insurance

Haslam, other govs pitch quick health insurance fix

Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday urged Congress to “move quickly to stabilize” the nation’s individual health insurance market and then mount “a serious effort” to curb soaring health care costs as federal lawmakers seek ways to keep the Affordable Care Act from imploding, reports the Times Free Press.

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McPeak pushes continued fed subsidies to U.S. senators

Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak urged Congress on Wednesday to continue federal cost-sharing payments to insurers, arguing the subsidies are the key to strengthening insurance markets and potentially bringing down costs next year.

Further from Michael  Collins’ report:

Appearing before a Senate panel, McPeak insisted the payments should not be seen as an “insurer bailout.”

To the contrary, she said, cost-sharing funding “ensures that some of our most vulnerable consumers receive assistance for copays and deductibles that are required to be paid under federal law.”

McPeak’s testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee came during the first of four hearings focused on strengthening the individual health insurance market after the collapse of the GOP’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the panel, said he hopes lawmakers will reach a consensus by the end of next week and approve bipartisan legislation by the end of the month to stabilize the individual health insurance market and guarantee that affordable coverage is available for those who want it.

Note: Gov. Bill Haslam speaks to the panel today.

TN workers’ comp insurance rates continue decline

Workers’ compensation insurance rates will drop again next year for most Tennessee businesses as safer work sites and non-judicial settlements of workers’ comp claims continue to cut the costs of insurance industry, reports the Times Free Press.

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Haslam & Alexander health care commentary: A sinking nation with a house on fire?

Tennessee Republican Bill Haslam, one of five governors scheduled to testify Sept. 7 before the U.S. Senate committee trying to come up with a health care insurance plan, outlined his views on the issue in a visit to Chattanooga Thursday, reports the Times Free Press.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the committee, also had a Tennessee speech Thursday including remarks on the matter. The Times Free Press has a report on both.

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BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna seek big TN Obamacare insurance premium increases for 2018

News release from Department of Commerce and Insurance

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) releases the insurance rates requested by carriers offering coverage on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) ahead of Open Enrollment for 2018. The deadline for rate requests was July 1 and three carriers filed rates with the Department. TDCI is also making available a map of the state showing where carriers have filed forms and rates and providing examples of average premium prices for 35- and 55-year old individual purchasers.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Cigna, and Oscar Health have all notified the Department they intend to offer coverage on the FFM in 2018. The following rates have been requested:

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee:  Average 21.4 percent increase (range: 4.6% – 44.5%)

Cigna: Average 42.1 percent increase (range: 12.2% – 182.2%)

Oscar Health: Initial rate request

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Alexander, Corker refrain from embracing Senate plan for Obamacare repeal and replacement

Tennessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both stopped well short of embracing the Senate plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare – they label it a “discussion draft” – in official statements.

Alexander, who was involved early in drafting the plan, does list “benefits for Tennesseans” in the proposal, but says he’s going to continue reviewing the matter, see how cost estimates develop and watch for amendments. His statement is HERE.

Corker just says he will be reviewing the proposal, seeking input from a “wide range of stakeholders” and “make a final decision based on whether this legislation, on the whole, is better than what is in place today.” His statement is HERE.

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All TN counties will be covered by Obamacare next year, but only one provider in many areas

Filings with the state Department of Commerce and Insurance released Wednesday show Chattanooga, Knoxville and two-thirds of Tennessee’s 95 counties will have only one insurance provider offering individual health insurance plans under the health exchange markets next year, reports the Times Free Press.

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With Trump ‘shouting death spiral’ for Obamacare, TN insurance commissioner wonders who’s in charge

Tennessee’s commissioner of commerce and insurance and Sen. Lamar Alexander are both quoted in a New York Times article bearing the headline, “Trump, Shouting ‘Death Spiral,’ Has Nudged Affordable Care Act Downward.” An excerpt:

Frustrated state officials have ideas for stabilizing the individual insurance market, but they say they cannot figure out where to make their case because they have been bounced from one agency to another in the Trump administration.

“We have trouble discerning who has decision-making authority,” said Julie Mix McPeak, the Tennessee insurance commissioner and president-elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents state officials. “We reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services. They referred us to the Office of Management and Budget, which referred us to the Department of Justice. We reached out to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.”

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Haslam, Alexander defend Insurance Commissioner McPeak

Gov. Bill Haslam has come to the defense of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak, reports WTVF-TV, which earlier aired a report on her extensive travel on the job – 120 trips since Haslam appointed her to the position in 2011 with expenses paid by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

U.S.  Sen. Lamar Alexander also issued a statement supporting McPeak. Some of her travel has been to Washington, where she met with congressmen and testified before committees – including one chaired by Alexander.

From WTVF:

“Julie’s worked for me for six years. I am very convinced of her professional approach to this in terms of looking out for what’s the best interests of the state,” Haslam explained.

…The governor said someone in his office reviews all travel requests from commissioners. So someone there knew just how many trips McPeak was taking.

Said Alexander in a statement emailed by his staff:

“Julie McPeak has been very effective in working with Congress to solve a real emergency for nearly 200,000 vulnerable Tennesseans as she works to give them options next year and beyond. Unless Congress acts, these Tennesseans who have federal subsidies to purchase insurance in the individual market may have zero options for insurance next year. I’ve invited her to meet with me in Nashville, and at my invitation, she testified before the Senate health committee and again to brief senators.”

Note: Previous post HERE. The station reported McPeak was out of her office on trips for 117 days in 2015, 120 days in 2016.

TN insurance commissioner’s travel, work with industry association, questioned

Tennessee Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak, who is president-elect of of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, has made more than 120 trips for conferences and meetings around the nation and world since taking office in 2011, reports WTVF-TV — and some say she’s spending “way too much time away from her office.”

McPeak told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, “That (travel) absolutely is serving the taxpayers of Tennessee and our Tennessee consumers.” But, Bob Hunter of the Consumer Federation of America wasn’t so sure.

“I think what happens as a result of these trips is less consumer protection, not more,” he said.

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