WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) will bring Main Street to Capitol Hill when they convene March 30-31 in Washington, D.C. for their 2011 PIA Federal Legislative Summit.
"This year's PIA summit occurs as professional insurance agents face new challenges. Fortunately, the environment on Capitol Hill has undergone a transformation which may benefit our issues," said PIA National President Fred Thomas.
Thomas said PIA members participating in the summit will tell their Members of Congress that America's professional insurance agents remain unalterably opposed to federal regulation of insurance, and are against a so-called optional federal charter for insurers and producers. "Our support for state regulation of insurance remains steadfast, along with our opposition to federal encroachment into our industry and our businesses," he said.
PIA members will also urge their Representatives and Senators to support legislation to exempt health insurance agent commissions from the medical loss ratio (MLR) formula that will be used by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to calculate allowable expenses under the 2010 healthcare reform law.
"PIA argued successfully last year for inclusion of a provision in the law that guarantees that licensed insurance professionals will be able to assist their customers in navigating the new health insurance exchanges," said PIA National Director of Federal Affairs Mike Becker. "Subsequently, HHS in an interim regulation failed to exclude producer compensation from MLR calculations. As a consequence, we believe HHS is acting contrary to the wishes of Congress. Legislation specifying that agent compensation is exempt from MLR will end any confusion."
The Main Street insurance agents will also advocate for Congressional action to reverse a mandate that the newly created Federal Insurance Office (FIO) conduct a study of insurance regulation and make recommendations to Congress.
"This creates an ideological conflict-of-interest," Thomas said. "Federal employees are being tasked with doing a study on, as the law states, 'the costs and benefits of potential federal regulation of insurance across various lines.' In other words, federal employees in the FIO are being charged with the responsibility of recommending to Congress whether the FIO itself should have an expanded mandate and a bigger budget. What do you think their 'findings' will be?"
During their Capitol Hill visits, PIA members will reiterate their support for common-sense reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that include a 5-year reauthorization and advocate for the creation of a national natural catastrophe plan that supports the availability, affordability and stability of property insurance in catastrophe prone areas, as well as the economic viability of local communities.
The 2011 PIA FLS begins on Wednesday, March 30 with an in-depth issue briefing and Q&A at The Westin Alexandria. A special "early bird" briefing will be held Wednesday morning with a comprehensive issues briefing to be held Wednesday evening.
Bob Woodward to Keynote
The following morning, participants will gather for a kickoff breakfast prior to a day of visits to the offices of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The keynote speaker at the kickoff event will be award-winning journalist Bob Woodward, whose Watergate reporting led to the only resignation of a President of the United States in history. At day's end, a reception for all summit participants will be followed by the annual fundraising and awards dinner of the PIA Political Action Committee (PIAPAC). The PIAPAC speaker will be Gary Walters. Mr. Walters worked at the White House for over 30 years, and was the Chief Usher there from 1986-2007. The Chief Usher is the top residence staff position at the White House.
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 May 1 to discuss the federal crop insurance program in greater detail.
"This year's summit occurs as many issues with the potential to affect agents' bottom lines remain in focus on Capitol Hill," said PIA National Government Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Blackwell. "Regulatory reform, healthcare reform, natural catastrophe policy, flood insurance and crop insurance are all issues in play. Our members will be addressing them with their elected representatives."
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/PressReleases/02-25-11.htm.
SOURCE National Association of Professional Insurance Agents