House Moving Slowly On Health Care Reform

April 07, 2017

This week, the House passed by a bipartisan vote of 400 to 16 the Self-Insurance Protection Act (H.R. 1304), which would clarify that federal regulators cannot limit the use of "stop-loss" insurance by self-insured health plans.  Most self-insured employers purchase "stop-loss" insurance, a financial risk-management tool that protects self-insured employers from catastrophic claims expenses.  Although the federal government has never regulated stop-loss insurance, the Obama administration repeatedly signaled an interest in restricting access to stop-loss insurance by self-insured plans.  The bill would ensure future administrations could not limit this health care model.  According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN): "By protecting access to self-insurance, we can help ensure employers have the tools they need to control health care costs for working families."  The bill takes a small but bipartisan first step towards health care reform in this session of Congress.  Separately, the House Rules Committee adopted an amendment to the American Health Care Reform Act that would create a $15 billion risk sharing program, similar to the successful Maine program, to help states lower premiums for health coverage offered in the individual market.  The amendment is part of the ongoing GOP effort to reach consensus on the broader ACA “repeal and replace” bill that was pulled from the House floor on March 24th.  House GOP leaders touted the amendment as showing progress on health care reform and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told GOP members their April recess could be cut short if a deal is reached on the legislation, but divisions still remain between the moderate and conservative factions in the party.