SHRM urges Congress to strengthen employer-based healthcare

While Congress takes the first steps toward repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, the largest HR group in the country has a message for lawmakers: Protect employer-based healthcare.

The Society for Human Resource Management sent a letter to Congress following the Senate vote on the 2017 budget resolution, urging the House to maintain the flexibility and affordability that employer plans have under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

“There are currently over 175 million Americans who receive healthcare coverage through their employer,” Michael P. Aitken, SHRM’s vice president of government affairs, wrote last week. “Because more than half of all Americans get coverage at work, SHRM believes reconciliation legislation must strengthen the employer-based healthcare system.”

The letter was sent after the Senate passed a budget resolution that took the first steps toward ACA repeal. The resolution sets up a reserve fund for future healthcare legislation under an upcoming ACA replacement bill, based on savings to be derived from the repeal of the law.

Specifically, SHRM urged representatives to “eliminate coverage requirements on employer-sponsored plans to ensure employers have the flexibility to design benefit plans that meet the unique needs of varying workforces” and “allow employers to adopt innovative strategies to improve health benefit offerings to lower overall U.S. healthcare costs.”

Finally, SHRM advocated for a repeal of the ACA’s Cadillac tax. Industry insiders predict that the unpopular tax — a 40% excise tax on employer plans exceeding $10,200 in premiums per year for individuals and $27,500 for families — will be one of the first targets of the Trump administration.

Similarly, earlier this month, the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) — a national association that advocates for large employers on health, retirement and compensation public policies — sent a letter publicly supporting Cadillac tax repeal.

“Taxing employer-sponsored health insurance benefits would inevitably lead to worse health insurance for those who are offered plans, and [also would lead to] more employers declining to offer health benefits,” James Gelfand, ERIC’s senior vice president of health policy, wrote.

The tax is currently delayed until 2020.

See also: Employer advocacy group urges Cadillac tax repeal

“SHRM looks forward to working with Congress to enact responsible and effective healthcare reforms as outlined above,” Aitken wrote.

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