The majority of states adjourned the 2019 legislative sessions earlier this year, but five state legislatures and the District of Columbia Council are still holding sessions prior to the 2020 general assemblies convening, as well as two states holding special sessions. Several states have begun the process of prefiling legislation for the 2020 legislative session.
Over the past quarter, state lawmakers have been active in considering and prefiling bills on measures including climate risk, reforms to health insurance markets and costs, public pension plan investments, and many more.
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A bill was introduced in the Florida Senate to repeal the Florida No-Fault Motor Vehicle Law, which requires drivers to carry personal injury protection coverage as part of their auto insurance policies in September. Similarly, the Massachusetts Legislature held a hearing in October on a bill to repeal no-fault motor vehicle insurance. Neither state has held a vote on the legislation. A bill was introduced in the Florida House to regulate peer-to-peer car-sharing in October, including requiring cars to be covered by insurance; requiring car-sharing programs to carry insurance to cover a lapse of coverage when insurance is provided by the owner or driver; and allows specified insurers to seek compensation against insured car-sharing owners and drivers. A bill was also introduced in the Tennessee Legislature requiring peer-to-peer car-sharing services maintain insurance on all shared vehicles, as well as allowing commercial airports to regulate peer-to-peer car-sharing services on airport property. The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation submitted a proposed regulation in September to establish uniform minimum guidelines for determining private passenger automobile insurance.
Flood Insurance and Climate Risk
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill into law in August requiring property sellers to disclose information regarding flood warnings and previous flood insurance policies on the real estate for sale. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill into law in November providing funding to develop a flood insurance pilot program, which would help pay the cost of up to two years of flood insurance for eligible applicants and properties to mitigate disaster recovery efforts from Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence. A bill was prefiled in the Florida Senate for the 2020 legislative session that would require the Florida Economic Estimating Conference to submit a report on climate fiscal responsibility, including an analysis of the estimated impact of climate change on the state, as well as recommendations to remedy natural disaster costs. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law in October mandating that each county and city adopt a comprehensive, long-term plan for the development of municipal land safe from environmental risk including land prone to wildfires, geological hazards, and flooding. The Massachusetts House held a hearing on legislation directing the attorney general to provide a study of the methodology used to create new flood insurance rate maps through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Medical Professional Liability
Legislation enacted in West Virginia in October establishes that minimum staffing requirements suffice as adequate supervision to prevent patient accidents in medical professional liability litigation; however, if the minimum staffing requirements are not met, then the lack of supervision is contributable to a patient’s condition, and this information is admissible in litigation.
Legislation was introduced in the Michigan Senate in September to amend the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act of 1969 by requiring all projects to have an appointed construction safety and health director, as well as a designated alternate construction safety and health director. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a public act in August amending several employment security provisions and protections including the Workers’ Compensation Act, which now requires all self-insured employees to obtain insurance 60 days prior to the date of needed coverage, as well as imposes additional penalties upon employers from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission for noncompliance. The Ohio House referred a bill to committee in September to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), without accompanying physical injury, as reason to collect workers’ compensation and disability retirement for peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers. A bill was introduced in the Wisconsin Senate in October, making changes to the conditions of liability for workers’ compensation benefits for a law enforcement officer or a firefighter (public safety officer) who is diagnosed with PTSD. A bill was introduced in the Florida House in October that would provide that assessments paid by insurers constitute advances of funds to Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Guaranty Association. Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill into law in August raising the financial penalty on employers for wrongful termination of contractors after filing complaint claims to the Delaware Department of Labor.
Other Casualty Issues
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law in October requiring insurers to provide at least a 75-day notice of a nonrenewal of a homeowner’s insurance policy and raises the limit on homeowner insurance claims covered by the California Insurance Guarantee Association to $1 million. Additionally, the California Department of Insurance released a bulletin banning insurers from canceling homeowner insurance policies in fire-prone areas of the state.
The Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner released a proposed rule to amend the Washington Administrative Code mandating coverage for mental health/substance use disorder essential health benefits, rather than allowing coverage to be optional. A committee report was released in November in the New Hampshire Senate on a bill that sets forth guidelines in determining coverage premium rates for those insured under group and individual health insurance markets, and prohibits health carriers from denying coverage to an individual because of pre-existing conditions. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law in October requiring the Franchise Tax Board to report on state financial subsidies paid for health care coverage resulting from the Minimum Essential Coverage Individual Mandate, as well as specifies and effective date of Feb. 1 for enrollment into an individual health benefit plan between Dec. 16 to Jan. 31.
