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Main Street Insurance Agents to Converge On Capitol Hill for 2011 PIA Federal Legislative Summit

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2011 - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) will bring Main Street to Capitol Hill when...
March 28, 2011

Award-Winning Journalist Bob Woodward to Deliver Keynote Address

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2011  - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) will bring Main Street to Capitol Hill when they convene March 30-31 in Washington, D.C. for their 2011 PIA Federal Legislative Summit.

"This year's PIA summit occurs as professional insurance agents face new challenges. Fortunately, the environment on Capitol Hill has undergone a transformation which may benefit our issues," said PIA National President Fred Thomas.

Thomas said PIA members participating in the summit will tell their Members of Congress that America's professional insurance agents remain unalterably opposed to federal regulation of insurance, and are against a so-called optional federal charter for insurers and producers. "Our support for state regulation of insurance remains steadfast, along with our opposition to federal encroachment into our industry and our businesses," he said.

PIA members will also urge their Representatives and Senators to support legislation to exempt health insurance agent commissions from the medical loss ratio (MLR) formula that will be used by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to calculate allowable expenses under the 2010 healthcare reform law. HHS has failed to do this in its interim regulations.

PIA has endorsed the Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2011 (H.R. 1206) sponsored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.). The legislation clarifies that producer compensation will not be considered as part of medical loss ratio (MLR) calculations under the healthcare reform law enacted last year.

"PIA believes that HHS should not be permitted to exclude agents from the marketplace through regulation, especially when the underlying legislation specifically states that licensed insurance professionals will be able to assist their customers in navigating the new health insurance exchanges," said PIA National Director of Federal Affairs Mike Becker. "We believe HHS is acting contrary to the wishes of Congress."

Defund the FIO Study

The Main Street insurance agents will also advocate for Congressional action to reverse a mandate that the newly created Federal Insurance Office (FIO) conduct a study of insurance regulation and make recommendations to Congress.

"This creates an ideological conflict-of-interest," Thomas said. "Federal employees are being tasked with doing a study on, as the law states, 'the costs and benefits of potential federal regulation of insurance across various lines.' In other words, federal employees in the FIO are being charged with the responsibility of recommending to Congress whether the FIO itself should have an expanded mandate and a bigger budget. We already know what the study will show."

During their Capitol Hill visits, PIA members will reiterate their support for common-sense reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that include a 5-year reauthorization and advocate for the creation of a national natural catastrophe plan that supports the availability, affordability and stability of property insurance in catastrophe prone areas, as well as the economic viability of local communities.

The insurance agents will also urge lawmakers to finalize the repeal of the onerous section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This section requires that businesses of all sizes, as well as governments and nonprofits, file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service reporting any purchases they make of goods or services of $600 or more in a tax year from any individual or business, including corporations. Both the House and Senate have already acted in a bipartisan way to repeal the language. PIA will ask lawmakers to work out remaining differences between House and Senate bills, and repeal this burden once and for all.

In addition to legislative meetings on Capitol Hill, PIA members will meet with Bill Murphy, the Administrator of the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) on April 1 to discuss the federal crop insurance program in greater detail.

"This year's summit occurs as many issues with the potential to affect agents' bottom lines remain in focus on Capitol Hill," said PIA National Government Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Blackwell. "Regulatory reform, healthcare reform, natural catastrophe policy, flood insurance and crop insurance are all issues in play. Our members will be addressing them with their elected representatives."

Bob Woodward to Keynote PIA Summit

A journalist whose reporting led to the only resignation of a President of the United States in history, Bob Woodward, will address the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) March 31 during the group's 2011 Federal Legislative Summit.

The topic of Mr. Woodward's keynote address is "From Nixon to Obama."

Bob Woodward has worked for The Washington Post since 1971. He has won nearly every American journalism award, and the Post won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting with Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal. In addition, Woodward was the main reporter for the Post's articles on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks that won the National Affairs Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

Woodward has co-authored or authored twelve #1 national best-selling non-fiction books - more than any contemporary American writer. His books have chronicled the inner workings of seven presidencies, the CIA and the Supreme Court. In All the President's Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976), co-authored with Carl Bernstein, Woodward tells the real story of Watergate and the many crimes and abuses of power in the Nixon Administration that led to the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon and his subsequent resignation in disgrace.

Woodward's other books, The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat (2005), The Choice (1996) on the presidential election, Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom (2000), and The War Within (2008) were national best-sellers for months. His most recent book, Obama's Wars, was released in September, 2010, and became a #1 national best-seller.

In 2004, Bob Schieffer of CBS News said, "Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time."

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM. PIA's web address is www.pianet.com.

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