On the last day of the National Association of Health Underwriters’ 2012 Capitol Conference hundreds of attendees received exciting industry news that made the ballroom erupt with a roar of applause and cheers.

"We now officially have a Senate companion bill [to H.R. 1206, the MLR legislation in the House] to be dropped in the next few days," said Janet Trautwein, CEO of the organization.

Trautwein also shared that since the group of more than 700 NAHU members arrived in D.C. nearly a dozen members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation that would remove brokers from the medical loss ratio calculation.

At the event Speaker of the House John Boehner talked to the crowd about the importance of professional insurance agents. When he owned a small business Boehner offered a health care package to his employees; “I needed professionals like you to help shape a plan, [that would] work for my employees and work for our business.”

He also explained how the economy needs more certainty. “It needs a health care system that empowers patients instead of empowering our government,” said Boehner.

The Speaker announced that the CLASS Act will be officially repealed next week, and when referring to the rest of President Barack Obama’s health care law, he called it “the wrong prescription and it’s exactly what the American people didn’t want,” and that it has the potential to “bankrupt our country.”

Also during the event NAHU acknowledged two recipients with its Spirit of Independence Award for the first time in history: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) for their work introducing and sponsoring H.R. 1206.

“I feel like [this is the] Emmy’s or something,” quipped Rogers after a standing ovation. “I’m incredibly honored to receive this … we passionately believe in what you do. [It would be] easy to go home and pull your sheets over your head and say ‘all is lost’,” he added.

Rogers thanked the attendees for being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

“With your determination we will get this done,” he said.

Barrow insisted he “came here to honor ya’ll. … Thanks to each and every one of you for caring enough to get involved.”

Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said agents are critical carpenters of the health care system, adding that they are the most trusted source of information — even more than government websites.

Larsen shared some key actions that must happen with PPACA:

1) The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes SHOP exchanges have to offer an appealing process for employers, employees and brokers.

2) CCIIO has to design tools to help brokers with small business exchange enrollment and that will help them manage their book of business in the exchanges.

“You all are critical partners in the health care system and certainly the implementation of [PPACA],” Larsen concluded.

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