ASRW Town Hall Reveals Frustration With New Health Care Law
By Robert L. Redding Jr.
Expert panel discusses pros and cons of new law.
Independent repairers had an opportunity to not only hear from health care experts during the Automotive Service & Repair Week last month, they also spoke publicly about small business concerns regarding health care. The Town Hall meeting provided automotive repairers an open forum to share health care issues impacting their businesses and employees. Many attendees were found to share similar concerns.
The discussion, titled “How Will Healthcare Reform Affect My Business?,” examined the impact of health care reform in the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and provided an outlook for changes in health care laws in the future.
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) assembled an expert panel that contributed a comprehensive background of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010. Panelists included:
- Dr. Donna Malvey, associate professor in the Dept. of Health Management and Informatics, University of Central Florida
- Terri L. Seefeldt, RHU, Rogers Benefit Group
- Jim Houser, Hawthorne Auto Clinic, Portland, Oregon
- Don Seyfer, Seyfer Automotive, Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Important to the discussion was Seyfer’s recent involvement in reviewing his business’ current health program with the new law. Seyfer is celebrating 50 years of owning Seyfer Automotive this year.
Houser has served on the Oregon Health Authority’s Insurance Exchange Advisory Group and been active with the Main Street Alliance of Oregon, a new network of small businesses focusing on addressing small business concerns in health care reform. Houser was recognized by President Barack Obama during the 2011 State of the Union Address, for his business’ commitment to providing health insurance for his employees at Hawthorne Auto Clinic. Houser opened Hawthorne Auto Clinic 28 years ago.
Malvey outlined the key issues for small businesses in the Affordable Care Act including:
- Legal challenges
- The economy
- Uncertainties regarding accountable care organizations
- Waning support from key stakeholder groups
Malvey also discussed at length the impact of retail medicine on employers. This is of particular interest to ASA members as to what the new retail model will be for small business employers.
Terry Seefeldt is a past Florida State Chair for the Association of Health Insurance Advisors. She is active in speaking to civic and business organizations regarding health care reform. Seefeldt provided an in-depth look at:
- Health insurance premiums
- Insurance product reforms
- New taxes and fees
- New regulations and reporting requirements
The panel presentations offered a segue to a lively debate on the pros and cons of health care reform. Attendee speakers offered personal accounts of employee issues with insurance programs, the increase in premiums, etc.
It is important to note that the regulatory process for the affordable care act is in full swing. The administration recently announced that the long-term care insurance program known as CLASS, passed as part of last year’s health care reform law, will not be implemented at this time. The administration indicated that the proposed new program is actuarially unsound.
The Affordable Care Act was a major issue during the 2010 federal elections. Many new members of the republican freshman class have sought a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the 112th Congress. This has not occurred to date and will be a difficult journey through the U.S. Senate. Many predict that the Affordable Care Act will again be an issue in the 2012 election cycle.
To view Town Hall presentations and materials related to the Affordable Care Act; please go to ASA’s legislative website www.TakingTheHill.com.
Taking the Hill
FTC Seeks Public Comment on Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on consumer product warranty rules under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The agency is seeking comment on the FTC’s interpretations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the FTC’s guides for the advertising of warranties and guarantees, and three rules governing disclosure requirements for written warranties on consumer products, requirements for sellers and warrantors to make written warranty terms available to consumers before a sale, and procedural standards for warrantors who want consumers to use a dispute resolution process before filing suit for breach of warranty.
The commission seeks public comment on the overall costs, benefits, and necessity of the Interpretations, Guides, and Rules, as well as whether the FTC should revise its interpretations of the act’ s prohibition on tying, or make amendments to address service contracts or making warranty documents available online.
The Magnuson-Moss Act became law in 1975. The interpretations, rules, and guides were last reviewed in 1996 and 1997.
Comments must be received by Oct. 24, 2011. All comments received will be posted on the FTC website.
ASA urges its members to log on to www.TakingTheHill.com to send their comments to the FTC regarding its interpretations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. - Philip Thompson
U.S. House Committee Holds Hearing on Insurance Oversight
The House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity recently held a hearing on Insurance Oversight: Policy Implications for U.S. Consumers, Businesses and Jobs. The first panel of the hearing included testimony by a variety of witnesses. John Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration; Susan Voss, commissioner of the Iowa Insurance Division and president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC); and Greg Wren, a Republican member of the Alabama House of Representatives and treasurer of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators.
All of the witnesses touched on the new Federal Insurance Office (FIO) created under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Center for Economic Justice, spoke on behalf of consumers, saying consumers weren’t receiving enough protection and consideration:
“In the vast majority of states, there are no consumer organizations focusing on insurance issues other than health insurance. So, for the vast majority of regulatory issues, there are no consumer perspectives to balance out the many industry voices pushing for the industry policies. Even when there is a consumer voice, it is typically outnumbered and outspent by massive amounts.”
Andrew Furgatch, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Magna Carta Companies Inc., and on behalf of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, made comments regarding the McCarran-Ferguson Act:
“Since the mid-1800s, U.S. property casualty insurers have been regulated by each of the states in which they conduct business. By adopting the McCarran-Ferguson Act in 1945, Congress endorsed state oversight of insurance. State regulation seeks to ensure that insurers will be solvent to pay their policyholders’ claims and protects consumer rights with respect to privacy and insurance coverage. During the recent financial crisis involving troubled banks and securities firms, fiscally prudent regulatory oversight by states was found to be effective in safeguarding insurance purchasers and ensuring the financial strength of U.S. insurance markets and businesses.” - Kaitlyn Dwyer
To read about these and other legislative items
in greater detail, please visit www.TakingTheHill.com.
Bob Redding is the Automotive Service Association's Washington, D.C., representative. He is a member of several federal and state advisory committees involved in the automotive industry.
For more information about the legislative activities of ASA, visit www.TakingTheHill.com.