Busy Lame Duck Session Ahead in Congress

Now that the midterm election results are in, and the majority parties of both the Senate and House for the next Congress are known, Congress has returned for a lame-duck session with a long to-do list before the 117th Congress ends on January 3, 2023.   

PIA is engaged with Congress on several issues in its final days, including but not limited to:

Extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is set to expire at 11:59pm on Friday, December 16, 2022, Congress extends its authorization. Funding for the federal government is also scheduled to expire at the same time. The NFIP’s most recent five-year reauthorization expired on September 30, 2017, over five years ago. Since that time, the NFIP has been subjected to approximately 20 extensions of varying lengths. With a new Congress beginning just weeks after the NFIP’s current deadline, PIA is advocating for as long of an extension as possible.

How you can help: Take action by clicking here to urge Congress to extend the NFIP for as long as possible.

Inflation Relief for Crop Insurance Agents

PIA is actively urging Congress to provide inflation relief for crop insurance agents in the year-end final FY 2023 appropriations package. PIA is working with allies to encourage Congress to include two provisions that would begin to address the inflation adjustment issue through the appropriations process. 

  • The House Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes monetary  relief for specialty crops.
  • The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes report language confirming that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the legal authority to reinstate the inflation adjustment and provide equitable relief for specialty crops. 

If these two provisions are adopted, it will make explicit Congress’s view that the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) has the legal authority to provide administrative and operating (A&O) inflation adjustment relief for all agents. It will also provide some immediate relief to the specialty crop market because that market’s inherent characteristics mean its circumstances, especially now, when the nation is in a period of substantial inflation, are severe and urgent.

How you can help: Take action by clicking here to urge Congress to provide inflation relief for crop agents.

Cannabis Safe Harbor for Insurance Agents

PIA strongly supports the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1996/S. 910), and it has been a PIA top priority for several congresses. The SAFE Banking Act would protect insurance agents and carriers from federal criminal liability for engaging in the business of insurance with cannabis-related entities in the states where cannabis is legal. Initially conceived as a banking-specific bill, the current SAFE Banking Act includes insurance provisions meant to protect agents, brokers, and insurers.

The SAFE Banking Act has broad support and passed the House, on its own or as part of other legislative packages, four times just during this Congress. Each time, the legislation has stalled because of strong opposition from Senate Democrats, including Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who have been withholding their support for it because they hoped to make it part of a broader criminal justice reform package.

The current lame-duck session is the 117th Congress’s last chance to get the SAFE Banking Act over the finish line before the 118th Congress begins with House Speaker-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at the helm. Given the change in party control in the House, it is unclear whether McCarthy and the rest of the GOP leadership will prioritize this issue in the new Congress.  

PIA supports pairing SAFE Banking with other legislative efforts that would attract the needed bipartisan support for its passage.

How you can help: Take action by clicking here to urge the 117th Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act during the lame-duck session.

Opposition to Burdensome Medicare Rule on Agents

PIA has been vocal in our opposition to a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that makes changes to the Medicare Program. The rule, known as the Medicare Marketing Rule, was finalized in May of 2022; it made significant changes to existing marketing requirements for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans.

The final rule seeks to discourage dishonest marketing behaviors by requiring third-party marketing organizations (TPMOs) to record all enrollment conversations. However, traditional TPMOs are already required to record all enrollment conversations. The rule finalized in May broadens the definition of TPMOs to impose an unnecessary burden on many entities that are acting responsibly, including individual agents and brokers, who will be subject to this new recording requirement.

Unfortunately, efforts to convince the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to revise the rule have been unsuccessful. As a result, PIA, along with our allies elsewhere in the agent community, have been working to have legislation introduced that would exempt agents and brokers from the rule requiring them to record their calls.

PIA is pleased to report that we expect legislation to remove agents and brokers from the TPMO definition to possibly be introduced during the lame duck, and we will be appealing to congressional offices to sign on as cosponsors of any such legislation.

How you can help: Take action by clicking here to urge Congress to oppose this burdensome Medicare rule.

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To find these and other action alerts on the wide array of issues PIA is currently working on during the lame duck, including repeal of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), data privacy, and tax relief, please visit our grassroots action page.