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Weekly news through Jan. 20

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Weekly news through Jan. 20

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week.

Risk & Regulation

The House of Representatives started the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, voting 227-198 on a budget resolution to instruct committees to draft the repeal legislation by Jan. 27, Reuters reported. The measure was earlier approved by the U.S. Senate.

The number of uninsured people would increase by 18 million and individual market premiums would rise by 20% to 25% a year after a partial repeal of the ACA, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

In Maryland, the uninsured rate decreased by more than one-third, primarily driven by Medicaid expansion, but a repeal of the ACA would force the state to decide the future of Medicaid expansion, the Maryland Department of Legislative Affairs said in a report.

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The Department of Labor issued a proposed rule that would make it easier for larger insurance intermediaries and agents to sell fixed-annuity products on commission.

Life and health

Anthem Inc. extended the termination date of its merger agreement with Cigna Corp., saying it needed more time to consummate the pending merger.

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UnitedHealth Group Inc. does not expect any additional financial exposure in 2017 from individual exchange business related to the ACA.

Separately, the company anticipates a $350 million operating charge related to the insolvency of Penn Treaty as a result of state guaranty association laws.

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Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Co. may be new to the pursuit of rate increases on in-force business, but it is encountering some of the same resistance to its filings as peers that have been through the process on multiple occasions.

P&C

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation intends to sell 60 million class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. by 2020. The shares are worth about $9.63 billion, based on the $160.49-per-share closing price of Berkshire's class B shares on Jan. 18.

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MGIC Investment Corp. President and CEO Patrick Sinks is not "anti-FHA," but he does have an issue with the Federal Housing Administration's decision to cut insurance premiums on most mortgages and the agency's overall role in the housing market, the executive said during an earnings call.

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White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd.-majority-owned OneBeacon Insurance Group Ltd. is once again exploring a sale.

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Downward pressure on premium writings in select commercial lines of business in combination with escalating private-passenger auto loss ratios through the first three quarters of 2016 may lead to slightly higher full-year combined ratios for the U.S. P&C industry in the near term, revised S&P Global Market Intelligence projections show.

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CastlePoint National Insurance Co. continues to move closer to a proposed liquidation expected to begin in March, having paid out $210.1 million in claims since entering conservation July 28, 2016.

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