Legislature(2011 - 2012)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/08/2011 02:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Meeting Postponed from 1:30p.m. to 2:00p.m. --
*+ SB 70 ALASKA HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
= SB 34 SMALL BUSINESS REVOLVING FUND
Moved CSSB 34(L&C) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                        
                        February 8, 2011                                                                                        
                           2:03 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dennis Egan, Chair                                                                                                      
Senator Joe Paskvan, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Linda Menard                                                                                                            
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 34                                                                                                              
"An Act establishing the Alaska small business revolving loan                                                                   
fund; relating to the fund and loans from the fund; and                                                                         
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 34(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 70                                                                                                              
"An Act establishing the Alaska Health Benefit Exchange; and                                                                    
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  34                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SMALL BUSINESS REVOLVING FUND                                                                                      
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) WIELECHOWSKI, ELLIS, PASKVAN, MCGUIRE,                                                                   
MENARD, THOMAS                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/14/11                                                                               
01/19/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/11       (S)       L&C, FIN                                                                                               
02/03/11       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/03/11       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/03/11       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
02/08/11       (S)       L&C AT 2:00 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  70                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ALASKA HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE                                                                                     
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) FRENCH                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
01/26/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/26/11       (S)       L&C, FIN                                                                                               
02/08/11       (S)       L&C AT 2:00 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DANA OWEN, Staff to Senator Egan                                                                                                
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Explained changes in CSSB 34 from original                                                                
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BILL WIELECHOWSKI, sponsor of SB 34                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Approved changes in CSSB 34.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH, sponsor of SB 70                                                                                         
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Read sponsor statement.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ANDY MADEROW, Staff to Senator French                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented sectional analysis of SB 70.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK REGAN, Legal Director                                                                                                      
Disability Law Center of Alaska                                                                                                 
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 70.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
WANETTA AYERS, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Economic Development                                                                                                
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development                                                                     
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 34.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
RON KREIER, Acting Director                                                                                                     
Division of Public Assistance                                                                                                   
Department of Health and Social Services                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 70.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
LINDA HALL, Director                                                                                                            
Division of Insurance                                                                                                           
Department  of  Commerce,   Community  and  Economic  Development                                                               
(DCCED)                                                                                                                         
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 70.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
PAT LOVEY, Advocacy Director                                                                                                    
American Association of Retired Persons                                                                                         
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 70.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JOHN GEORGE                                                                                                                     
Aflac Insurance                                                                                                                 
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Requested technical change to SB 34.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CRAIG DAHL, President and CEO                                                                                                   
Alaska Pacific Bank                                                                                                             
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 34.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DORIS ROBBINS, representing herself                                                                                             
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 70.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:03:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DENNIS EGAN  called the Senate Labor  and Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 2:03  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were  Senators Giessel, Davis,  Paskvan, Menard,  and Chair                                                               
Egan.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
              SB  34-SMALL BUSINESS REVOLVING FUND                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR EGAN announced the first order  of business would be SB 34,                                                               
relating to the small business revolving loan fund.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:05:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN moved to adopt  the proposed committee substitute                                                               
to SB  34, labeled  27-LS0286\B, as the  working document  of the                                                               
committee. Without objection, the motion carried.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:06:02 PM                                                                                                                    
DANA OWEN, staff  to Senator Egan, explained the  changes to CSSB                                                               
34 from the  original bill. On page 2, line  13, the word "grant"                                                               
was missing, which was a drafting  oversight. On page 3, lines 16                                                               
