There are a number of legislative items we’d like you to know about…
On the TAHU Legislative call hosted by Jessica Watts, the first topic was the push by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to move the employer mandate from 50 up to 100 FTE’s. NAHU has ask for feedback from it’s members on the positive/negative impact this would have on the small group market. Further discussion was had on the topic of the pending Cadillac Tax set to take effect in 2018. This is a 40% excise tax that will be assessed on “high-end” health plans whose premiums exceed certain premium thresholds for individuals and families. In anticipation of this looming tax, Congress is asking for comments on how to interpret certain provisions of the law.
On the state level, Lee Manross briefed those on the call about an Operation Shout going out for help getting the Telemedicine Bill into a committee hearing.
The Region VI Legislative call was facilitated by Marcy Buckner. Highlights of this call included the passage of the Medicare “Doc Fix” bill which is a permanent solution to the SGR rather than just a patch as we have seen in the past. The passage of this bill will stave off a 21% cut to doctor reimbursement and provide incremental payment increases of 0.5% to doctors over the next 5 years as we transition into a payment system based on quality, value, and outcomes.
The call then shifted to legislation introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wi.) to allow subsidies to continue until Aug 2017 in the event the SCOTUS ruling, expected in June, strikes them down. Most feel the Aug 2017 date was strategically chosen to allow subsidies to continue until after the next presidential election.
Finally, Dale along with FWAHU past presidents Beth Christensen and Audra Sullivan, had a face to face meeting with Rep. Joe Barton. The objective of this meeting was two-fold: Get him to sign the Carney/Benishek letter, and get his support for HR 815 aka “The Broker Bill”. In spite of the passionate pleas from all three of the FWAHU members for his endorsement on both issues, he was not receptive to doing anything to improve a bill (the ACA) he is staunchly opposed to.
In a subsequent email from NAHU VP of Congressional Affairs John Greene, Rep. Joe Barton did decide to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 815. Credit both the local and national influence of NAHU for gaining the support from a well-respected and influential law-maker.
As always, please keep an eye out for important announcements regarding legislative issues and NAHU/TAHU Operation Shouts!