Employer advocacy group supports Chronic Disease Management Act

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A national association representing large employers submitted a letter of support Friday for a new bill that would increase the efficacy and usage of health savings accounts.

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) — a national association that advocates for large employers on health, retirement and compensation public policies — said it applauded the Chronic Disease Management Act and the efforts of Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) for working to bring HSAs, which were introduced in 2003, up to speed with the current healthcare climate.

The bipartisan bill, which was introduced on Feb. 8, expands the definition of a dependent and opens up its use to domestic partners and adult children. It also amends the IRS code to provide health savings account eligible high-deductible health plans the flexibility to cover services and drugs used to treat chronic diseases before meeting the plan deductible, according to the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design.

“By allowing plan sponsors to cover a limited but critical set of medical needs prior to the patient hitting their plan deductible, this bill will greatly improve the ability of employers to keep beneficiaries healthy and to rein in costs,” writes James Gelfand, ERIC’s senior vice president of health policy, in the letter. “The legislation will allow plan sponsors to integrate value-driven insurance design into HSAs and HDHPs, while maintaining the beneficiary shared responsibility that HDHPs are built upon.”

Gelfand estimates that the bill, which tweaks HSA rules to be inclusive of changes to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, will affect 20 million Americans.

“There are tweaks we can do to make your lives better,” he says, noting that HSAs do not cover gym classes or membership fees for primary care physician groups.

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