-  21 now  include  a  turn-down provision.  This  gives banks  a                                                               
chance to  make or deny  loans before  the business comes  to the                                                               
state.  He explained this  turn-down provision would apply to any                                                               
loan in excess  of $35,000, and noted that the  bankers are happy                                                               
with it.  On line  30, new  language clarifies  that you  must be                                                               
turned down  from an  Alaska institution. Mr.  Owen noted  a memo                                                               
attached to the  draft CS by Legislative  Legal Services Attorney                                                               
Terry  Bannister,  which  points  out  potential  conflicts  with                                                               
federal law. This is not unusual.  He further noted there are two                                                               
revised fiscal notes.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:08:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI, sponsor  of SB  34, said  he supports  the                                                               
changes in the CS, and noted it is a very fair compromise.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:09:42 PM                                                                                                                    
WANETTA  AYERS, Director,  Division  of  Commerce, Community  and                                                               
Economic  Development,  said  she  was available  to  answer  any                                                               
questions about the fiscal notes.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:10:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CRAIG  DAHL,  President and  CEO,  Alaska  Pacific Bank,  Juneau,                                                               
representing   that  bank   as   well  as   the  Alaska   Bankers                                                               
Association,  testified that  both support  SB 70.  He said  that                                                               
Alaskan  banks  have  consistently   served  the  small  business                                                               
community.  In addition  to direct  lending, all  the banks  have                                                               
participated in federal government  programs. For example, Alaska                                                               
Pacific Bank  has received the  Small Business  Association (SBA)                                                               
Community Lender  of the Year  award for four  consecutive years.                                                               
Wells  Fargo has  received the  SBA lender  of the  year for  two                                                               
consecutive years.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:14:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN  commented it  was his  understanding that  SB 34                                                               
focuses  on  new  business  customers,  as  opposed  to  existing                                                               
customers receiving new loans.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAHL replied  they do not have a breakdown  of those numbers,                                                               
but  in general  there were  not a  lot of  brand new  businesses                                                               
starting up in the past year.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:16:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN moved to report CS for SB 34 from committee with                                                                
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
Without objection, CSSB 34(L&C) moved from committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:16:53 PM - 2:18 p.m.                                                                                                        
At-ease.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
             SB  70-ALASKA HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:18:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EGAN announced SB 70 to be up for consideration.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH, sponsor of SB 70, introduced the bill and                                                                
read the sponsor statement, as follows:                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Competition  improves quality,  lowers  cost and  gives                                                                    
     consumers  a  meaningful  choice.   The  Alaska  Health                                                                    
     Benefit  Exchange will  make  private health  insurance                                                                    
     companies more  responsive to health care  consumers in                                                                    
     Alaska.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Buying   health   insurance   can  be   difficult   and                                                                    
     complicated.    This    legislation   helps   consumers                                                                    
     identify and  enroll in a health  insurance policy that                                                                    
     will serve  them well, regardless of  what their future                                                                    
     holds.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     The Exchange  will promote  competition among  plans by                                                                    
     providing  information   to  consumers  on   a  leveled                                                                    
     playing   field.   Today,   individuals  shopping   for                                                                    
     airline  tickets  can  log onto  the  internet  and  in                                                                    
     minutes  view competing  itineraries, sorted  by route,                                                                    
     schedule,  carrier and  price.  In  this same  way, the                                                                    
     web  based  portal  created by  this  bill  will  allow                                                                    
     health insurance  consumers to compare  carriers, cost-                                                                    
     sharing,   benefit  design,   and   premium  costs   of                                                                    
     different plans, all in a manner of minutes.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     The legislation  helps make health  coverage affordable                                                                    
     for Alaskans.  The  exchange will determine eligibility                                                                    
     for   health   insurance  tax   credits,   cost-sharing                                                                    
     assistance,    medical    assistance   programs    like                                                                    
     Medicaid.   Through the  Small Business  Health Options                                                                    
     Program  (SHOP),   the  exchange  will   connect  small                                                                    
     businesses  with   tax  incentives  and   an  insurance                                                                    
     pooling  mechanism, which  can  stabilize premiums  and                                                                    
     make coverage  more affordable.  Finally,  the exchange                                                                    
     establishes  the mechanism  to exempt  people from  the                                                                    
     requirement  to  have  health coverage,  if  affordable                                                                    
     insurance products aren't available.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     An exchange can  open the door to  innovative ways that                                                                    
     keep health  care costs down.   For years, the  idea of                                                                    
