In No. 352 (January 29, 2020), I reported that Jessica K. Altman, the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner and primary regulator of Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania (SHIP), filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on January 23 an application for an order placing SHIP in rehabilitation. On January 29, President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt issued the order because "rehabilitation has been requested by and consented to by SHIP's board of directors and the trustees of the Senior Health Care Oversight Trust." (See IN RE: Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania In Rehabilitation, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, No. 1 SHIP 2020.)
The Leavitt Order
Judge Leavitt appointed Commissioner Altman as rehabilitator of SHIP, and said the rehabilitator may appoint a special deputy rehabilitator. The judge ordered the rehabilitator to file a preliminary plan of rehabilitation on or before April 22, 2020, including a timeline for the preparation of a final plan of rehabilitation.
The 13-page order proposed by Commissioner Altman is in the complimentary package offered at the end of No. 352. The five-page order issued by Judge Leavitt is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post.
The Department's Press Release
On February 3, 2020, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (Department) issued a press release announcing the rehabilitation. It said the special deputy rehabilitator is Patrick H. Cantillo. It also said more information is available on the Department's website and on SHIP's website. The press release quoted Commissioner Altman as saying (the full press release is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post):
At this time there will be no immediate changes to the company's insurance policies. But such changes may be part of any rehabilitation plan. Pending the rehabilitation plan, claims and benefits will continue to be paid as they were before the order. It is important that policyholders continue to pay their premiums to avoid cancellation of their policies and loss of valuable insurance coverage.
The SHIP Posting
SHIP, at www.shipltc.com/rehabilitation, posted information: a short statement from SHIP, general questions, policyholder questions, agent and broker questions, other creditor questions, and a modified version of the Department's press release. The modified version includes this paragraph (all the information SHIP posted is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post):
As is typical with financially troubled insurers, there are many contributing causes to SHIP's difficulties, including poor performance of investments and other such matters the details of which are not yet fully known to the Rehabilitator. However, one key contributing factor that is common to many long-term care insurers is that the expected cost of benefits that will be due under the insurance policies in effect greatly exceeds the assets and expected revenues from which such benefits will have to be paid. Many issues contributed to this shortfall and it is too early for the Rehabilitator to be able to identify them with specificity. One that stands out, however, is that the premiums charged historically for many, if not most, of SHIP's long-term care insurance policies were inadequate for the benefits expected to be due under such policies. In this respect, SHIP is no different than much of the LTC industry.
Judge Leavitt has extensive experience with rehabilitations and liquidations of long-term care (LTC) insurance companies. Currently she is President Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, a position to which she was elected in 2016. My experience with her work dates back to May 2012, when she handed the then Pennsylvania commissioner and his predecessor a major defeat in the case of Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company. Briefly, here is what happened.
Joel S. Ario was the Pennsylvania commissioner from 2007 to 2010, and Michael F. Consedine succeeded him. Penn Treaty and an affiliate, LTC insurance companies, were insolvent in January 2009. Ario petitioned the court to place them in rehabilitation. The court did so, and appointed Ario the rehabilitator. In April 2009, Ario submitted to the court a preliminary rehabilitation plan, and said he planned to submit a formal plan in October 2009. Instead he petitioned to convert the plan to a liquidation. Penn Treaty and its board chairman petitioned to allow them to intervene in opposition to the liquidation petition. The court granted the petition.
The parties tried unsuccessfully to reach a settlement. A bench trial before Judge Leavitt began in January 2011. The trial was suspended while the parties tried to reach a settlement. Again the effort failed and the trial resumed in October 2011. The trial lasted 30 days and ended in February 2012. Under Pennsylvania law, the rehabilitator (then Consedine) had to prove the rehabilitation would substantially increase the risk of loss to creditors, policyholders, or the public, or would be futile. In May 2012, Judge Leavitt issued a 162-page opinion and a brief order. She ruled Consedine had not met his burden of proof, and she denied the liquidation petition. She ordered Consedine to develop a rehabilitation plan in consultation with the intervenors, and ruled the intervenors were entitled to attorney fees and costs. Here are some extraordinary comments in Judge Leavitt's ruling:
The Insurance Commissioner, wearing his hat as a regulator of the Pennsylvania insurance industry, refused to approve the Companies' actuarially justified rate increase filings in the amount requested, both before and after rehabilitation. The Commissioner has even discouraged other state regulators from approving rate increases. Now the Commissioner seeks to liquidate the Companies because their premium rates are inadequate....
The Rehabilitator's evidence showed that rate regulation is governed by politics, not actuarial evidence or legal principles. The Rehabilitator has even included Pennsylvania in the list of problem states that have refused to approve [Penn Treaty's] actuarially justified rate increase filings for [certain] policies. This case presents a serious indictment of the existing system of rate regulation of long-term care insurance.
At the trial, the rehabilitator's actuarial expert was an actuary at Milliman, Inc., an actuarial consulting firm. There were major differences of opinion in 60-year projections by Milliman and the intervenors' actuary. Judge Leavitt found the testimony by the intervenors' actuary more compelling than Milliman's testimony.
I wrote about the Penn Treaty incident in the August 2012 issue of The Insurance Forum, the monthly newsletter I published from January 1974 until December 2013. The article is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. Judge Leavitt placed Penn Treaty in liquidation on March 1, 2017, as reported in No. 208 (March 13, 2017).
I fear the proposed rehabilitation plan to be submitted to the court by April 22 will involve a devastating combination of premium increases and benefit reductions, including benefit reductions for policyholders currently receiving benefits. Furthermore, I consider it possible that Judge Leavitt will reject the plan, and that she will order liquidation of the company. That would lead to SHIP being placed in the hands of the National Organization of Life and Health Guaranty Associations, which would coordinate the response of the state guaranty associations.
I am offering a complimentary 23-page PDF consisting of Judge Leavitt's order (5 pages), the Department's press release (1 page), the information posted on SHIP's website (15 pages), and the August 2012 Forum article (2 pages). Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the February 2020 package about the SHIP rehabilitation.