News Column

Health Subcommittee Discusses Legislative Proposals to Prevent Insurance Company Bailouts, Protect Against Further Health Plan Cancellations

July 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, July 28 -- The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health issued following news release:

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), today held a hearing to review legislative solutions to protect Americans from the president's broken health care law.

"Today's hearing is once again about protecting taxpayers and consumers from the consequences of the Affordable Care Act, namely an unlawful giveaway of taxpayer dollars to insurers under the ACA and another round of plan cancellations in the group market," commented Pitts.

"This law has already disrupted the health care peace of mind of millions of Americans. Americans are rightfully concerned that this administration thinks it can simply ignore its own law," added full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

Subcommittee members discussed two bills introduced by committee members Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to protect taxpayers from an illegal bailout to insurance companies: H.R. 4406, the Taxpayer Bailout Protection Act, and H.R. 5175, the Stop Illegal Payments to Health Insurers Act.

"There are two questions at work: does the law allow the administration to cover insurance company loses and are taxpayers going to have to foot the bill. Taxpayers need to be protected from more bailouts and we need to ensure that the sdministration is following the letter of the law. I thank Dr. Cassidy for working hard to protect taxpayers and small businesses from a potential financial liability," said Lance.

Ed Haislmaier, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, explained the concerns surrounding the health law's risk corridor program. "Given the uncertainty that insurers faced in pricing the new coverage, combined with pressure on them from the administration to keep premiums low, the risk corridor program is more likely to result in additional federal outlays than in additional federal receipts. This is the source of the concern expressed in Congress and elsewhere that the risk corridor program could become a taxpayer funded bailout for insurers selling coverage in the exchanges."

Subcommittee members also reviewed H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act, authored by Dr. Cassidy. The bill would allow health plans available on the group market in 2013 to continue to be offered.

"The president and congressional Democrats promised many times during the debate of the health care law that 'if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.' Yet this past year, 93,000 Louisianans in the individual market lost the plan they had, specifically because of Obamacare. Clearly the president's promise was inaccurate," commented Cassidy.

Stan Veuger, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, explained that the broken promise that earned President Obama the "Lie of the Year" in 2013, was not confined to the individual market. The law's supporters spent fall 2013 arguing that "only 5 percent" of Americans faced the prospect of plan cancellations, but Veuger explained that millions of Americans who purchase health insurance on the group market could also face plan cancellations or major changes to their health care plans. "These plans cover some 25-30 million workers in the small-group market, about 75 percent of medium-sized firms (100-499 workers), which employ some 20 million workers, as well as about 20 percent of large firms (over 500 workers), which account for millions more."

Last year, Upton championed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which was approved by the full House of Representatives by a vote of 261 to 157. The Keep Your Health Plan Act was designed to allow plans available on the individual market in 2013 to be available in 2014.

"The House must now act to provide the same relief to businesses and their employees by passing my bill, the Employee Health Care Protection Act, which would allow the millions of workers in the group market to keep the health plan they like," added Cassidy.

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Source: Targeted News Service

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