The NAIFA Government Relations Team today provided their annual update to members during the Legislative Forum of the 2013 NAIFA Career Conference and Annual Meeting in San Antonio.
NAIFA consultant Danea Kehoe told an appreciative audience that all signs indicate that forthcoming tax reform proposals in Congress will not include taxing the inside build-up of life insurance. As the applause died down, however, Kehoe warned that NAIFA members cannot declare final victory yet. Tax proposals could yet target corporate-owned life insurance, or limit exemptions for employer-provided benefits.
The Affordable Care Act
NAIFA Vice President of Federal Government Relations Diane Boyle discussed NAIFA’s two-pronged Affordable Care Act (ACA) strategy. On the legislative front, NAIFA is working to encourage Congress to fix the most troublesome provisions of the law. “We hope that by adding sugar to the lemons,” Boyle said, “we can make lemonade – or more appropriately for San Antonio, margaritas.”
On the regulatory side of the ACA, NAIFA is educating regulators about NAIFA and the important work NAIFA members do. We’ve made progress, Boyle said, and have moved past the early days when a regulator asked a NAIFA contingent if it would make sense to prohibit agents and brokers from speaking with clients after enrolling them in a plan. Showing that the NAIFA message is getting through,the government’s www.healthcare.gov website now includes information on the benefits brokers and agents provide consumers.
Also as part of the regulatory prong of NAIFA’s ACA strategy, NAIFA is “dealing with what we know to be the law” by providing information and education to help members understand their responsibilities under the law and continue to serve their clients. NAIFA’s ACA information site provides a comprehensive resource for members and their clients on the web.
“NAIFA’s goal,” Boyle said, “is to ensure NAIFA members can continue to serve your clients and be fairly compensated for your important work.”
NAIFA consultant Scott Sinder added that there are still many unknowns with the health care law. Most important may be a legal challenge over wording of the law that could prohibit federal subsidies for people in 27 states with federally run exchanges. The case goes to court Oct. 21.
Fiduciary and NARAB II
Aside from health care, NAIFA faces challenges on the federal front over potential proposals from the Department of Labor and Securities and Exchange Commission to impose legal fiduciary duties on advisors. NAIFA is working with members of Congress and coalition partners in an effort to prevent the DOL proposal, which could come early next year, from endangering the broker-dealer model that has served clients well for decades. NAIFA recently submitted comments in response to the SEC’s request for information on the fiduciary issue. Now it is up to the commission to propose a fiduciary rule, drop the matter, or request additional information.
NAIFA Assistant Vice President of Federal Government Relations Jill Hoffman told NAIFA members that their efforts played a big part in passage of the NARAB II bill (which would streamline producer multi-state licensing) in the Senate Banking Committee with bi-partisan support. The bill, which has passed in the House, now awaits action by the full Senate. Hoffman acknowledged extraordinary grassroots efforts by NAIFA members in Oklahoma as they try to convince Sen. Tom Coburn of that state to withdraw his objections to the bill.
In the States
Finally, the GR Team reported NAIFA is also active in the states to fend off efforts to tax annuities or the premiums or sales of life insurance. NAIFA efforts in several states have headed off drive to tax the inside buildup of Life insurance. NAIFA is also active in several states that have proposed suitability standards for life insurance sales. NAIFA will be testifying on the matter in Wyoming to urge legislators to refuse to impose additional regulations on agents unless they address a real problem.