from a trust or separate account. The DOL noted that it does not have a good method to locate these unfunded plans prior to an insolvency event. Members of the Working Group asked if the DOL could develop regulations to address this deficiency, but the DOL said it did not think it was feasible to write such regulations.
Sham MEWA Plan Investigations. The regulators then met afterwards in a private session to discuss sham MEWA plan investigations.
We are all familiar with the contractual restrictions, limitations, and prohibitions imposed upon independent benefit plans and third party administrators utilizing major PPO networks. Whether it is restrictive deadlines, an inability to negotiate directly with providers, a prohibition on audits, or an obligation to pay in accordance with terms you’ll never see, many have complained about the apparent inequity established by these contracts. Few, however, have analyzed the network contracts existing between major carriers and their own network providers. One might be surprised to learn that these major carriers and ASOs not only recognize the importance of these items, but assert these rights for themselves! Join The Phia Group’s CEO – Adam V. Russo, Esq. – as well as its Sr. VP & General Counsel – Ron E. Peck, Esq. – as they dissect contractual terms existing between carriers and their network providers, and share the realization that they know exactly what is important to you.
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