     buying and selling health  insurance across state lines                                                                    
     has  been  cited as  a  competitive  response to  small                                                                    
     insurance  pools.    This  legislation  will   ask  the                                                                    
     Exchange board to consider  interstate compacts, and if                                                                    
     one  makes  sense  for  Alaskans,  legislation  can  be                                                                    
     proposed to make it happen.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Forty-nine  other   states  are  working   towards  the                                                                    
     establishment of an exchange,  and while other elements                                                                    
     of health  reform are controversial, the  exchange idea                                                                    
     is championed  by Governors of  both parties -  even by                                                                    
     those  who are  suing  the federal  government to  stop                                                                    
     reform.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     'State   exchanges  are   good   from  a   conservative                                                                    
     standpoint  because they  involve  consumer choice  and                                                                    
     markets,  said former  US Senate  Majority Leader  Bill                                                                    
     Frist, a  Tennessee Republican, in an  Associated Press                                                                    
     article   (1/22/11). 'Each   state  can   develop   the                                                                    
     exchange that best meets the needs of their people.'                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Finally, this legislation is our  last chance to create                                                                    
     a  health  insurance exchange  on  our  own terms.   By                                                                    
     2014,  the  state  is  required  to  have  a  consumer-                                                                    
     centered  exchange that  makes buying  health insurance                                                                    
     easier   for  individuals   and  small   businesses  in                                                                    
     Alaska.  If  we don't  act now, the  federal government                                                                    
     will.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Please join me in  supporting an Alaskan-based solution                                                                    
     which puts Alaskans first.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:24:30 PM                                                                                                                    
ANDY MADEROW, staff to Senator French, presented a sectional                                                                    
analysis of SB 70, as follows:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Section 1, through page 2, line 5, provides the intent language                                                                 
for SB 70; fundamental to the aim of SB 70 is connecting                                                                        
individuals and  small business with  quality health  policies to                                                               
reduce the number of uninsured Alaskans.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Section 2,  starting on  page 2, line  6, establishes  the health                                                               
benefit exchange as a public corporation of the state.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section  21.51.210 establishes  a board  of directors  to oversee                                                               
exchange; the board has 13 members.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Section  21.54.220  outlines  powers  and duties  of  the  health                                                               
benefit  exchange.  The  primary  duty  of  the  exchange  is  to                                                               
facilitate purchase and sale of qualified health plans.                                                                         
Sections  (a) 3  and (a)  13  both establish  the Small  Business                                                               
Health Options Program (SHOP).                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:27:51 PM                                                                                                                    
Section (a)4 provides for a telephone call center.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)5  requires that enrollment  periods be  held annually                                                               
to facilitate the changing of plans.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Section   (a)6  provides   for  the   creation  of   an  internet                                                               
marketplace   to  connect   individuals  with   health  insurance                                                               
coverage.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)7  provides for  certification and  decertification of                                                               
health plans sold through the exchange.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Sections (a)8  and (a)9  require the  exchange to  compare health                                                               
plans on metrics of quality and price.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)10 requires the exchange  to use a standardized format                                                               
for presenting health benefit options in the exchange                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Section  (a)11  requires  the  exchange  to  determine  potential                                                               
eligibility for state or local  medical assistance programs, such                                                               
as Medicaid and Denali KidCare.   If qualified, the exchange will                                                               
assist with the enrollment process.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)12 establishes a tax credit calculator.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)14  requires that the  exchanges exempt  Alaskans from                                                               
requirement  to retain  health insurance  if certain  criteria is                                                               
met.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)15  relates to  sharing information  about individuals                                                               
exempted from the health insurance requirement.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Section  (a)16 notifies  an employer  when  an employee  receives                                                               
premium  assistance  from  the  government,  either  because  the                                                               
employer doesn't  offer a  plan, or offers  a plan  which doesn't                                                               
meet minimum standards or is unaffordable.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Section  (a)17 explicitly  states that  the exchange  will assist                                                               
consumers  by determining  eligibility for  premium tax  credits,                                                               
reduced-cost sharing, or exemptions from the insurance mandate.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)18 sets  up the framework for  Navigator Grants. These                                                               
grants can be  pursued by most organizations or  trade groups for                                                               
the  purposes   of  helping  the  exchange   fulfill  its  goals.                                                               
Navigator  duties  include   enrollment  assistance,  information                                                               
sharing, and assistance with dispute resolution.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)19 requires the board  to consider the rate of premium                                                               
