Pitts: “Unless this current law is reversed… more than 3 million employees will experience a double-digit percent increase in their health care premiums.”
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today held a hearing to review H.R. 1624, the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act, authored by Subcommittee Vice Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY). This bipartisan legislation has more than 200 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and strong support in the Senate.
Speaking in support of the bill, Guthrie commented, “On January 1, 2016, the definition of the small group market is set to change and with that millions of employers will see dramatic changes to their insurance coverage. Employers with 51-100 employees will suddenly be thrust into a new insurance category with dramatically different mandates and benefit requirements, and would not be able to continue to offer their current plans. 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.”
Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) added, “Unless this current law is reversed, the disruption in the marketplace will be significant. For example, it is estimated that under current law, more than 3 million employees will experience a double-digit percent increase in their health care premiums. 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.”
Kurt Giesa, a partner with Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting summarized a recent analysis, testifying, “Roughly two-thirds (64%) of members in mid-sized groups would receive a premium increase in 2016 as a result of changes in rating rules and expanding the market, with these groups receiving an 18% increase on average. We expect that many of the groups receiving such sizeable increases would elect to drop their health insurance coverage and either self-fund or not offer any coverage at all.”
Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen explained, “The NAIC has endorsed the PACE Act because it would retain state flexibility to set the appropriate limits for the small group health insurance market and ensure stable small group markets that reflect the unique characteristics and dynamics at play in each of the states. If this legislation is not signed into law, a series of market disruptions could occur.”
Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) summarized the positive impact this bill will have, stating, “According to nonpartisan analysis, enactment of H.R. 1624 would yield notably lower premiums than currently projected, encourage continued health coverage, discourage employers from dropping coverage, and help encourage market stabilization. Under this bill, businesses and their employees will be able to keep their current health care plans and avoid higher premiums for coverage with more prescriptive benefit mandates and rating restrictions.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), a cosponsor of the PACE Act, today wrote in the Oklahoman, “As a business owner, I want to provide good health insurance because it helps my company attract and retain the best employees. Obamacare makes this very hard. Additional costs from the law and its mandates are passed on to consumers or absorbed by making cuts to our workforce or employees’ hours.”
Watch the complete hearing and read witness testimony online HERE.