June 25, 2015
For additional information:
Action still needed even with court's decision
Employer health plan sponsors urge Congress to amend PPACA, secure workers' well-being
WASHINGTON, DC "Given the Court's decision, Congress may believe there is no need to 'fix' the law. Now that matters are settled for six million people getting subsidies in the individual insurance market, however, it is time for Congress to address serious issues affecting over 150 million Americans covered by employer-sponsored plans," said American Benefits Council President James A. Klein, commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in King v. Burwell, upholding the availability of subsidies for people purchasing health coverage in federal exchanges.
"We caution Congress against concluding that it is 'business as usual' after this ruling and continuing partisan wrangling over the future of the Affordable Care Act. The long term fate of the law may be unclear, but employers are required to comply with it right now and several serious problems with the law need to be addressed," Klein said.
The Council recently unveiled a package of legislative recommendations for making the law less onerous for employer health plan sponsors. Some of these proposals enjoy bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Needed changes to the law include:
- End the 40 Percent Tax on health benefits (the so-called "Cadillac tax"), which is already threatening health plans, whether rich or not, and pushing employers to take dramatic measures to avoid the tax.
- Expand Health Reimbursement Arrangements to allow employers to fund an account that employees could use to purchase individual coverage inside or outside the exchanges.
- Simplify the significant new and complex employer reporting requirements to the Internal Revenue Service.
- Modify the employer "Shared Responsibility" requirement to relieve some administrative costs and burdens on employers that create disincentives for employing "full-time employees" as defined by the law.
- Improve Health Savings Accounts, including clarification that certain prescription drugs are preventive care that may be covered before an employee has satisfied his or her deductible, and clarification that employers may provide care at on-site medical clinics free of charge without first requiring an employee to meet his or her deductible.
- Repeal the requirement that employers automatically enroll new full-time employees in health plans, which is unnecessary since virtually everyone is legally required to have coverage and which, ironically, can have adverse consequences on employees' eligibility for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.
"Regardless of particular long-term objectives concerning the health law, it is in the interests of both political parties to fix serious problems now. Congress should follow its recent bipartisan model of the 'doc fix' legislation and seize the opportunity to make the law work for employers and individuals," Klein said.
For more information, or to schedule an individual interview with Council staff, contact Jessica Chirico at email@example.com or by phone at 202-289-6700.
The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.