Pending and forthcoming legislation in Washington, D.C., promises to impact the benefit industry and employers in several ways, so it’s good to have friends on the Hill. Here are 10 broker-friendly legislators who have sponsored/cosponsored important legislation, belong to congressional caucuses that support the industry, and/or have personal experience with the industry, including serving as a benefit adviser.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Senator Cassidy in June introduced the Equalizing the Playing Field for Agents and Brokers Act (S. 1653), legislation that would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide benefit brokers and agents the same information about enrollment on the federal exchange it provides to navigators and assisters, including webinars and newsletters. It would also mandate CMS provide benefit brokers and agents a 1-800 number to call when they need assistance with the federal marketplace and make agent and broker contact information as easy to access for individuals enrolling via Healthcare.gov, as is the information for navigators and assisters.
Sen. Collins is chair of the Special Committee on Aging and in January introduced the Retirement Security Act of 2015, which would raise caps on employer retirement plan matches and make it easier for small businesses to join multiple-employer plans. Also in January, Collins introduced legislation that would amend the definition of a full-time employee under the ACA to an employee who works an average of 40 hours per week. Shes been named Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Collins is also a member of the Senate HELP committee.
Sen. Donnelly has a history of working across the aisle on issues of concern for employers and advisers. He supported the elimination of the ACA 1099 reporting requirement; and in January, with Sen. Collins, introduced the Forty is Full Time Act, which would change the definition of full-time employee in the ACA from someone who works 30 hours a week to someone who works 40 hours a week. Senators Collins and Donnelly also asked the Obama Administration for transition relief for small businesses in June 2013.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Hatch is the chair of the Senate Finance Committee and has a substantial history of involvement with retirement savings and health care related legislation. In January, he introduced the Jobs and Premium Protection Act (S. 183), a bill to repeal a provision of the ACA that imposes an annual fee on a health insurance provider based on its net premium income. Americas Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) President and CEO Karen Ignagni hailed the bills introduction, saying, Repealing the health insurance tax is a practical solution that would help millions of Americans.
In June, Isakson introduced the Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2015 (S. 1661), which amends the Public Health Service Act to exclude remuneration paid for licensed independent insurance producers from administrative costs for purposes of calculating the medical loss ratio of a health insurance plan.
Murkowski is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and has voted to repeal several provisions of the ACA troubling to employers and advisers. She is a co-sponsor of the Jobs and Premium Act and supports a movement to change the definition of a full-time employee as considered under the ACA from one who works 30 hours a week, to one who works 40.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)
The freshman Senator from Michigan supports bipartisan efforts to fix the ACA to make health care reform work better for Michiganders and our small businesses. Peters served in the House of Representatives from 2009 to 2014, where he sponsored legislation such as the Small Business Health Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
Rounds is the junior Senator from South Dakota, where he served as the states governor from 2003-2011. In the private sector, Rounds helped build the insurance and real estate firm Fischer, Rounds & Associates. The agency is a member of the Best Practices Study Group formed by The Big I. The association initiated the study group in 1993 as part of its efforts to improve agency performance. Rounds is a co-sponsor of the Jobs and Premium Act.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Sen. Scotts Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (PACE) was signed into law by President Obama in October. The law amends the ACA to provide states with flexibility in determining the size of employers in the small group market. Its passage through Congress was applauded by many in the benefits industry, including Charles Symington, Big I senior vice president for external and government affairs. Enactment of this legislation is vital to keeping small to mid-size businesses from seeing significant premium increases and appropriately gives states the authority to determine the small group market definition in the future, he said..
Scott is also a co-sponsor of the Small Business Health Relief Act of 2015 (S. 254), which repeals provisions of the ACA that limit the annual deductible on health plans offered in the small group market, deem catastrophic plans to meet essential health benefits coverage requirements for certain individuals, and impose an annual fee on health insurance entities.
In 2012, Sen. Toomey helped write and enact the bipartisan JOBS Act, which cuts regulatory burdens on the small and medium-sized businesses benefit advisers work with. He spearheaded a bipartisan effort to exempt volunteer firefighters and first responders from the ACAs employer mandate. He is also a co-sponsor of the Jobs and Premium Act.