NAIFA-Florida today provided its plan to implement Federal health care reform to key staff leaders of the Florida House, Senate, Cabinet and Governors office. NAIFA-Florida opposes much of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and believes that the fall national elections could bring significant reform or even repeal of the act. However, if PPACA must be implemented, the Florida Legislature must act to protect consumers from the unscrupulous actions of unlicensed sales persons, and to curb other problems created by PPACA.
NAIFA-Florida presented the following plan:
- Establish a Florida Based Exchange. NAIFA-Florida opposes replacing the expertise and knowledge of insurance agents with a website. But if PPACA stands, there will be an exchange, either based in Tallahassee, or Washington D.C. We strongly advocate that Florida take control of this exchange to assure consumers are protected. All users of the Exchange must be given the opportunity to select an insurance agent prior to selecting coverage. The Federal Exchange run by bureaucrats out of Washington won’t do this…and won’t hear our voice.
- Regulate Navigators. PPACA authorizes unlicensed persons to assist insurance consumers by going onto the Exchange and helping them purchase insurance. The purchase of health insurance is a complex choice, and health insurance agents are educated, licensed, regulated, and take continuing education to assure consumers make the best choice for themselves, their families and their employee’s. Allowing uneducated and unregulated individuals, known under PPACA as “Navigators” to sell insurance should never have been authorized in Federal law. Florida must require education, licensure, and disciplinary measures to assure only those that understand the complexities of health insurance qualify as navigators. In addition, the law must be clear that any license health insurance agent may continue to represent insureds on any such “Exchange.” Laws authorizing Navigators to sell, must limit it to uninsured individuals only, and such laws must be drafted to automatically expire in the event “navigators” are no longer required under Federal law.
- Streamline NAIFA’s “fees in lieu of commissions” statute. In 2004, NAIFA-Florida drafted and advocated legislation (S. 626.593) allowing health insurance agents to charge group health customers a fee and forego their commissions. We could have never foreseen PPACA, which has forced commissions to lows no one thought possible, thanks to the Minimum Loss Ratios. This law needs to be streamlined, by expanding it to individual insurance, allowing an agent to keep both the commission and charge a fee, and to negotiate the fee’s individually with commercial customers.
- Allow Insurers to Collect Agent Fees. Insurers should be authorized, under contract with their agents, to collect agent fees which do not count as commission, at their option and as a function of the private marketplace.
- Oppose Unregulated Insurers from Operating in Florida. Some believe allowing insurers from other states that are not regulated in Florida to sell unfettered to Florida consumers is a good idea. These companies may not be financially viable, will low ball rates to build market share, essentially taking qualified plans away from existing commercial insureds, and then substantially increase rates in later years causing many to flee back to regulated insurers operating here. This destabilization of the Florida market will cause massive upheaval, and many small businesses will have their care jump from carrier to carrier, and rate increases will not be viable.
- Maintain Small Group Size at 50. Florida should not expand its small group size from 50 to 100. The destabilization and uncertainty for employers that employ more than 50, but less than 100 employees, should not be heaped on top of the massive changes headed to our marketplace. We have the option of going to 100 later.
- Where Possible, Allow Non Exchange Coverage Flexibility. While the Federal Government has taken over what the “essential benefits” must be, many employers and others have coverage with slightly higher deductibles, and other options that make the plans cheaper. These employers may not qualify for tax credits or other subsidies, so ought to be allowed to operate outside the exchange to the extent any flexibility is left under PPACA.
It is impossible for the Florida Legislature to unwind the negative provisions of PPACA. A state law cannot overturn a Federal mandate. But where possible, NAIFA-Florida will be working on these and other components of state implementation to protect the free market for health insurance, and consumers, from unintended consequences.