Vice President, Health Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
January 30, 2017
On January 11, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue shared his optimism about the new administration’s and new congress’s commitments to enacting major reforms to transform our economy, including an opportunity to further reform our health care system. This opportunity is exciting and grave at the same time. The Chamber is and will continue to share our priorities with lawmakers and the agencies as we strengthen our health care system for all Americans. We remain focused on promoting and advancing thoughtful legislative and regulatory changes to improve health, reduce unnecessary costs, and reward providers delivering high-value care.
Over the past seven years, businesses – employers, employees and their families – have struggled to implement and comply with many onerous and costly mandates imposed by the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”). While some elements of the ACA have been repealed and modified, many significant burdens remain which drive up the cost of doing business and health insurance premiums while limiting options, reducing choices and restricting flexibility in health care coverage. Now we have a tremendous opportunity to expand options, improve choice and expand flexibility in health care coverage in a meaningful and thoughtful way.
However, even before the ACA – our health care system was far from perfect. Provisions in the ACA took steps to provide critical protections to vulnerable individuals. As efforts to rebuild our health care system evolve, lawmakers are expressing commitments to similar priorities that the Chamber shares. Our health care system must continue to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions. Additionally, young adults should be allowed to remain on their parent’s health insurance plan and access to preventive health care services should be encouraged and prioritized.
To that end, the Chamber has long championed the invaluable benefits that the employer-sponsored health care system provides to both employees and employers alike. More than 177 million Americans currently rely on the health coverage and benefits offered by employers. The employer-sponsored system must be permitted to allow employers to customize the benefits offered to best serve the needs of their workforce and appropriately manage cost growth in health care.
So how do we propose to achieve this? Well, it’s complicated but here are a few elements that are critical components to address immediately:
- Repeal taxes that drive up the cost of health care including the health insurance tax, the medical device tax and the “cadillac tax.”
- Provide relief to employers and employees alike by repealing the prescriptive one size fits all employer mandate and the burdensome reporting requirements that come with it.
- ;Enforce contractual promises (i.e. cost sharing reductions and reinsurance payments) to allow health plans to offer coverage during the transition period as the ACA is repealed.
- Verify circumstances of individuals requesting special enrollment periods in health insurance
- Roll back payment cuts to health care providers
Rebuilding our health care system is going to take some time. First, we urge Congress to take important preliminary steps to stabilize insurance premiums and provide immediate relief for businesses, individuals and providers by repealing elements of the ACA in the coming weeks. Second, we pledge to help the administration revise regulations and ease compliance burdens and confusion. Third, we stand ready to share our recommendations for replacing many of the flawed provisions of the ACA with solutions that will expand choice, reduce unnecessary costs and improve our health care system for individuals, families and employers.
We can generate more growth and jobs by making America’s health care system the best in the world, and we look forward to working with the new administration on this important effort.