Stay ahead of developments in federal and state health care law, regulation and transactions with timely, expert news and analysis.
By Alex Ruoff
House Republicans want to empower small businesses to form their own health insurance plans for their employees, lawmakers said March 1.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee is considering a bill (H.R. 1101) that would allow businesses to create association health plans, groups of employees of member companies that band together to negotiate better health plans.
The changes together are small portions of the House’s replacement of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said during a March 1 hearing on the bills. Foxx said the nation must turn from the ACA because, she said, it has raised health insurance premiums across the country.
ACA proponents, however, point to evidence that most people purchasing insurance on the individual market place have been shielded from such increases by the ACA’s premium assistance.
Health insurance regulators, however, told lawmakers the association health plans allowed by the small-business bill would only segment the market for small health plans into the healthy and unhealthy by allowing these new plans to cherry-pick beneficiaries. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), in a letter to the committee, also warned the change would leave the new plans unregulated and open to fraud.
House Democrats also used the hearing as a proxy battle over repealing the ACA. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), ranking member of the Education and Workforce Committee, said the proposals would only shift insurance costs from employers onto employees.
In other legislation , lawmakers are considering proposing to change how stop-loss insurance is regulated and protections for employee wellness programs. The committee is set to mark up the bills in coming weeks, but a hearing hasn’t been scheduled.
Association health plans, or AHPs, have existed for some time and are often overseen by trade associations or professional groups. They can help small groups band together to help their members leave the smaller group and individual health insurance markets—which are often subject to yearly changes in premiums and covered benefits—and enter the large group market, generally considered more stable. Also the plan sponsor, for example, an association, may self-insure health benefits for its members’ employees under the model.
Regulators, in their letter, said permitting more businesses to band together to form large insurance groups would take more healthy people out of the small and individual market, exacerbating the problems of those markets.
“This legislation would encourage AHPs to ‘cherry-pick’ healthy groups by designing benefit packages and setting rates so that unhealthy groups are disadvantaged,” the NAIC said. “This, in turn, would make existing state risk pools even riskier and more expensive for insurance carriers, thus making it even harder for sick groups to afford insurance.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kendra Casey Plank at email@example.com
The text of H.R. 1101 is at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-115hr1101ih/pdf/BILLS-115hr1101ih.pdf.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)