House Committee Passes 11 Health Care Bills Dealing with Consumer-Directed Health Plans, the ‘Cadillac Tax’ and the ACA’s Employer Mandate Penalty

 

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Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee passed 11 health care bills that, if enacted, will affect future employer-sponsored benefit offerings. SHRM supports most of the bills, specifically those related to consumer-directed health plans, a delay to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "Cadillac tax" and a moratorium of the employer mandate penalty. The bills will now be packaged to go before the full House of Representatives for a vote before the House leaves for August recess, which is scheduled to begin July 27. 

The bills passed by the House Ways and Means Committee of primary interest to employer-sponsored benefits and the HR profession include:

  • H.R. 6301, the Promoting High-Value Health Care Through Flexibility for High-Deductible Health Plans Act, expands access and enhances the utility of health savings accounts (HSAs) by allowing for first-dollar coverage of services for chronic care and disease management programs. 
  • H.R. 6305, the Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act, allows onsite employee clinics and retail clinics to provide "qualified items and services" without disqualifying an otherwise eligible individual from making HSA contributions and also states that an individual will be eligible to contribute to an HSA if the individual's spouse has a flexible spending arrangement (FSA), only if the spouse's FSA cannot reimburse that individual's medical expenses. This bill also allows FSAs and HRAs to fund an individual's HSA under certain situations.
  • H.R. 6199, the Restoring Access to Medication Act, allows FSAs, health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and HSAs to reimburse for over-the-counter drugs and adds feminine products to the list of qualified medical expenses for the purposes of these tax-favored health accounts.
  • H.R. 6312, the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, allows consumers to use up to $1,000 in pretax health accounts to purchase gym memberships, fitness classes or exercise safety equipment.
  • H.R. 4616, the Employer Relief Act, would retroactively repeal the employer mandate penalty that most employers offer health insurance coverage to employees for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and delays the Cadillac tax to the year 2023. 

Proposals to modernize HSA rules and to further delay the Cadillac tax is widely supported by SHRM and the employer community. Prior to the committee's vote on the bills, the National Coalition on Benefits, of which SHRM is a leader, sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., and Ranking Member Richard Neal, D-Mass., on the legislation. 

These proposed changes to consumer-directed health accounts and a further delay of the Cadillac tax will provide employers with greater flexibility to design benefit offerings to meet the needs of their employees and their families. 

According to a SHRM's 2017 Strategic Benefits survey on job satisfaction and engagement, the majority (92%) of employees indicated that benefits are important to their overall job satisfaction. Further demonstrating the importance of benefits, results also showed a relationship between benefits satisfaction and retention, with 29% of employees citing their overall benefits package as a top reason to look for a position outside of their current organization in the next 12 months; 32% of employees who were unlikely to look for an external position cited their overall benefits package as a top reason as well. With the low unemployment rate across the country, organizations must engage in strategic benefits planning to attract the best and the brightest.  

The House chamber could take up the bills as early as next week. SHRM will send a letter to House and Senate leadership encouraging their support for these proposals ahead of a scheduled vote. Stay tuned to future HR Issues Update for developments. 

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