Member Update – November 2020

Can it really be 4th quarter?? It seems unreal that we have lived in this Covid-19 environment for the past nine months with no clear end in sight. In the meantime, we continue to work with our clients, negotiate 2021 renewals, and prepare for the future impact of the pandemic and the outcome of our national election. Stay with us to remain informed and proactive on behalf of the clients you serve, and invite your colleagues to join MassAHU. We need to stay vigilant on behalf of our clients and cannot do so without your support.

Zoom Tuesday is Next Tuesday, November 10th
Registration is open for our upcoming Zoom Tuesday program through Event Brite now. The program will provide a deep dive into ICHRA plans – Individual Health Contribution Reimbursement Accounts – with Bill Stuart, MassAHU Vice President and Compliance leader at Benefit Strategies, and NFP Executive Jeff Rich. Join us for a discussion on ICHRA plans and how they can help your clients provide meaningful, affordable health insurance options to their employees.

Upcoming Industry Programs of Interest
Several other programs are coming up quickly this month. NAHU will be broadcasting a postelection program with Janet Trautwein this Thursday, November 5th. We’re wondering what results will be known by then, but we know her insights will be enlightening regardless. If you are not able to listen to the live broadcast on Thursday, be sure to sign into your account at www.nahu.org to access the recording after the event.

MAHP Annual Conference
We’d also like to extend an invitation to attend Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP) 2020 conference. What is usually a full-day program held in November each year, instead will be presented in 3 virtual programs, starting this Friday, November 6th, with EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders and House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Then on November 20th, Dr Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University of Public Health, is the guest speaker, and on December 4th, Avik Roy and John McDonough join Jim Braude to take a look forward to future healthcare policy. The MAHP Conference is always relevant to brokers and their employer clients, and this year is no exception. Visit the MAHP website where you can get more details and register to attend one or all of the programs.

AIM Executive Forum with Governor Charlie Baker
On November 13th, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) will hold their Executive Forum with Governor Charlie Baker. With the recent announcement of a $774 million economic recovery plan and the proposed 2021 budget, it should be an interesting discussion. The legislature will need to approve the final budget, but in the meantime, they are continuing to extend the FY ’19-20 budget on a monthly basis. You can register for the AIM Executive Forum through the AIM website.

Federal Legislative Update
Much hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court debates the severability of the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act, and what happens with the Presidency as well as control of the Senate in this week’s election. Although we may not know the outcome of the election immediately, as noted earlier, NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein will hold an election recap on Thursday, November 5th.

Once the 2021 elected leaders take office, MassAHU will be hosting a Zoom Tuesday program to highlight our state and federal legislative priorities with our legislative counsel Jack Bartley, Sun Life Government Relations Executive, James Slotnick and Marcy Buckner, NAHU SVP of Government Relations. More information will be forthcoming in our next update.

Compliance Update
We’re inching closer to the initial eligibility date for claiming benefits under the MA PFMLA on January 1, 2021. Attorney Rick Szczebak outlines the process for filing claims under MA PFMLA in his October update for MassAHU. He also offers a concise update on the state’s regulations and a list of the approved carriers.

NEW Offering for MA PFML
Through a special arrangement with the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA), MassAHU members can begin offering a private and stand-alone PFML policy to groups of 25 or more employees. To learn more about this option, visit the MA PFML webpage, and sign-up for MAIA’s upcoming webinar: Learn to Sell PFML via MAIA’s Number One Insurance Agency – New Product Offering, on either 11/18 or 11/24!

License Renewals/Continuing Education Update
The state of Massachusetts DOI suspended insurance license renewals during the pandemic in accordance with Governor Baker’s orders last spring. When the suspension was lifted in late spring, the MA DOI issued draft rules that license renewals, including CE requirements, would need to be completed by October 31st. MassAHU and MAIA were instrumental in extending the time for renewing and submitting CE to December 31st out of concern that licensed insurance brokers would not have sufficient time to comply with the earlier deadline. The final regs can be found HERE. Note that if your license renewal date was affected by the pandemic, your next renewal date will still be 3 years from your original 2020 renewal date (i.e., your 2023 birthday).

If you need CE credits, consider taking the Single Payer Healthcare Certification Course through NAHU. NAHU also offers certification courses on several areas of employee benefits, which can lead to earning the professional designation Registered Employee Benefit Consultant (REBC). If you’d like more information on any of NAHU’s professional development programs visit www.nahu.org/professional-development.

Recap on our October Health Plan Virtual Roundtable
Our October Zoom Tuesday program was a success by all accounts, with nine health plan executives participating in our Virtual Roundtable Discussion. Contrary to the format we use for our popular CEO panel at Benefest, we asked each participant a unique question chosen randomly before the event. This allowed the audience to hear about a variety of current topics in a fast-moving and unscripted conversation. We truly appreciate the participation of all our MA health insurance partners.