The Massachusetts Senate held a hearing on a bill in November proposing a state plan amendment to the secretary of the office of Health and Human Services providing for a Long-Term Care Insurance Partnership Program, which would allow individuals who purchase long-term care insurance policies deduct up to 50% of the annual premium of the policy, but exceed no more than $3,000 per year. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law in October establishing a Long Term Care Insurance Task Force chaired by the Commission of Insurance and charged with recommending options for establishing a statewide long-term care insurance program by July 1, 2021. The Department of Insurance is also required to produce an actuarial report of those recommendations, to be shared with and approved by the task force by July 2022. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law in August mandating that the Department of Public Health establishes a nursing home labor force program funded through the Equity in Long-Term Care Quality Fund. The Massachusetts House held a hearing on a bill that would establish that any individual eligible for a long-term care insurance policy shall receive a tax credit equal to 20% of the premiums paid.
A bill was prefiled in the New Hampshire House for the 2020 legislative session that would require the commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study to examine the effects of converting the state’s current Medicaid program into a block grant program. A bill passed by the New Jersey Legislature and returned to the New Jersey Assembly in August after an absolute veto by Gov. Phil Murphy would have established the New Jersey Task Force on Medicaid Financial Resource Limits. The New York Legislature passed a bill, now under consideration by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that would provide for automatic enrollment and recertification simplification for Medicaid managed care plans and long-term care plans.
The Illinois Senate is considering a bill, passed by the House, that would create the Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency Act, requiring health insurers to disclose certain rate and spending information concerning prescription drugs. A committee report was released on a bill in the New Hampshire Senate in November, previously passed by the House, prohibiting prescription drug manufacturers from offering coupons or discounts to cover insurance copayments or deductibles.
Public Health Insurance Option
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law requiring health care service plans and insurers to accept payments from specified third-party entities, including an Indian tribe or a local, state, or federal government program.
Other Health Issues
Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill into law in August incorporating the Affordable Care Act (ACA) core patient and consumer protection provisions, as well as pre-existing conditions provisions, into Delaware Insurance Code. It also mandates guaranteed issue and availability of coverage.
Principle-Based Reserving (PBR)
Under the existing law establishing the Office of Principle-Based Reserving, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law in September that requires the insurance commissioner to appoint two additional members to the board of directors to generally represent the public.
Other Life Issues
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that went into effect in September requiring life insurers to notify policyholders when their policy is subject to an increase in insurance charges that are based on the current schedule of mortality rates. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law in September providing standards for identifying a deceased individual whose death may require an insurer to pay benefits or proceeds to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of a life insurance policy, annuity contract, or attained asset account, for locating the designated beneficiaries. The Pennsylvania Legislature adopted a resolution designating the month of October 2019 as “Life Insurance Awareness Month.”
Public Pension Plans
Legislation was introduced in the New York Assembly that would require that public pension funds begin divestment from fossil fuel production companies, including all oil and coal producers. A bill was prefiled in the New Hampshire House for the 2020 legislative session enabling municipalities to exclude principal of retirement and pensions accounts from assets used for eligibility for property tax exemptions. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law enacting the Pension Poaching Prevention Act, which prevents industry professionals from offering veterans and their families benefit services they are financially unable to satisfy, and thereby significantly impacting their retirement futures. A bill was introduced in the New Jersey Senate in November that would forfeit spousal privileges of public pensions and retirement benefits for public officers and employees convicted of certain crimes. The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries released a proposed rule in October lowering the pension discount rate for annual investment returns for the reserve funds of self-insured employers from a rate of 6.0% to 5.9%.
A bill was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly in November requiring insurers and insurance groups to submit corporate governance disclosures to the Department of Banking and Insurance commissioner. The Michigan House referred a bill to committee in December that would grant authority of the director of the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services to regulate holding companies, in order to protect against hazardous actions to policyholders, creditors, and the public. The Illinois Legislature passed a bill, now under consideration of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, amending the Illinois Health Benefits Exchange Law to require insurers to disclose corporate governance structure, policies, and practices to the director of insurance.