WASHINGTON, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) are bringing Main Street to Capitol Hill as they convene March 21-22 in Washington, D.C. for their 2012 PIA Federal Legislative Summit.
"We all know that 2012 is a critical election year, both for the future of our country and the interests of professional insurance agents," said PIA National President Thomas C. Adderhold. "Our summit this year occurs as many issues with the potential to affect agents' bottom lines remain in focus on Capitol Hill. That's why this is no time for agents to sit on the sidelines."
PIA members participating in the summit remain unalterably opposed to federal encroachment on insurance, and instead support modernization of the nation's state-based system of insurance regulation, which has served consumers well. In addition, the insurance agents will urge lawmakers to pass a bill to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and extend it for five years.
"It is crucial that Congress finally pass an extension bill," said Richard A. Clements, secretary/assistant treasurer of PIA National and PIA National's representative to the Flood Insurance Producers National Committee (FIPNC). "The current authorization runs until May 31, 2012, which should be plenty of time for Congress to finish work to extend the NFIP for a full five years and enact key reforms to put the program on a firm financial footing."
"The House already passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 1309) on an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 406-22," Clements said. "The Senate Banking Committee has approved it. All that remains is for the full Senate to act. Our message to lawmakers is simple: Just get it done!"
Health, Crop, FIO
Main Street insurance agents who sell health insurance are reeling from a decision by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to include agent compensation in the calculation of medical loss ratios (MLR). As a result, the compensation of many licensed health insurance agents and brokers has been cut by as much as 50 percent. PIA members will urge that Congress enact legislation to clarify that producer compensation will not be considered as part of MLR calculations, taking that determination out of the hands of HHS.
"Our members who sell health insurance want to continue doing so – but the Department of Health and Human Services doesn't seem to value the participation of producers," said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Leonard C. Brevik. "Congress already mandated in the 2010 law that licensed agents were to be full participants under the new healthcare law, but HHS has acted against clear congressional intent. Congress needs to reassert its authority over HHS."
PIA members will also advocate for a 2012 Farm Bill that's fair and against caps on agent compensation in crop insurance under the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA). In addition to legislative meetings on Capitol Hill, PIA members will meet with Bill Murphy, the Administrator of the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) on March 23 to discuss the federal crop insurance program in greater detail.
In addition, the insurance agents will advise lawmakers they oppose any recommendation that may be forthcoming from the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) to grant the federal government or the FIO any measure of regulatory authority over the business of insurance.
The 2012 PIA Federal Legislative Summit will begin on March 21 with a legislative briefing for participants, held at the Marriott Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, PIA's headquarters hotel. FLS attendees will have the opportunity to become knowledgeable on a host of issues important to agents during this critical legislative and election year.
The following morning, March 22, participants will begin their day with a breakfast program featuring remarks by PIA leaders and Members of Congress. Following breakfast, PIA members will spend a full day of scheduled meetings with lawmakers in their Capitol Hill offices. At day's end, a reception will be held, followed by the annual fundraising and awards dinner of the PIA Political Action Committee (PIAPAC).
"Issues that are very important to insurance agents, the insurance industry and insurance customers are being debated every day in Washington, D.C.," said PIA National President-elect Andrew C. Harris. "These issues run the gamut, but what they have in common is the potential – depending on how they are decided – to help or hurt professional insurance agents and our customers."
"For our voices to be heard above the clamor of those that would gain from our loss, we need to be present in the decision making process and highly visible in Washington," Harris said. "Not being involved is simply not an option."
Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM. PIA's web address is www.pianet.com.
This press release online at: http://www.pianet.com/NewsCenter/NewsAboutPIA/03-20-12.htm
SOURCE National Association of Professional Insurance Agents