The American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS) held a conference this month with insurers in the property and casualty sector. The VP of federal affairs for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) spoke to the group about topics current and pending, in Congress, that may affect the industry.
Lobbyists see no immediate issues that will have a direct effect on PCI members or the industry. However, there are a few things to keep a watch on concerning health care, the antitrust act and the National Flood Insurance Program. These subjects may lead to other issues that would affect the P/C sector.
There has been a new pitch to repeal antitrust exemptions for health insurers. The U.S. antitrust laws ban anti-competitive behaviors and make certain practices illegal that would discourage competition in the marketplace. Specifically, the McCarren-Ferguson Act, which excludes the insurance business from federal regulation.
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If this was repealed, insurers dealing with healthcare coverage would be subject to regulations imposed by the federal government. This may not have much effect on health carriers, but the P/C industry relies on the narrow threshold of exemptions that they do have.
Liability insurance for medical and professional persons is not a health insurance product and shouldn’t be treated as such. According to the PCI, as of now, this area is not a part of the proposed reform. The federal health policy will be closely monitored because this matter will bring several major changes to our industry; mainly, in the area of cost-shifting.
Other topics that will be watched deal with the National Flood Insurance Program and its long term extension, and the recent creation of a federal oversight council for financial stability. There will be a representative from the insurance industry chosen to be a part of the council.