News & Press: NAIFA-Wisconsin E-Newsletter

The Fate of Many Bills Will be Decided in the Final Days of the Legislative Session

Friday, March 2, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bill McClenahan
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The Legislature will soon end its 2017-2018 session and head home for the start of the election campaign season. Assembly leaders have said that February 22 was the last day on the floor for the house, but the state Senate will be meeting again on March 20. The Senate seems likely to reject the sales tax holiday portion of a $100-per-child tax rebate plan passed by the Assembly, so it is possible that the Assembly will also return.  

The Assembly passed a large number of bills in its final session days in February, with more than 200 bills pending in the state Senate. Bills that the Senate does not concur in will die for this session. Brief summaries of some of the recent bills of interest are below. 

Reinsurance for Affordable Care Act policies. The Legislature has passed a version of Governor Scott Walker’s proposal for reinsurance of Affordable Care Act policies, which is intended to help control health insurance premiums and to attract additional insurers to the marketplace. NAIFA-Wisconsin supported the proposal, which has now been signed into law, but which still needs federal approval.  The state would cover a portion of higher-cost ACA health insurance claims between $50,000 and $250,000, subsidizing the marketplace for high-risk consumers. The plan is expected to cost about $200 million, with $50 million from the state and the rest in federal funds. 

Changes in requirements for non-renewal notices. The Assembly passed a bipartisan bill that would repeal the requirement to send a 60-day non-renewal notice if a policy is being issued on the same terms in an affiliated company. NAIFA-Wisconsin supported the bill, which is intended to prevent confusion for customers who will continue coverage, but under an affiliate. The bill also expands current requirements to be truthful in certificates of insurance by making it illegal for anyone to ask or require an agent to misrepresent insurance coverage on a certificate of insurance.

Long-term care investment fund. NAIFA testified against a proposal to create an Edvest-like savings program for long-term care insurance, arguing it was likely to be ineffective, like a program that failed in Nebraska. NAIFA argued that more state education about long term care expenses and planning would likely be more effective. The bill did not get a committee vote. 

Cause of death on death certificates. A bipartisan bill would have allowed family members to maintain privacy by requesting a death certificate that did not have a cause of death. NAIFA was concerned that certificates with the cause of death would also be needed for life insurance claims, but the bill did not get a hearing or vote. 

Self-insured health care groups. Assembly Republicans passed a bill, introduced late in the session, to allow industry-based association and chambers of commerce to create self-funded groups for health care coverage. The goal is to allow smaller businesses to join together to get economies of scale to self-insure. Such plans would also avoid some insurance mandates, but federal regulations on that issue have not yet been promulgated. Democrats argued the plans could destabilize health insurance markets. 

HSA accounts for Medicaid recipients. As part of a welfare reform package, Governor Walker proposed asking the federal government for a waiver to allow the state to create Health Savings Accounts for Medicaid recipients. The bill has passed both houses, but the details of how the program would work – including the source of the contributions to the accounts – will not be available until the request is submitted to the feds. 

Adoption of federal tax changes. The state will federalize the state tax code to adopt many, but not all, of the tax changes enacted by Congress. More information on those changes will be shared in future newsletters after Senate action on the Assembly’s bill.  

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors-Wisconsin

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