growth within and outside the  exchange, in an effort to evaluate                                                               
the effect  and benefit of incorporating  larger employers within                                                               
SHOP exchange                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)20  asks the board  to consider policy  and procedures                                                               
that  minimize adverse  selection, both  inside the  exchange and                                                               
between plans sold within and outside the exchange.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)21  requires the  exchange to  provide credit  for any                                                               
"free choice voucher"  that an employer provides  an employee for                                                               
the purpose of covering premium costs.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Sections  (a)23   and  24   outline  accounting   procedures  and                                                               
submission  of receipts  for review,  to both  federal and  state                                                               
stakeholders.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)25  allows for cooperation  with any  investigation or                                                               
audit by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)26 allows  a health insurer to offer  a limited dental                                                               
plan as  part of a  qualified health  plan, so long  as pediatric                                                               
dental benefits are included.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Section (a)27  requires the  exchange to  apply for  planning and                                                               
establishment  grants  for  the  exchange. Grants  of  up  to  $1                                                               
million  have been  awarded  to each  of 49  states  to date  for                                                               
planning.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Section   (a)28   requires   the    exchange   board   to   offer                                                               
recommendations  about potential  interstate compacts  that would                                                               
permit the  sale and  purchase of  health insurance  across state                                                               
lines.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section (b)1,  found on page  8 lines 21-27, allows  the exchange                                                               
to contract  out some  of the  responsibilities outlined  in this                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
Section  (b)2  allows  the exchange  to  share  information  with                                                               
federal  and   state  agencies,  provided   that  confidentiality                                                               
protections are upheld.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Section (b)3  allows the  exchange to  receive grants  to finance                                                               
operations.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Section (c)  prohibits certain  expenses to  keep costs  down for                                                               
consumers.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Section  (d)  ensures  individuals  won't be  penalized  if  they                                                               
change  coverage  because  they   are  newly  eligible  for  that                                                               
coverage, or if employer sponsored coverage becomes affordable.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:36:15 PM                                                                                                                    
Proposed Section  21.54.230 of  the new title,  found on  page 9,                                                               
line  14,  through  page  13,  line 7,  relates  to  health  plan                                                               
certification.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:38:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL  asked why  the  exchange  is established  as  a                                                               
public corporation.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH explained that this  was a policy decision made to                                                               
emphasize   that  the   exchange   is   more  market-based   than                                                               
government-based.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:39:35 PM                                                                                                                    
RON  KREIER,  Acting  Director, Division  of  Public  Assistance,                                                               
Department  of  Health and  Social  Services  (DHSS), stated  the                                                               
division had prepared a fiscal  note under the assumption that it                                                               
would receive  information directly  from the exchange  and would                                                               
issue benefits.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:40:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  EGAN responded  the committee  does not  have that  fiscal                                                               
note and would not move SB 70 today.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KRIER replied  the fiscal  note  would be  delivered to  the                                                               
committee as soon as possible.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS asked why the fiscal note came from his division.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. KRIER said  his assumption was that the  health care exchange                                                               
would  not make  actual determinations  of benefits;  rather, the                                                               
division would do that through public assistance.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DAVIS asked  if the  department had  consulted with  the                                                               
Division of Insurance.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:43:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. KRIER replied  that he had not discussed this  issue with the                                                               
Division of Insurance.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DAVIS  noted  that  other consumers  would  also  use  the                                                               
exchange, and  she thought the  division of insurance  would have                                                               
an interest.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LINDA  HALL,  Director,  Division  of  Insurance,  Department  of                                                               
Commerce,  Community  and  Economic  Development  (DCCED),  noted                                                               
there has been a substantial amount  of work on fiscal notes. The                                                               
division is in  the process of reviewing numbers,  trying to make                                                               
the fiscal note as accurate as possible.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS  noted that Alaska is  the only state that  has not                                                               
accepted federal money to set up a health care exchange.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL confirmed that was true.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS asked if the money was still available.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL replied  the money was still available, but  there was a                                                               
short timeline.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD asked if Utah has set up an exchange program.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL said yes, also Massachusetts.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD asked  if the Division of Insurance  is in contact                                                               
