Problem Solvers Caucus offer bipartisan healthcare action items

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A group of 40 representatives from the House — 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans — are bridging the gap between the two parties to solve some of the major problems effecting America today, including healthcare.

Co-chairs Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), and Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), spoke to members of the National Association of Health Underwriters during their annual Capitol Conference in Washington, D.C., to explain how they have impacted healthcare legislation so far and what they plan to do going forward.

One of the first problems addressed by the caucus concerns the unburdening of small businesses. The plan would adjust the employer shared responsibility mandate provision in current law, raising the threshold requiring businesses to provide healthcare to their employees from 50 to 500 employees and changing the definition of a full-time employee to one working 40 hours per week, from the current 30.

This lifts a significant regulatory burden on businesses and eliminates the disincentive for businesses to grow beyond 50 employees, they say.

Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which removed the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act, Gottheimer says the caucus brainstormed a number of replacement legislation options, should the ACA be repealed.

“Initially, Tom and I decided we were not going to take on [the healthcare] issue; it was just too thorny,” Gottheimer said. “However, we got 80% of our caucus to agree on bipartisan measures which had significant impact on healthcare bills moving through the Senate.”

Those measures include the repeal of the 2.3% medical device tax, which they say passes the costs on to consumers, and giving flexibility to the states to make it easier to innovate and enter into compacts to allow the sale of insurance coverage across state lines.

“Because of what we did, I believe there is traction in the Senate and traction in the markets that we can eventually see a victory on,” Reed said.

Reed asked NAHU members to offer continued support by speaking to their representatives and sharing the knowledge they gain from their firms across the country. “Send the message that you want problem solvers going to Washington willing to lead by example,” Reed said. “Stand with candidates that we speak with and continue to cultivate to join the caucus and take our pledge to be bipartisan.”

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