Alexander (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., says he’ll spend the next three weeks developing and attempting to pass a bipartisan bill that would provide one year of funding for cost-sharing reduction subsidies and increase flexibility on key Affordable Care Act requirements through changes to the state waiver program. Hearings begin this week, when the panel will hear from governors and state insurance officials.
Politico (9/1), The Hill (9/5)
If President Trump were to issue an executive order resending the exemption for Politicians from the Affordable Care Act (ACA “ObamacareP}, how quickly do you think the Congress and/or Senate would come up with something workable? Or do you think they could live with the same coverage you live with?
“Repeal and Replace”
Ultimately, whether the individual mandate and the associated penalty remains intact or goes away depends on what Republicans in the Senate decide to do. The American Health Care Act, which passed the House of Representatives in early May, would not eliminate the individual mandate but rather would reduce the penalty to $0 effective immediately.
The mandate would eventually be replaced by a “continuous coverage incentive” that would provide for a 30% surcharge for late enrollees in the individual market. Basically, anyone with a coverage gap of 63 days or more in the previous 12 months would pay 30% more for the next 12 months, giving individuals an incentive to purchase and maintain health insurance.
The Senate is still working on its version of the bill, and while there were multiple reports that they were going to start over from scratch, we really don’t know what the bill will look like since it’s being crafted in private, hidden from the public and even from Democratic lawmakers. As the New York Times puts it, “they are coming up with the legislation behind closed doors without holding hearings, without consulting lawmakers who disagree with them and without engaging in any meaningful public debate.”
Whatever emerges out of the Senate, we still don’t know what, if anything, will end up happening. In the end, the House and Senate must agree and vote on a single version of the bill to send to the President’s desk, and right now there’s still a lot of disagreement. Top that with the fact that President Trump is now saying that the House version of the bill is “mean,” and we really don’t know what to expect.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) has introduced legislation that would expand the use of Health Savings Accounts. Current law only allows HSAs to be purchased for high-deductible health plans, and contributions are restricted to levels that are often substantially lower than deductibles. The Health Savings Act of 2014 (H.R. 4777) would ensure HSAs may be used more broadly, thereby increasing patient choice in how their health care dollars are spent.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was approved in 2008, requires insurers to provide mental health care that is comparable to or better than physical health coverage. However, only 4% of people surveyed recently by the American Psychological Association said they knew of the law, the same percentage as in 2010.Employee Benefit News (5/21)