Now that the GOP has pulled its latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, groups that represent employee benefit brokers plan to continue working toward their longstanding goals of repealing the ACA’s Cadillac tax and increasing access to health savings accounts.
While “it is too early to predict what’s next,” Wyatt Stewart, senior director of federal government affairs at the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, says he hopes for the full repeal of the Cadillac tax.
“Protecting the employer-sponsored healthcare system and repealing the Cadillac tax remain top priorities for the Big “I,”” he says. “The Cadillac tax will not only hit many of our small business members and their clients starting in 2020, but over time will impact more and more individuals because the tax threshold is tied to a very slow measure of inflation.
“This snowball effect will do irreparable damage to the employee benefits marketplace,” he adds.
At Health Agents for America, Ronnell Nolan, the group’s CEO, says her organization is also working with her partners on Capitol Hill for repeal of the Cadillac tax, but it is not a top priority, given it has been delayed until 2020. “It will continue to be kicked down the road,” adds Michael Keegan, consultant to HAFA.
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has not waivered on it priorities in the months since President Donald Trump took office and the GOP began its repeal and replace strategy on health reform. NAIFA’s key focus is on ending the “continual reduction in compensation to the agent,” says Diane Boyle, senior vice president of government relations.
“That was something that couldn’t be addressed in [the Senate’s reconciliation process], so as we look to efforts that will be bi-partisan, we hope [that] will be addressed,” she says.
NAIFA also plans to push for increased use of HSAs — which was a hallmark of the failed Graham-Cassidy bill.
The expansion of HSAs is a good idea, HAFA’s Nolan agrees, because it gives more choice to employees. But, she warns, HSAs do not fit every employee, especially those lower paid who don’t have the money to set aside.
As the GOP shifts to tax reform, Boyle is hopeful that changes to shore up the ACA may still happen. “That is going to take some time,” she cautions. “You are going to have to allow the wounds to heal.”
The National Association of Health Underwriters also believes a bi-partisan fix bill may be possible. Marcy Buckner, the group’s vice president of government affairs, says that NAHU has always worked on a bi-partisan level and has been meeting with Congressional leadership since the election.
She believes there may be a coming together of the parties, with groups like NAHU assisting to bridge the gaps.
“We can get to the numbers we need,” she explains, in reference to finding both Democratic and Republican members of Congress willing to pass legislation that both helps brokers and fixes the ACA. She plans to do that by working with moderate wings of both parties to reach common ground.
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