GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing
Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.
Feds Take On Big IssuesJun. 28, 2017
The US Supreme Court ruled that it will allow the Trump administration to move forward with a limited version of its ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days. Across the street from the Supreme Court, the Senate released its version of the healthcare bill, which would leave 22 million folks uninsured.
TRAVEL BAN AFFECT ON EMPLOYEES
The court ruled that the travel ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." This limited version shouldn't affect employees or students coming to the U.S. for work or to study since they would have demonstrated a sufficient relationship with others in the country.
The Senate unveiled its Better Care Reconciliation Act. The bill would repeal ACA taxes on corporations and the wealthy that pay for insurance subsidies, which would add up to about $563 billion in tax cuts over 10 years. The Senate version would also allow states to request waivers to opt out of requiring essential health benefits (i.e. addiction treatment, mental health services, maternity care, etc). However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also determined 22 million people would lose health coverage under the bill in the next 10 years.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he will delay the healthcare vote until after the July 4 recess. Sen. McConnell wants to make changes to the bill and get a new CBO score before a scheduled vote. The limited travel ban will go into effect 72 hours after the Supreme Court's ruling on Monday. The court will hear arguments on the travel ban in October.
Flood Raging in the House
The House Financial Services Committee passed five flood bills as part of a legislative package intended to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is set to expire September 30, 2017. Committee lawmakers have worked on revamping the NFIP since January 2016. The NFIP offers flood policies to residents of flood-prone areas where insurance is required. However, the program is currently $24 billion in debt.
One of the approved bills (H.R. 2874) would strip federal flood insurance eligibility from certain properties that flood repeatedly, some expensive properties, and new properties built in designated flood zones. Lawmakers want to shift more flood insurance customers to the private market. However, there are fears that private flood insurers unlicensed by state regulators will accept and then drop customers after a major event without paying their claims. Flooding events are happening more frequently - both parts of Michigan and California experienced flooding over the last week.
Making Our Way Around the Country
The New York State Senate passed legislation that would establish a task force to study the ability to utilize telehealth services within the workers' compensation system. S.B. 833 would allow the task force to study the feasibility of implementation of telehealth for medical exams of injured workers while ensuring quality care and the ability to diagnose through telehealth and remain within the treatment guidelines. The task force would also look at the cost impact of telehealth on employers and the ability to prevent fraud. The bill now moves to the Assembly.
The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission provided an updated Medical Fee Schedule (MFS) project timeline as well as released its new medical fee schedule, ground rules and updated MFS Dispute Resolution Process. The preliminary approved MFS Dispute Resolution Process public comment period runs from June 19 - July 19, 2017. Virginia was one of seven states without a fee schedule. The medical fee schedule will become effective January 1, 2018.
The California Division of Workers' Compensation issued a reminder that lien claimants need to file a declaration by close of business on June 30 for any lien filed between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2016 for which a filing fee was paid. This is a requirement of S.B. 1160, which became effective January 1, 2017.
July 4th marks another anniversary for our nation. Be safe as you're celebrating at your local fair, parade or backyard BBQ as fireworks send over 7,000 folks to the emergency room in the weeks before and after the July 4 holiday. July 4th also marks the death anniversary of both Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson - both died on the same day on the 50th anniversary of our nation. Check out some of my favorite Adams and Jefferson quotes.