Insurance Making a Summer Splash in Hot Washington, D.C. — Senate Votes to Start Healthcare Debate and Trump Signs Covered Agreement with EU

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Amidst the sizzling news of investigations and conversations about North Korea and terrorism, insurance is making its own headlines in the nation’s capital this summer. Congress is debating repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Trump Administration has signed off on the Covered Agreement with the European Union.

Most of the insurance news out of Washington, D.C. is centered on Republican efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. Several packages are currently on the table. In May 2017, the House of Representatives passed a repeal and replace package called the American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628) by a vote of 217-213. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Senators are considering several proposals, including one that would just repeal the ACA without providing a replacement. However, no package as of yet has had enough votes to move forward. This afternoon, the Senate voted by a 51-50 vote (with Vice-President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote) to begin debate on the AHCA. Senators will now be able to offer amendments to the House bill, including amendments that would substantively change and even replace the House version (which is widely expected). Some senators voting to start debate, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who made his first appearance on the Senate floor to cast his vote after having been diagnosed with brain cancer, have already indicated that they will not vote for final passage unless considerable changes are made to the House bill.

While the ACA is making major the headlines, in a quiet move last week, the Trump Administration agreed to sign the Covered Agreement negotiated with the European Union by the Obama Administration with respect to how (re)insurance companies that operate on both sides of the Atlantic are regulated. State insurance regulators and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) have strongly opposed the Agreement. Given this strong opposition, it was unclear whether the Trump Administration would support it. Trump cleared up that up this week when his Administration agreed to sign it. One of the key goals of the Agreement is to streamline the regulatory requirements reinsurance companies are required to comply with to operate in other jurisdictions.