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Iowa House OKs association health plans; Allstate cat bond grows to $500M

The Iowa House voted 69-30 to approve a legislative package that seeks to allow small business and associations in the state to offer health plans that are not fully compliant with the Affordable Care Act, The Gazette reported. Senate File 2349 will allow small employers to band together to buy insurance through so-called association health plans that bypass certain provisions of the ACA.

Allstate Corp.'s Sanders Re Ltd. Series 2018-1 catastrophe bond has upsized by 25% to $500 million from the initial size of $400 million, Artemis reported. The coupon price guidance has reportedly been fixed at 5.5% now.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is upset that a healthcare market stabilization proposal backed by her and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has not made it in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package unveiled on March 21. The exclusion of the health bill from the omnibus was "extremely disappointing," she tweeted, adding that it was the "last opportunity" to prevent rate hikes and help stabilize the market.

The House could vote on the omnibus as soon as today, according to The Hill.

Regulators should be cautious about measuring an insurer's systemic risk by its business activities rather than at a company level, Federal Reserve Board Associate Director Tom Sullivan said at a recent conference. While discussing President Donald Trump's administration's pivot to an activities-based model for evaluating insurers' financial stability, away from an entity-based approach, Sullivan said that although an activities-based approach is better, it is "not a panacea" for measuring risk.

Following significant initial financial losses, health insurers' profitability in the Affordable Care Act's individual market has increased thanks to significant premium raises and Medicaid expansion, The Council of Economic Advisers said in a report. Health insurers could become more profitable in 2018 as a result of the tax reform, the report said.

Featured news

GSK in lead for Pfizer's consumer arm; Sanofi generics unit bidder drops out: House and Senate leaders have agreed to give the National Institutes of Health a $3 billion boost in funding under the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package unveiled late-night yesterday, granting the biomedical research agency total funding of over $37 billion for fiscal 2018, its largest budget ever.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: China names head of new financial regulator; Japan insurers to merge pension ops

Europe: Deutsche Bank slides; UBS, New York reach settlement; SocGen sets CET1 target

Middle East & Africa: 2 Abu Dhabi funds merging; South Africa, Nigeria sit out African free trade pact

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 1.09% to 31,071.05, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.99% to 21,591.99.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.60% to 6,996.71, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.92% to 1,014.11.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the FHFA house price index, the PMI Composite Flash report, the leading indicators report, the EIA natural gas report, the Kansas City fed manufacturing index, the fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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