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February 19, 2010

Academy Activities

The Academy's Medical Professional Liability Subcommittee sent a comment letter to Reps. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.) and Tom Perriello (D-Va.) Feb. 16 to detail its concerns about a possible repeal of an antitrust exemption for medical professional liability insurers, which are currently protected by the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The subcommittee's letter draws parallels between the use of data aggregation in medical professional liability insurance and other lines of property/casualty insurance, including workers' compensation and automobile insurance. Bill sponsors Markey and Perriello have stated publicly that a decision has not yet been made about whether to include medical professional liability insurers among those targeted in the forthcoming bill.

As a result of a request from congressional staff for clarification of certain issues related to the implementation of medical loss ratios under health care reform, the Health Practice Council has updated Critical Issues in Health Reform: Minimum Loss Ratios. The policy statement highlights relevant issues policymakers should consider before establishing more stringent and broadly applicable minimum loss ratio requirements that employ stricter penalties than those that exist within the current regulatory framework.


Legislative Updates

check markThe White House has indicated it will release its own draft health care reform legislation shortly before the Feb. 25 televised health summit. President Obama, members of his administration and the congressional participants invited to the summit will discuss health care reform and the agreements needed from both parties before Congress can pass comprehensive legislation.

check markHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled a report on Thursday on health insurance premium increases, including details on requested increases in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.

check markPresident Obama signed an executive order on Feb. 18 to establish a bipartisan deficit commission. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is tasked with forging consensus on how to reduce budget deficits to three percent of gross domestic product by 2015. Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, a former U.S. senator, will lead the 18-member panel, which is expected to examine federal entitlement programs.

check markThe Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 24 to hear from WellPoint President Angela Brady after Anthem Blue Cross, a subsidiary of WellPoint, made plans to increase rates by as much as 39 percent for almost 800,000 individual health insurance customers in California.


In the News

The Academy's Jan. 14 letter to congressional leaders regarding merging House and Senate health care reform legislation continues to be cited in various news reports and blogs.

check markA Feb. 3 MSNBC.com article noted the Academy's concerns regarding the effectiveness of an individual health insurance coverage mandate to limit adverse selection. The letter recommended strengthening the mandate by increasing financial penalties and through other non-financial incentives, such as limiting enrollment periods.

check markA health care reform blog by National Review Online (Feb. 17) focused on the Academy's comments regarding the proposed creation of a federal long-term care program prescribed in the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act. The Academy said that as currently structured, the program is likely to suffer from severe adverse selection, which could lead to high premiums and threaten its viability.

News links are to external websites. The Academy is not responsible for the content of these websites