Last Updated: Jul 1, 2019
Update: During the course of June budget negotiations, another bill – HB 1461 – was amended to include provisions addressing the JUA that are similar to those included in SB 720, the bill discussed in this article. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the budget, including HB 1461, into law on June 28, 2019.
In recent years, the Pa. General Assembly has attempted to transfer $200 million from the Pennsylvania Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association (JUA) to help balance the state’s budget. One version of that bill would even eliminate the JUA if it refused to transfer the money to the state. Each attempt to transfer that money has been momentarily blocked by a federal court due to lawsuits initiated by the JUA.
In apparent response to these roadblocks, the General Assembly is now looking to have more state oversight of the JUA, something that the federal court has indicated is within the purview of the General Assembly.
SB 720, introduced on June 4, 2019 by Senate President Pro Temp Joseph Scarnati, would require the JUA to report specific information to the state, including:
- A report of written estimates to the Secretary of Budget
- Within 30 days of the submission of these estimates, an agent of the JUA would be required to appear before the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and the House Insurance Committee to testify about the contents of that report
- Require the JUA to annually appear before the House and Senate Appropriations Committee to testify as to the fiscal status of the JUA and make any requests for appropriations
- Require the JUA to hold quarterly public meetings to discuss the actuarial and fiscal status of the JUA
In addition to these reporting requirements, the JUA will be required:
- To submit a list of all JUA employees and those employees will now be listed under the state’s PennWATCH website (a website that tracks state expenditures, including employee salaries)
- To be subject to the state’s Right-to-Know Law, Procurement Code, and Commonwealth Attorney’s Act
- To conduct all business in state-owned office buildings
- To be funded as determined by the General Assembly through appropriations
- To ensure that any employee of the JUA with access to Federal tax information has met all the requirements of the prerequisites of the Department of Revenue to gain access to that information
During the course of June budget negotiations, another bill – HB 1461 – was amended to include provisions addressing the JUA that are similar to those included in SB 720. HB 1461 was approved by the Pa. Senate on June 27, 2019. The governor signed the budget package, including HB 1461, into law on June 28, 2019.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) will continue to monitor the status of the legislation and provide updates.
You can read about prior events concerning the JUA in PAMED’s JUA Timeline of Events here.