Adviser representatives were encouraged by recognition of their role in employee benefits delivery, as a bill allowing for the exclusion of commissions from health reform's medical loss ratio calculations moved forward in late September.

Passage of the Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act, by a 26-14 vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, protects broker revenue from the MLR provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Moreover, it shows that Congress understands "what our people do for a living. That's pretty important and will serve us in a lot of ways," says Janet Trautwein, CEO of the National Association of Health Underwriters.

"The greatest achievement is that recognition, which is significantly greater than it was before," Trautwein told EBA at NAHU headquarters in Washington. But while that recognition has grown, Trautwein cautions she and other members of the adviser community "still have our work cut out for us."

The bill, H.R. 1206, is also supported by other industry groups, including the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

The next step is a vote in the full House, which in late September recessed until after the November elections. Despite the possible loss of momentum, Trautwein remains optimistic the bill will pass during a lame-duck session of Congress, possibly by being tacked onto another bill. Having cleared the rigors of Committee review, Trautwein believes the Act will easily pass a vote in the full House, where it enjoys bipartisan support and backing from 221 co-sponsors.

Prospects for approval in the Senate remain uncertain, but Trautwein notes that the support so far represents a broad spectrum of Democrats and Republicans.

"It's not just about [the] MLR," she adds. "It's about the role of the broker and I think this is a resounding endorsement."

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