OIA Continues Push for Legislation to Help Employers Make Better Health Insurance Decisions

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Two OIA members recently urged members of the Ohio House Insurance Committee to pass legislation that would require health insurers to release certain aggregate claims information to group plan policyholders.

OIA member Victoria McCoy of Associated Insurance Agencies, Inc. (featured in the picture to the left) in Westerville testified in conjunction with OIA’s Government Affairs Manager Carolyn Mangas. Barbara Gerken of First Insurance Group, who is also an OIA member, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Ohio Association of Health Underwriters (OAHU).

Sponsored by Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), S.B. 227 will provide a solution to a problem that OIA members have brought to our attention over the last several years.

By allowing risk advisors and employers access to claims data, Ohio employers can make better decisions regarding properly assessing health care options to potentially reduce their health care costs.

While this claims data is typically available to employers with 100-plus employees, it is not available to those that fall below this threshold. The lack of this data hinders the ability of risk advisers and employers to pursue additional funding arrangements that have become available in the last several years. While this legislation was originally drafted to apply to all employer groups, it now only applies to those with fifty or more enrolled employees in their group. The rationale for this change was that this range of employees is medically underwritten the same way as the 100+ employer group market.

Ultimately, S.B. 227 would empower risk advisors and employers with the ability to better design a health insurance program that balances the level of risk and reward.

Notably, both Louisiana and Texas have similar laws in place to require health insurers to release claims data.

Several others testified in support of S.B. 227 in addition to OIA and OAHU, including the National Association of Independent Business – Ohio. The only known opponents of the bill include the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, who have cited concerns that employers could identify employees with serious health conditions and discriminate against them.

Prior to receiving hearings in the House Insurance Committee, S.B. 227 passed the Ohio Senate unanimously. With time running short before the end of the legislative session, OIA is advocating for passage of this bill out of the House Insurance Committee. A committee vote is expected to be scheduled for next week. OIA will keep members apprised of developments on this initiative as they occur.

Also see: Ohio Independent Agents Urge Senators To Help Businesses With Health Insurance Options


EMC Insurance Companies® Enters into an Agreement with Safeco Insurance® for Transition of Personal Lines Business

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – EMC Insurance Companies (“EMC”) announced today they have entered into an agreement with Safeco Insurance (“Safeco”), a Liberty Mutual Company, to provide EMC-licensed agents an opportunity to transition their EMC personal lines policies to Safeco beginning in the first quarter of 2019.

This agreement is a result of Des Moines-based EMC making a strategic decision to dedicate more time and resources to its commercial, reinsurance and life businesses across 43 states, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the company’s current premiums. The agreement with Safeco will also allow EMC to provide a smooth transition for personal lines policyholders, and the independent agents in 23 states they currently utilize to sell and service personal lines policies.

“The personal lines marketplace is highly competitive and has evolved significantly since we first entered it back in the 1950s. This is a decision we made with careful, strategic consideration given our long history in the business,” said Bruce G. Kelley, President and CEO of EMC Insurance Companies. “We are focused on maximizing profit and growth potential and believe that can best be accomplished by further strengthening and expanding our commercial lines.”

As one of the country’s leading personal lines insurers, Safeco is no stranger to this type of arrangement. The company has developed similar agreements with other insurers in the past few years given Safeco’s book transfer expertise and high levels of satisfaction for personal lines among independent agents.

“We are pleased to have been selected by EMC for our industry-leading approach to book transfers, which combines excellent products and technology with an agent-first culture,” said Gary Fischer, Senior Vice President of IA Channel Growth and Engagement at Safeco Insurance. “We are committed to the success of the independent agent channel and are excited to work with EMC agents throughout this transfer to provide customers with a smooth transition.”

About EMC Insurance Companies

EMC Insurance Companies is among the top 50 insurance organizations in the country based on net written premium, with more than 2,500 employees. Employers Mutual Casualty Company (EMCC) was organized in 1911 to write workers’ compensation protection in Iowa. Today, operating under the trade name EMC Insurance Companies, the company provides property and casualty insurance products and services throughout the United States and writes reinsurance contracts worldwide. EMCC is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit www.emcins.com.

About EMC Insurance Group Inc. 

EMC Insurance Group Inc. (EMCI) is a publicly held insurance holding company, which was formed in 1974 and became publicly held in 1982. Its common stock trades on the Global Select Market tier of the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol EMCI. EMCI’s parent company is EMCC. Additional information regarding EMCI may be found at investors.emcins.com.

