Congress Takes Key Step To Protect Employees And Small Businesses

posted by Jamie Carracher

on September 28, 2015

Progress is being made in an effort to preserve access to affordable coverage and care for 3.4 million workers and their families.

The House is scheduled today to vote on the PACE Act. AHIP President and CEO Marilyn Tavenner recently urged policymakers to support this legislation, which restores the traditional definition of the small group market and provides states with greater flexibility to address the cost.

That’s because expanding the current small group definition to include mid-size companies could have far-reaching implications. For example, the owner of one construction company in Virginia said his company will have to “step down” its level of coverage for employees to comply with the expanded small-group definition.

The PACE Act lets states “weigh which is the better way to go for them so they can hopefully keep the insurance costs down and also make sure that everybody else gets their coverage with the least amount of sticker shock,” Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) said in July.

Policy makers, employers, business organizations and more have all weighed in on the importance of rolling back the expansion of the small-group market. During a recent hearing, Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) and Brett Guthrie (R-K.Y.) urged legislative initiatives to move forward. Rep. Pitts stated that, “Unless this current law is reversed, the disruption in the marketplace will be significant…Ultimately, cost increases for small employers will change their choices regarding offering coverage, could change their business model, and will ultimately be felt by millions of workers.” Rep Guthrie added that, “Not only would these hard-working employees no longer be able to keep their current coverage, but the new plans they would be offered are likely to be significantly more expensive.”

The business community also has shown strong support for the PACE Act. For example, The 50-100 Coalition, which includes organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Home Builders, wrote in an open letter to members of the House.

“As employer organizations representing the interests of millions of businesses of every size, sector, and region, we write to urge your swift action to pass the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employers (PACE) Act (H.R. 1624). This legislation would allow states to keep the current definition of a small group market as 50 and fewer employees, or expand the group size if the market conditions necessitate the change. Removing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) mandated expansion and returning to the historical role of state determination would mitigate dramatic premium increases and allow small employers to keep their health plans.”

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