U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., have introduced S.650, the Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act. This legislation will ensure that health insurance agents and brokers can continue to provide essential counseling and advocacy services to consumers looking for the right health insurance coverage. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, are also original cosponsors of the legislation.
This legislation addresses a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the medical loss ratio (MLR) that has had dramatic, unintended consequences for nearly a half million licensed independent agents and brokers, and their employees. Due to the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) interpretation of the MLR provisions in the health reform law, health insurance carriers are required to treat agent and broker commissions as part of their administrative costs. This threatens the ability of independent agents and brokers to stay in business and serve the public. The Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act excludes from the MLR compensation earned by independent agents and brokers that serve the individual and small group markets.
"This bipartisan legislation will ensure that our independent insurance agents and brokers can continue providing essential services to consumers who depend on them to assist with coverage or claims problems. Due to HHS' interpretation of the health care law many agents and brokers - many of whom are one- or two-person small businesses - have had to reduce client hours or close up shop altogether because of these unintended consequences. This legislation will strengthen the Affordable Care Act, keep these small firms in businesses and protect this important service for consumers," Sen. Landrieu said.
"I'm proud to continue to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to push for this commonsense legislation that will preserve jobs and allow American consumers to get the help they need to navigate an increasingly complicated health care system," Sen. Isakson said. "This legislation will ensure that shortsighted regulations do not stand in the way of health insurance agents and brokers who want to continue assisting consumers so that they can find the best health coverage to meet their needs."
This legislation is supported by the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) and the National Association of Insurance, Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB).