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Tuesday, October 28

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NTCA’s Industry and Wireless Committees met jointly June 15 and 16 for their summer meeting at NTCA’s Arlington headquarters.  The committees discussed several key regulatory issues and provided feedback and guidance to association staff as it advocates the rural agenda at the FCC.

The groups welcomed guest speaker, Angela Kronenberg, acting legal advisor on wireline issues for FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who provided an overview of the commissioner’s stance on the national broadband plan (NBP) and also answered several questions from members about the plan and how NTCA members can best communicate with the commission.   She encouraged members to continue their visits to staff in Commissioner Clyburn’s office as they are always interested in hearing the rural perspective on issues.

    photos of meeting

photos of meeting

At the conclusion of their meeting, the committees held a joint session with members of the Government Affairs Committee, also in Arlington this week for its summer meeting.  Industry Committee Chair Wendy Fast (Consolidated Telephone Co., Lincoln, Neb.) offered an overview of the Industry committee’s position on the NBP and then the groups engaged in a discussion about each committee’s efforts and responsibilities going forward.

photos of meeting

photos of meeting

photos of meeting

At its meeting, the Government Affairs Committee focused on its own advocacy agenda, specifically the NBP and the potential introduction of a universal service reform bill by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), as well net neutrality and video issues including the proposed Comcast-NBCU merger. 

As part of its ongoing efforts to provide a unified rural voice to policy-makers, the committee welcomed guests from rural industry organizations for a candid discussion about each group’s advocacy and outreach efforts surrounding the NBP.  The group included OPASTCO’s Randy Tyree, WTA’s Derrick Owens, Colin Sandy of NECA, Cobank’s Sarah Tyree and Brad Captain of RTFC.  The Cobank and RTFC representatives offered insight on their efforts to educate policy-makers about how the NBP, as written, will harm rural providers’ ability to fulfill loan commitments and will stifle future network investment.

photos of meeting

The three committees will meet separately at NTCA’s 2010 Fall Conference.  In the interim, they will hold regular conference calls to keep informed of developments and provide guidance on NTCA’s policy direction.

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March 31, 2010

Health care reform has traveled a long path over the past year. The NTCA Group Health Program (GHP) Trust Committee, the committee's professional advisors and NTCA staff have followed developments closely during this time.

On March 21, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the U.S. Senate's health care reform bill, the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (H.R. 3590). Immediately afterwards, the House passed an additional bill, the "Health and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010" (H.R. 4872), which included changes to the Senate bill. President Obama signed the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (H.R. 3590) into law on March 23, 2010. But the story doesn't end there.

On March 25, 2010, the U.S. Senate passed the reconciliation bill, H.R. 4872, but with minor technical corrections. Thus the reconciliation bill went back to the U.S. House, where it was approved on the evening of March 25, 2010. On March 30, 2010, President Obama signed the reconciliation bill into law.

According to GHP's legal counsel, Groom Law Group of Washington, D.C., passage of the final version of health care reform will require close study to fully determine its impact on GHP. With counsel's help, the GHP Trust Committee is working diligently to identify changes that may be required in GHP as early as 2011, and those that will be effective in later years. The committee intends to make changes to GHP as necessary to comply with federal law. Some of the new rules that may impact GHP covered benefits as early as 2011 are:

  • No annual or lifetime limits on "essential benefits;"
  • Coverage of dependent children to age 26;
  • No pre-existing condition exclusions for covered children under age 19.

We understand NTCA members and your GHP plan participants have many questions regarding heath care reform. We want to assure you that a detailed analysis of each provision in the health care reform law is underway. NTCA members will be provided regular updates on the status of this important topic.

There is much work to do in the coming months and the GHP Trust Committee considers this one of their highest priorities. GHP remains as viable today as it was prior to health care reform. It has been and will continue to be the best health plan available to NTCA members and your employees.