It’s amazing how many things can change in a month. We are living in a different world than when I wrote the last newsletter just 30 days ago. Emergency declarations, tele-working, self-quarantine and social distancing comprise our new normal. As the COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to the health and safety of people all over the world and specifically the operation of the nation’s insurance sector, we all are focused on what we can do to help.
It goes without saying that COVID-19 has become NAIC’s new top priority for now. So, I want to take a moment to go over some of the things we’ve done, as well as projects that are in the works.
Virtual Special Session
I hope you were able to attend the virtual Special Session on COVID-19 on March 20th. The public session was informative and the regulator-only session enabled us to have a robust discussion about the stability of the insurance sector, possible issues that may need our attention in the near-term, and what we’re doing at the state level. I encourage you to watch the open session available on the Coronavirus Resource Center and the regulator-to-regulator session available to watch through StateNet.
I imagine this will be just one of many virtual conversations that will take place over the next few months as we look for innovative ways to meet and continue our work while maintaining social distancing.
State Bulletins Around the Coronavirus
The NAIC is working on developing two central repositories for state bulletins, orders and other directives. The regulator only access repository is currently available at https://collab.naic.org. Once you log in, you can access the repository by clicking on the ‘COVID 19’ button that pops up on the bottom right of the Terms and Conditions page.
Additionally, the NAIC Coronavirus Resource Center is currently being re-tooled to provide a list of state actions by topic and by state. This updated public version will be available on the NAIC home page soon.
Coronavirus CARES Act
The U.S. Congress passed and President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Of note, the legislation covers the following regarding health insurance:
- For COVID-19 testing it requires group health plans and insurers to pay either: a) the negotiated price if they have an agreement with the provider, or b) the “listed price” (must be posted) for providers with which they do not have an agreement (Sec. 3202)
- Requires group health plans and insurers to cover the COVID-19 vaccine once available (Sec. 3203)
- Provides telehealth resources and network grants (Sec. 3212)
- Provides rural health grants (Sec. 3213)
- Requires the Secretary of HHS to develop standards for HIPAA privacy (Sec. 3224)
- Allows first-dollar coverage of telehealth for high-deductible plans eligible for an HSA (Sec. 3701)
- Makes statutory changes to the Medicare program to allow more flexibility for telehealth (Sec. 3702)
- Funds Community Health Centers (Sec. 3821) – this is important because funding of the centers was going to be the train used to pass Surprise bill and Rx legislation by end of May
NAIC’s Statement on Business Interruption Insurance
The NAIC released a statement last week cautioning against and opposing federal proposals that would retroactively require insurance companies to pay for unfunded coronavirus business interruption claims. It also expressed the NAIC’s commitment to working with Congress to find ways to mitigate the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. To read the full statement, click here.
Reprioritizing NAIC Workstreams
You probably noticed the NAIC Officers directed the NAIC to suspend conference calls for the groups scheduled to meet at our virtual Spring National Meeting. We did not make this decision lightly, but given what was happening at the state level in so many of our states, it was pretty obvious we needed to make our first priority the health and safety of our staffs and the citizens in our respective jurisdictions. Along these lines, our focus for the next four to six weeks will be on addressing COVID-19-related issues, as well as other essential activities that need to occur. We plan to share more information with you in the next week or so, so please stay tuned.