About Safeco Insurance 

Established in 1923 and based in Seattle, Washington, Safeco Insurance sells personal automobile, homeowners and specialty products throughout the United States through a network of more than 10,000 independent insurance agencies. Safeco is owned by Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance, which is a leading global insurer with operations in 30 countries around the world and is the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2017 direct written premium data, as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The company also ranks 68th on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2017 revenue.  As of December 31, 2017, it had $39.4 billion in annual consolidated revenue. For more information about Safeco Insurance, go to www.Safeco.com.

 Source: EMC Insurance Group Inc.


OIA Welcomes Ashley Fitzsimmons to Customer Experience Role

GAHANNA, OH - Ohio Insurance Agents Association is excited to announce that Ashley Fitzsimmons has joined the association as their Customer Experience Manager.

Growing OIA’s vision to be a “change agent for agent change,” Fitzsimmons has a goal to lead the association’s initiatives to build and develop networks among agents, specifically the OIA’s new Peer Exchange Groups.

“Ashley is a connector. She has an energy and aura about her that will bring agencies together in our peer exchange groups to help them grow and improve their performance,” says OIA CEO Jeff Smith, JD, CIC, CAE.

“It truly takes a special breed to be an independent agent. Independent Agents are superheroes. They protect. They save. Look no further than the many natural disasters we are experiencing across this country and you see how independent agents help put people’s lives back together” Fitzsimmons says.  

”Having been an independent agent for nine years, I have a deep understanding for the speed bumps and roadblocks they can typically run into. I’d like to think there is no such thing as a problem, only an opportunity. And I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with independent agents in Ohio and help them strengthen their superhero powers and tear down those roadblocks.”

Fitzsimmons shares OIA’s passion and vision for independent agents and the IA system. Her experience working as a Producer with Fitzsimmons Insurance, a small independent insurance agency in Forest City, Pennsylvania, will equip her with the background and knowledge to make a big impact on the broader IA system. In her role with the agency, she implemented many technology features to modernize the customer experience and create relationships with other Next Generation agency leaders.

“One of the biggest things I’m hoping to accomplish with OIA is attracting new talent into the industry. Insurance is affectionately referred to as pale, male and stale. That changes now” Fitzsimmons says. “With the help of the OIA team, I know we can change this stereotype and show younger generations why insurance is the place to be and how you can make a difference in people’s lives in this profession. I’m looking forward to integrating into an incredible team that is changing this amazing industry for the better one day at a time.”

Fitzsimmons will join the OIA team at the beginning of 2019.


About Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,300 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. OIA helps agents grow their agencies and improve their performance by providing agency valuation, succession planning, generational health, operational benchmarking reports, peer exchange groups, other business solutions and industry thought leadership.


Ohio Midterm Election Results

Yesterday’s election generated great interest among voters, with voter turnout at 54.3%, the highest for a gubernatorial election year since 1994. 


Statewide Offices

The public polls were once again wrong leading into yesterday’s election. Many anticipated that the Democrats could pick up some statewide offices, including that of governor. Instead, Republicans swept all the statewide executive offices.


Governor
Mike DeWine (R) defeated Richard Cordray (D) 50.66% - 46.45%       


Attorney General
Dave Yost (R) defeated Steve Dettelbach (D) 52.42% - 47.58%            


Auditor of State
Keith Faber (R) defeated Zach Space (D) 49.93% - 46.06%                  


Secretary of State
Frank LaRose (R) defeated Kathleen Clyde (D) 50.92% - 46.73%


Treasurer of State*
Robert Sprague (R) defeated Rob Richardson (D) 53.53% - 46.47%    

What this means for OIA: The next leaders of the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be picked by the DeWine/Husted team. This team’s business-friendly approach should result in sound picks for both state agencies.


Also of note is that DeWine, Faber and LaRose will play key roles following the 2020 census when Ohio draws new maps for Congressional and Statehouse districts that will last for a decade. While Ohio recently passed redistricting reform, the governor, secretary of state and auditor will still sit on the redistricting commission that draws the Statehouse districts and also may engage in the Congressional mapping if needed.