with those states.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL  said they are in  contact with a number  of states, and                                                               
research  is being  done, especially  with regard  to what  might                                                               
benefit Alaskans.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:48:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PASKVAN asked  Ms.  Hall  if she  believed  SB 70  would                                                               
reduce the number of uninsured.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HALL  answered  she  did  not know,  but  Alaska  does  have                                                               
extremely  high health  care  costs, which  is  the primary  cost                                                               
driver for  health insurance  premiums. Competition  could impact                                                               
that.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PASKVAN  noted  this  is   a  capitalistic  approach  to                                                               
hopefully lower costs and numbers of uninsured.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL concurred.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:50:04 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  said the short answer  is yes. SB 70  is designed                                                               
to insure more people by  offering private insurance to consumers                                                               
through an exchange;  the bill preserves the  insurance system as                                                               
it is now.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:51:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DAVIS  asked  if  Senator French  would  be  opposed  to                                                               
extending this bill to insurance carriers in neighboring states.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  replied  that  is  one of  the  aspects  of  the                                                               
exchange. One reality of living in  Alaska is that it has a small                                                               
pool of  people. He  also noted that  regulation of  insurance is                                                               
largely a state  matter, not a national effort,  and the exchange                                                               
specifically  makes  provision  for   exploring  the  process  of                                                               
pooling with other states.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GIESSEL  asked  why  the director  of  the  Division  of                                                               
Insurance would not be a member of the board.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH replied  he doubted  that Ms.  Hall would  accept                                                               
such a  position, but  should the  committee ask  to add  her, he                                                               
would welcome the addition.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL deferred response.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:54:14 PM                                                                                                                    
PAT LOVEY,  Advocacy Director, AARP Alaska,  testified in support                                                               
of SB 70.  She stressed that if the state  does not establish its                                                               
own exchange, the federal government will impose one on it.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:56:32 PM                                                                                                                    
DORIS  ROBBINS, representing  herself, said  she supports  SB 70,                                                               
because you  never know when an  insurer will end coverage  or an                                                               
unexpected medical bill  will put you in  financial jeopardy. The                                                               
exchange will  act as a  one-stop-shop for choice making  with no                                                               
hidden  fees, and  all rules  on display.  She noted  the federal                                                               
cash  for  set-up costs  was  not  earmark  money, and  with  the                                                               
cooperation  of  the governor,  exchange  start-up  costs can  be                                                               
paid.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:59:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MARK  REGAN, Legal  Director, Disability  Law  Center of  Alaska,                                                               
testified in support  of SB 70. He said the  exchange would serve                                                               
people with  disabilities as well  as other consumers,  and might                                                               
make it possible  for health care costs to  come down. Reluctance                                                               
to the idea of the exchange  may be based on misunderstanding, he                                                               
commented. In reality, the exchange  will not penalize people for                                                               
not having private health insurance.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:04:12 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN GEORGE,  representing Aflac Insurance, said  they don't have                                                               
a duck in  the fight, but he would like  to recommend a technical                                                               
change to  SB 70. On page  13, the bill states  that the exchange                                                               
is to be  funded by fees or assessments on  health care insurers.                                                               
Under  definitions, Aflac  would like  to add  "insurers offering                                                               
health  benefit plans"  on page  13, line  9. This  wording would                                                               
exclude  other types  of insurance  such as  automobile insurance                                                               
medical   payments,   and   would   ensure   that   only   people                                                               
participating  in the  exchange  are  funding the  administrative                                                               
costs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked if only  insurers offering  health benefit                                                               
plans would pay the fees.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GEORGE  responded  that  automobile  medical  coverage,  for                                                               
example, should not be included.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:07:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EGAN closed public testimony and held SB 70 in committee.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MENARD asked  if they  had  weighed in  with the  Alaska                                                               
Medical Society or the Alaska Dental Society.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH said many people are still looking at the bill.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL noted the committee  should hear from some of the                                                               
large insurers in Alaska.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD noted the state has chosen Wells Fargo.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR EGAN stated he would have his staff contact several                                                                     
insurers before the next meeting, if the bill sponsor did not                                                                   
object.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH said he had no objection.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
[SB 70 was held in committee.]                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:09:26 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Egan adjourned the meeting at 3:09 p.m.                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 70 Disability Law Center lttr supporting.PDF SL&C 2/8/2011 2:00:00 PM
SB 70