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Natural Disasters, Healthcare Reform on NCOIL Agenda

State lawmakers attending the annual meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in New Orleans November 19-21 will discuss healthcare reform and funding solutions...
November 17, 2009

State lawmakers attending the annual meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in New Orleans November 19-21 will discuss healthcare reform and funding solutions related to natural disasters.

Legislators will hold several meetings on health care, including a November 21 roundtable entitled: Health Reform in Flux: What are the Costs?  NCOIL is in sync with PIA and is expected to pass a resolution in favor of preserving the agents' role in health insurance.
 
On November 19, the Natural Disaster Subcommittee will consider a proposal regarding public-private catastrophe financing, sponsored by Rep. George Keiser (ND).  The proposal - which would build on long-standing NCOIL efforts to enact comprehensive catastrophe reform - attempts to establish a framework in which a state develops a long-term financing strategy based on an optional state catastrophe pool and on adherence to NCOIL-endorsed statewide building codes and land-use strategies. 

The proposed system, among other things, would offer insurer premium tax credits to encourage participation in the pool and would tie participation to an insurer's market share. PIA National's Natural Catastrophe Working Group has been following this issue at NCOIL for several years.  We will provide written and oral comments to the Subcommittee emphasizing the need for the insurance industry to be part of a comprehensive plan to prepare for natural catastrophes.

Continued State Focus

This particular NCOIL meeting is especially significant, coming at a time when Congress is poised to deal with a spate of insurance-related bills. "It's a very significant meeting. A lot of issues are coming to a head that impact all types of insurance," said NCOIL President James Seward, a state senator from New York.

NCOIL has already made it clear that its position on who should regulate insurance will not change - the states, not the federal government. The organization of state insurance legislators is on record opposed to the Federal Insurance Office Act of 2009 (H.R. 2609).

"We're going to continue to take every opportunity to make the case that insurance regulation has, I think, proven itself in the midst of all this financial collapse," Seward said. "Insurance has been a bright star and beacon in terms of solvency and soundness." At this meeting, Seward will be succeeded as NCOIL President by Kentucky Rep. Robert Damron, who says NCOIL has to be wary of the "era of reform we see out of Washington. Our job has become tougher than ever in terms of preserving state-based regulation," he said.

PIA National Assistant Vice President of Regulatory Affairs David Eppstein davidep@pianet.org will represent PIA at the NCOIL annual meeting.