Topics included emerging trends in primary care, telehealth and behavioral health, the Massachusetts merged market, middle market (50-99), prescription drug costs and carveout plans, Covid-19 impact on claims and trend, Massachusetts budget shortfall, ICHRA and alternate funding plans, transparency and innovation. Thank you to Marie Chalmers, Executive Vice President at Marsh & McLennan and past president of MassAHU, for her role as moderator, engaging everyone in the discussion while being mindful of time. Thank you also to everyone who participated on the panel and whose support of the role of brokers is ever important – Patrick Cahill (HPHC), Scott Meehan (BCBSMA), Eric LaPlaca (Tufts), Jennifer St. Thomas (Allways), Eric Swain (UHC), Scott Ledoux (HNE), Beth Helenius (Fallon), Spence Papke (Aetna), and Jennifer Motta (CIGNA). We look forward to hearing from our health plan partners in future Zoom Tuesday programs leading up to Benefest on May 4, 2021.

Save the Date for our Upcoming Zoom Tuesday Programs
Plan to join us for a look at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) with industry leaders on Tuesday, December 8th at 10 a.m.

How can we develop business relationships and grow our business in a remote environment? Join us for some fresh ideas and inspiration for the new year on January 5th at 10 a.m.

In closing…
In what is typically a sensory season filled with football games, outdoor hikes, roaring fires and cozy nights, we know that it is also anxiety-filled for many. We hope you take time to enjoy nature and to nurture your spirit at this stressful time. Whatever happens in the election, the Supreme Court deliberations and the course of the pandemic, we wish you strength and safekeeping to meet the challenges ahead.

Take care of yourself and check in on your neighbors. Hope to see you at one of our upcoming programs.

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Member Update – September 2020

Our whole way of life seems to be in Hybrid mode these days. Whether it’s work, our kids’
education, or even our emotional space, we can easily find ourselves feeling ‘out of sync.’ It’s more difficult to be engaged in our professional work with so many distractions around us. But it is very important to remain connected, to continually grow your knowledge and access to resources, and not become isolated. That’s why NAHU and MassAHU are here for you. Take a moment to check in at info@massahu.org and let us know what would help you at this time. We feel the same isolation you do, so let us know you’re out there!

Member Programs and Benefits
MassAHU hosted our first Zoom Tuesday on September 8th, with Benefit Pitch founder Dave Kerrigan and b.well Connected Health CEO Kristen Valdes. We received much positive feedback – Matt Shadrick and the speakers did a great job with our first Zoom member program, providing useful talking points and data on several Covid-related trends. As one member commented, it had a “sense of cohesiveness without feeling scripted.” If you would like more information about b.well or other emerging technology for your employer clients, MassAHU brokers can now sign up for free access to Benefit Pitch at www.benefitpitch.com by using the code MassAHU2020. Through this site you can search for all types of administration and technology vendors for your employer clients, including b.well. Check it out today!

Save the date for our next Zoom Tuesday program on October 6th from 10 am – 11:30 am.
Senior sales executives from regional and national health plans will discuss challenges and
opportunities, trends and innovations in health insurance for 2021. This program will be
moderated by MassAHU President Matt Shadrick and Past President Marie Chalmers. Your invitation with additional details on all the speakers and a registration link will be sent out soon.

Beacon Hill Update
The summer was a busy legislative season. On June 25th, the Senate passed their health
reform bill S.2796, which the House then took up to review. They released H.4888 out of
committee on July 19th. MassAHU joined a coalition of groups led by MAHP, to
provide comment and recommendations to the House on this swiftly moving legislation, which passed on July 28th. The coalition letter raises several concerns which MassAHU will continue to follow and advocate for during the coming months. We will focus on two important issues, surprise medical billing and telemedicine, and present our recommendations to key legislators as the two bodies hammer out the final legislation this fall.

MassAHU was instrumental in getting an amendment dropped from the House bill, which would have assessed the health plans $100 million to help offset hospital losses due to Covid-19. We considered that a significant win for Massachusetts consumers, as we know that assessments to the health plans ultimately lead to higher consumer premiums. However, in a meeting with MAHP last week, we learned that a health plan assessment may reappear as a floor amendment or as part of the budget later this fall, so our work is not over. We are putting an “Operation Shout” plan in place in case we need to deploy brokers and employers to help convince our legislators that it will lead to higher insurance premiums, so be ready to help if we ask for your help.

