The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Financial Services, charged with overseeing to private health insurance matters, held an informational briefing yesterday (Chairs are Sen. Steve Buoniconti and Rep. Ron Mariano). Members of the administration, industry reps and advocates were invited to introduce themselves to members.
Today’s briefing was our first introduction to the new Insurance Commissioner, Nonnie Burnes. Commissioner Burnes, her 2nd day on the job, said she looks forward to giving a fuller report in coming weeks. She shared what she feels is the mission of the Division – to protect consumers while ensuring a viable business environment for insurers. She listed three big issues facing the Division — third is the new Commonwealth Choice and Young Adult Plans. She will confront decisions as Commissioner and as a Connector Board member.
Other members of the administration working on health care reform also spoke. Dolores Mitchell spoke about the Group Insurance Commission and her role on the Connector Board. Mitchell mentioned that GIC tries to be proactive with, and demanding of, insurers. She argued it’s not right to try to keep the sick out of the insurance system – the purpose of insurance is sharing risk. We agree! Jon Kingsdale highlighted health reform’s most impressive achievement – 100,000 newly insured. He noted the difficult decisions facing the board include the definition of Minimum Creditable Coverage (MCC) and Individual Mandate waivers.
HCFA’s own Melissa Shannon updated the committee on MCC and potential pitfalls. She highlighted two private insurance bills supported by HCFA. The first bill would cap out-of-pocket expenses facing HMO enrollees and require HMOs to exempt certain services from deductibles (click here). The second would increase oversight of health insurance premiums (click here). Both are relevant in light of the individual mandate and the MCC framework.