House Passes Legislation to Prevent Premium Increases for Mid-Size Employers
October 1, 2015 11:12 AM
The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, September 28, unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), to maintain the existing definition of the small group market under the Affordable Care Act. H.R. 1624, the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act had a total of 236 bipartisan cosponsors. The legislation addresses concerns that expanding the small group market to employers with 51-100 employees—which is currently scheduled to occur on January 1, 2016—would result in premium increases for mid-size employers. Instead, the bill would maintain the existing definition of the small group market, which only applies to employers with 50 or fewer employees.
Similar legislation (S. 1099) has been introduced, but not yet passed, in the U.S. Senate (see previous NAHC Report article here). The Senate bill also has received strong bipartisan support, with 46 cosponsors. The Congressional Budget Office has reportedly estimated that the bill would save $400 million over 10 years. The legislation could keep premiums from rising for home health and hospice agencies with 51-100 employees that offer health insurance.
The four original bipartisan co-sponsors released statements praising the House’s passage of the bill. “Today the House acted to prevent dramatic rate hikes and the anticipated loss of coverage for millions of hard working Americans,” said Congressman Guthrie, Vice Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. “I’ve heard from small business owners across Kentucky who are worried about being able to comply with the new regulations and afford the changes in health care plan costs. Today we are one step closer to a permanent legislative solution, and I’m hopeful the Senate will act quickly so we can deliver some certainty to business owners and their employees.”
While Congressman Cárdenas said he was “grateful for all the benefits that the Affordable Care Act has provided since its implementation began,” he stated that “no law is perfect.” He said the PACE Act “is a commonsense fix to a major problem.”
The PACE Act will “protect America’s workers from the premium hikes that will likely result from the law’s disruptive change to small group markets,” Congressman Mullin said. He urged the Senate “to follow suit and pass this bill that protects hardworking Americans and job creators while respecting states’ rights to determine their small group markets.”
“When I talk to families and employers in Arizona about health care, the concern I hear most is increasing cost,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “This bipartisan solution keeps costs down and lets hardworking Arizonans keep their healthcare. I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to provide relief for Arizona workers and employers and protect access to quality affordable health care.”
NAHC Reportwill continue to provide updates regarding the status of the legislation in the Senate.