Session Review: Banking, Commerce and Insurance

Insurance coverage for children’s hearing aids and behavioral health services were addressed this session, along with regulation of automatic teller machine fees and real estate licenses.

Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee chairperson Sen. Matt Williams

Insurance

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, most insurance plans in Nebraska must cover hearing aids for children. LB15, introduced by Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue, requires that non-exempt plans cover evaluation, fitting, programming, repairs and auditory rehabilitation and training for Nebraskans younger than 19.

Hearing aids must be purchased from a licensed audiologist with medical clearance from an otolaryngologist to be covered.

Small business group health plans are exempt, as are companies for whom expenses associated with the bill would exceed 1 percent of yearly premiums collected. Covered expenses are capped at $3,000 over four years. The bill passed 48-0.

Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage of behavioral health care solely because it is delivered in a school. Under LB619, introduced by Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha, insurers are not required to cover services that otherwise are excluded from a policy. The bill passed 49-0 and takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Legislators also approved a bill that allows Nebraskans with multiple medical prescriptions to coordinate and collect all of their medication on the same day.

LB442, introduced by Sen. John McCollister of Omaha and passed 46-0, allows for medical synchronization if medication:
• is covered by the patient’s health benefit plan or has been approved by a formulary exception process;
• meets the prior authorization or utilization management criteria;
• treats a chronic illness;
• can be safely split into short-fill periods; and
• is not a Schedule II controlled substance.

LB228, introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, would make it illegal for an insurance company to discriminate against organ donors.

LB501, introduce by Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha, would require insurers to cover in vitro fertilization procedures to the same extent that they cover other pregnancy-related procedures.

Both bills remain in committee.

Banking

Certain automatic teller machine fees changed under LB603, introduced by Omaha Sen. Brett Lindstrom. The bill, passed 49-0, removes a requirement that financial institutions must charge the same ATM fees to all other financial institutions.

LB603 affects default interchange fees that are charged between institutions during an ATM transaction. It does not change bank customer ATM fees.

A bill that would raise interest rate caps stalled on select file. LB188, also introduced by Lindstrom, would raise the maximum interest rate on installment loans to 29 percent. Currently, the interest rate on such loans is capped at 24 percent for the first $1,000 of an unpaid balance and 21 percent on any remaining balance.

The bill advanced from general file but was removed from the agenda at Lindstrom’s request. LB188 remains on select file.

LB379, introduced by Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman, would allow a payday lender that has a principal place of business in Nebraska to offer its products online. The bill also would mandate that all payday lenders use the National Mortgage Licensing System and pay an additional licensing fee to be determined by the state Department of Banking and Finance.

LB379 was advanced to general file but was not debated this session.

LB265, introduced by Sen. Andrew La Grone of Gretna, would create a regulation and licensure structure for unsecured consumer installment loans of less than $1,000 with a minimum term of 180 days. The bill also would cap fees charged by lenders at 20 percent of the first $300 borrowed plus 7.5 percent of the loan balance in excess of $300.

The bill remains in committee.

Commerce

Lawmakers approved a bill that changes education requirements for new real estate licenses in Nebraska.

LB384, introduced by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, prohibits an individual with a broker’s license from acting as a designated broker for another licensee unless he or she has taken additional courses post-licensure.

The bill, which passed 31-10, requires that an applicant for a broker’s or salesperson’s license complete six class hours in professional practice and standards and 12 class hours in real estate knowledge and skills within 180 days of being issued a license. All classes must be approved by the Nebraska Real Estate Commission.

The bill takes effect July 1, 2020.

LB12, introduced by Blood, waives the $80 real estate license fee if a military member or their spouse has a valid real estate license from another state or regulatory jurisdiction. The bill passed 47-0 and took effect immediately.

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