The National Association of Health Underwriters commends the June 30 decision of a National Association of Insurance Commissioners broker task force to endorse a bill in Congress that would provide state insurance regulators more freedom when it comes to the medical loss ratio implementation.

The bill, H.R. 1206, introduced in the House by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), aims to remove brokers from the MLR calculation.

“This unprecedented action by the NAIC shows the commitment of our nation’s insurance commissioners to protecting consumer and employer access to professional health insurance agents and brokers,” says NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein.

Adds Mel Schlesinger, incoming NAHU president and EBA columnist, “NAIC coming out in favor of insurance agents is a very good thing.”

The NAIC’s executive committee must now consider the task force’s decision before the NAIC as a whole can officially support the bill.

“By hopefully having the NAIC endorse this, that kind of support should communicate something important to legislators,” says Schlesinger.

The majority of insurance commissioners on the Professional Health Insurance Advisors Task Force voted in favor of the endorsement; West Virginia’s outgoing insurance commissioner and 2010 president of NAIC, Jane L. Cline was opposed, while North Carolina Commissioner Wayne Goodwin abstained.

“People that deal with and regulate insurance understand the value of an insurance agent. If they don’t remove agent commissions from the MLR [calculation] then that is going to really impact the ability of consumers to get high-quality insurance agents to help them make these decisions,” adds Schlesinger.

In his opinion, once the federal government recognizes that it is hard to place consumers in high-risk pools and therefore resorts to paying agents for their expertise, “it should make them realize the challenge they are going to have getting people into the exchanges and the challenges people have with insurance in general,” says Schlesinger.

Trautwein calls on Congress to heed the NAIC commission’s recommendation and pass H.R. 1206. “We also urge the Department of Health and Human Services to take immediate regulatory action by delaying enforcement of the MLR regulation,” says Trautwein.

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