Ohio Supreme Court

Judge Melody Stewart defeated Justice Mary DeGenaro 53-47% and Judge Michael Donnelly beat Judge Craig Baldwin 61-39%. Unfortunately, DeGenaro and Baldwin failed to benefit from the momentum the Republicans had, as voter drop off in these races was high, with more than 900,000 Ohioans skipping these races. The makeup of the court beginning in January will be 5-2, which will quite possibly result in more split decisions and could impact which cases the Court chooses to accept and which cases it rejects. Furthermore, with two seats lost this election, the 2020 election takes on increased importance as two seats will be up for election on the Court, and should Justices French and Kennedy fail to retain their seats, the philosophical makeup of the Court could be dramatically altered to be more activist in nature.   


Ohio House of Representatives

All 99 seats for the Ohio House were on the ballot.  At this point, it looks like the Democrats likely picked up four seats. This would reduce the Republican majority in the House to 62-37. Of significance here is that the House Republicans supermajority (which carries with it veto override authority) remains intact.


Ohio Senate

The Senate Republicans likely picked up another seat, further strengthening their veto proof supermajority. Heading into next year, the Republicans will control 25 of the states 33 senate districts.


OIA PAC Results

This year, OIA PAC contributed just under $57,000 to candidates, with a significant amount of this going to statewide candidates (just under $30,000). Overall, OIA PAC supported 37 candidates this year. Of these candidates, 30 won their races and seven lost. 


With the election now over, legislators will be getting back to work in what is anticipated to be an extremely busy lame duck session.  Look for more information to come on legislative activity that is likely to take place in the coming weeks as the year winds down.


Questions?

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!


Medical marijuana and its impact on Ohio workers' comp

With the upcoming implementation of medical marijuana in Ohio, you and your commercial clients may be wondering what impact, if any, this change will have on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and its programs? BWC recently put together a fact sheet with information to help you understand the impact that this change will have on Ohio workers’ comp.

What does Ohio's medical marijuana law say?

In 2016, the Ohio General Assembly set up the framework to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, effective Sept. 8, 2018.

It was approved for certain medical conditions, including pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries.

At this time, the only legal forms of medical marijuana will be edibles, oils, patches, plant material and tinctures. Vaporization is permitted. It cannot be smoked or combusted. Home growth is prohibited.

The Ohio Department of Commerce is tasked with regulating the licensure of medical marijuana cultivators and processors, as well as the laboratories that test medical marijuana. The state of Ohio Board of Pharmacy will license retail dispensaries and register patients and their caregivers.

Additionally, the State Medical Board of Ohio will regulate physicians’ requirements and procedures for applying for and maintaining certificates to recommend medical marijuana and maintain the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be recommended.

What is the impact on the new law on the Ohio BWC?

The impact of the new law on BWC and its programs is limited.

It does not adversely affect the Drug-free Safety Program, will not require BWC to pay for patient access to marijuana, and expressly states that an employee whose injury was the result of being intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana is not eligible for workers’ compensation.

Specifically:

  1. Nothing in the law requires an employer to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana.
     

  2. The law does NOT prohibit an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, or taking an adverse employment action because of a person’s use of medical marijuana.
     

  3. The law specifies that marijuana is covered under “rebuttable presumption.” In general, this means that an employee whose injury was the result of being intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana is not eligible for workers’ compensation. This is the case regardless of whether the marijuana use is recommended by a physician.
     

  4. While the law does not specifically address reimbursement for medical marijuana recommended for injured workers, Ohio law already has rules and statutes in place that limit what medications are reimbursable by BWC.

    • Administrative code provides that drugs covered by BWC are limited to those that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Marijuana has not been approved by the FDA and remains a Schedule I illegal drug under federal law.
       

    • BWC-funded prescriptions must be dispensed by a registered pharmacist from an enrolled provider. Medical marijuana will be dispensed from retail marijuana dispensaries, not from enrolled pharmacies.
       

    • BWC only reimburses drugs that are on its pharmaceutical formulary, which is a complete list of medications approved for reimbursement by BWC. Drugs not on the list are not eligible for reimbursement, and under BWC’s current rules, it cannot be included in the formulary, nor is it otherwise eligible for reimbursement.

What can employers do?

If you have not done so already, the best way employers can protect their workers and themselves is to establish a drug-free workplace, or, if they already have one, to review and update it if necessary.

This is important because certain sections of the new law reference the use of medical marijuana in violation of an employer’s drug-free workplace policy, zero-tolerance policy or other formal program or policy regulating the use of medical marijuana.

For what this means to your specific workplace, consult your human resources or legal department.
 

View BWC fact sheet

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