NAHU staff continued our series of meetings this week with policymakers regarding the plans to use the budget reconciliation process next year to repeal certain provisions of the ACA. Our meetings with key staff at the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees were to review our primary concerns about the implications for employers and individuals if certain provisions of the ACA were to be repealed while other provisions remained in place, and the potential damaging effects that this could have to the various health insurance markets, plans, and pricing, as well as to offer our solutions for how health insurance can be reformed without harming consumers. As a reminder, if you have suggestions regarding our work with the Trump transition team and members of Congress on the future plans to reform the ACA that you would like to share with NAHU, you can send your thoughts and ideas to ACAreform@nahu.org.
This week, NAHU joined coalition efforts voicing our concerns over the forthcoming ACA repeal/replace process, including signing onto a letter urging Congress to support the employer exclusion of health insurance by not instituting a cap, while also calling for a full repeal of the Cadillac/excise tax. The letter notes that upwards of 177 million Americans receive their health insurance from the employer-based system and that taxing these benefits or capping the exclusion would raise out-of-pocket healthcare costs for employees and their families, increase the cost of providing health insurance for employers, potentially disrupt the basis of the employer-based system, and ultimately threaten the benefits that working families enjoy and want to keep. Many leading advocates in Congress have called for changes to the exclusion, which could help to offset the costs of repealing the ACA. NAHU has been a leading advocate of the employer exclusion and has led efforts to delay and repeal the Cadillac/excise tax and will continue to do so as Congress debates next steps in health reform.
Additionally, the Better Medicare Alliance sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence outlining the coalition’s policy priorities for the near future. The letter notes the strong growth in enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans and recommends that the incoming administration minimize disruption to beneficiaries, including those on Employer Group Welfare Plans (EGWP or “Egg Whip”), continuing the Medicare star rating program and increasing transparency through more publically available data. A similar letter was also sent to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-designee Tom Price, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator-designee Seema Verma, as well as Medicare-relevant committee members, committee staff and leadership.
Congress is currently adjourned from its 114th session and is scheduled to convene its 115th session on January 3. When Congress returns and begins deliberating strategies for moving legislation that would make significant changes to the ACA, NAHU will continue to work with policymakers in Congress to advocate on your behalf to make sure any changes that are made will not lead to adverse consequences for the stability of the health insurance markets or your clients.
We know many of you are planning to meet with your members of Congress while they are in their home districts in the coming weeks. Since a healthcare reform reconciliation bill is the most likely legislation to be introduced at the beginning of the year to address any changes in the health insurance market, we urge you to focus your discussions on what would be most useful budget relevant policies to be repealed through the reconciliation process. We have prepared some talking points to assist members in this effort. If you plan to meet with your member of Congress in the coming weeks, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may provide additional talking points as needed.