As we start the new year and welcome in a new Administration and Congress, it’s very clear that the consequences of COVID-19 are still being felt by American workers across the country. Our economy is struggling. Businesses are still grappling with adjusting their operations. And while the American people are hopeful with vaccines being rolled out, they are still taking significant precautionary measures. Needless to say, the new Administration and Congress have a lot on their plate.
Among those items, Congress will need to focus on strengthening and reinforcing the health coverage, which millions of American families depend on.
The vital nature of employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) has never been more clear. For the more 180 million Americans and their families who depend on this important program, their benefits are a lifeline to preventative services, tailored benefits and coverage for essential care. We can’t lose sight of the fact that a stable, reliable ESI market is the foundation for a strong national response in support of our public health.
To strengthen ESI moving forward amid the COVID-19 public health emergency, Congress should take action on common-sense, bipartisan proposals that will ensure Americans continue to benefit from the stability and support of this important program, including:
- Eliminate regulatory barriers preventing patients from choosing lower-cost coverage based on value. For these same patients, Congress should ensure individuals can benefit from these savings by putting tax-free dollars into a health savings account for future use;
- Permanently remove barriers for healthcare providers wishing to offer telehealth services to their patients. This will ensure continued access to care beyond the COVID-19 pandemic without burdensome wait times, emergency visits and risk of exposure;
- Codify and improve the past Administration’s Health Reimbursement Arrangement rule. This will pave the way for employees to maintain health coverage tax free if they lose or change jobs and allow employers to offer this benefit to employees; and
- Permit Association Health Plans. This will help ensure small businesses can provide their employees with savings and high-quality benefits that meet their needs by allowing access to the same benefits received by large employers.
The current ESI system is working and will continue to improve with the support of Congress. We urge policymakers to not lose sight of the important benefits ESI provides for millions of hardworking Americans and the nation’s healthcare system.