The Massachusetts primaries were held on September 1st. Beacon Hill Consulting Group
provided the following commentary and summary of election results for MassAHU:

As you are aware, Senator James Welch (D) who represents Chicopee, Springfield, and West Springfield; and Rep. David Nangle (D) who represents Chelmsford and Lowell, lost their seats to their primary challenger. It comes as no surprise that Rep. Nangle lost his seat due to his indictment in February on more than two dozen federal fraud charges. Senator Welch’s loss comes as a surprise to many, being defeated by Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez. We are deeply saddened by Sen. Welch’s election loss, as MassAHU has built a strong relationship with Senator Welch, who is Chair of the powerful Financial Services Committee. All 40 incumbent state Senators are seeking reelection this year. The only Senators with primary opponents in the race were Senator Patricia Jehlen (D), Nick Collins (D), Walter Timilty (D) and Michael Brady (D); who all won their races. That being said, there are currently 16 open seats in the House, as 15 current House legislators decided against running this year. Of the 16 open seats, seven districts will have only a Democratic nominee on the ballot this November, making them the presumptive winner.

A summary of some of the more significant results is provided. Winning candidates are labeled in red, with the defeated candidates directly below. Also notated in the summary are which seats will be opposed in the general election.

Merged Market Advisory Council Update
The Merged Market Advisory Council met on September 10th. Shelley Kaleita from Beacon Hill Consulting Group shared her excellent notes from the meeting, which we are reviewing in Legislative Committee and sharing with our members here. Although our next scheduled legislative committee meeting is not until October 22, we will want to delve into the most recent information presented to the MMAC to identify any trends that can be addressed through our recommendations while the MMAC continues to meet and hold discussions with stakeholders, including MassAHU’s two broker representatives who are on the council. If your clients are in the individual/small group market and you would like to get more involved in our legislative committee work, please step forward. You will not only contribute your knowledge to the group, but you will gain incredible knowledge as well!

Federal Legislative Update
It’s unlikely that we will see any major legislation related to health insurance passed before the national election, and very likely not during the lame duck session for that matter. That doesn’t mean the House and Senate are not busy crafting bills or that NAHU is not also working hard following legislative activity, lobbying influential committee members, and preparing for ‘either/or’ election results. As a reminder, NAHU is a bi-partisan association and our political action committee (www.hupac.org) contributes to candidates of both parties who support our position on healthcare and health insurance issues. Your voice in the national election is heard in two ways – by making sure you vote, and by supporting HUPAC!

Note: NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein will give a post-election live broadcast on Thursday,
November 5th at 1pm. Registration is limited to 1000 participants. If you cannot attend, the broadcast will be recorded and slide deck will be posted to members only on the NAHU website. MassAHU will also host a post-election Zoom Tuesday program on November 17th at 10 am. More details to follow…

Compliance Update
With health plan utilization down in early months of 2020 due to Covid-19, some of the health plans are required to issue MLR rebates this year. Employers whose employees contribute towards the cost of insurance must share these rebates with their employees, which can get tricky depending on whether contributions are taken on a pre-tax basis (through S125 plan). Rick Sczcebak’s compliance bulletin this month discusses the rules and pitfalls of distributing MLR rebates as part of an employer’s fiduciary responsibility to the health plan. If you have any sticky issues to sort out with your clients, you can reach out to Rick for individual consultation as well as for client meetings/webinars, etc.

20% Off Continuing Ed Program on Single-Payer Healthcare
MassAHU members can get a 20% discount on the NAHU’s “Single-Payer Healthcare
Certification” course
by enrolling before November 3rd using the code TOGETHER. According to Farren Baer, NAHU’s Senior VP for Professional Development, “It is critical for health insurance professionals to understand what a single-payer system would mean for their families, clients and country. The course provides in-depth instruction from NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein on the importance of overall functioning of healthcare delivery and financing in the US, the structure of single-payer systems in other countries, and detailed information on legislation that has been introduced in Congress or proposed by candidates.” Successful completion of the course materials and exam will garner 3 MA Continuing Education Credits. In taking a deeper dive into the subject, MassAHU will host a one-hour discussion of Single Payer healthcare. Enroll before Election Day to receive your 20% discount for the NAHU certification course, and then join us for a one-hour discussion in early 2021.

In closing…
We know you are busy getting ready for first quarter renewals, Medicare Annual Enrollment, and successful completion of your 2020 goals in spite of the curveball Covid-19 may have created. We hope we are helping you accomplish what you’ve set out to do this year by providing valuable information, resources, and ideas. Let us know if we’re hitting the mark, and what we can do to further help you in your professional efforts.

P.S. Make sure to mark October 6th on your calendar for our next Zoom Tuesday with the
health plans. We will hopefully ‘see’ you soon!

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