PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

U.S. House Vote Expected this Week on Democrat Bill to Eliminate Affordable Health Coverage

By at 13 May, 2019, 6:08 pm

SMALL BUSINESS INSIDER

Consumers need affordable, flexible health coverage options that encourage startup activity, and allow people to seamlessly transition in and out of the workforce when needed. One-size-fits-all coverage does not work for our modern, mobile workforce.

By Karen Kerrigan-

Opponents and political opportunists call them “junk” health insurance plans, but that flawed and careless description is far from the reality for people who need simple, affordable coverage during critical transition periods. The Trump Administration enacted rules in August 2018 extending the period of time that people can access “short-term, limited duration” plans while at the same time improving consumer transparency about what the plans cover.

These regulatory improvements – both transparency and allowing people to hold onto this coverage for transition periods that go beyond the three-month limit imposed by Obamacare – are under attack in Congress.

The U.S. House will vote on a package of health care bills (the “Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act”) later this week, which includes H.R. 1010, a bill that would eliminate the positive changes to this transitional coverage.

As we all know, one-size-fits-all policies are never, ever good for small businesses or for our diverse economy and citizenry. Short-term health plans are filling a critical need in the marketplace, such as when individuals experience life altering events such as starting a business, temporarily leaving the workforce to care for a family member or partner, or testing career options through “gig” work. The original three-month restriction on these plans limited their practical use by many Americans who need this type of bridge coverage. The regulatory improvements to the plans were a welcome and needed policy solution.

Last week, SBE Council joined coalition allies and signed a letter to all members of the U.S. House, urging the preservation of this affordable health coverage option. We urged opposition to H.R. 1010, which would repeal the Department of Labor (DOL) rule that made short-term, limited duration health plans a more practical option for American families, workers and entrepreneurs.  H.R. 1010 would prevent the DOL from taking “any action to implement, enforce, or otherwise give effect to the rule” and stop the federal government from promulgating a similar rule. Again, it is expected that the House will vote on the bill this week.

Taking away this short-term coverage option would lead to more uninsured Americans.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study found 500,000 people will go uninsured if the DOL rule is reversed. The CBO also estimates another 500,000 would be forced to purchase non-group coverage at Affordable Care Act prices (read: more expensive health insurance). Millions of Americans remain uninsured following the passage of Obamacare because health coverage is too costly and choices are more limited. Short-term plans are an affordable option that many Americans need.

Many more people are cycling between full-time jobs and “gig” work, and transitional health plans help fill the potential gap in health coverage at a reasonable cost.  Our regulatory system must take into account how people currently work, how they want to work if they have major life changes, or if want to open a business.

It is forecasted that by 2027, more than half of the workforce will have been or will be independent contractors. In 2017, 57.3 million Americans (36% of the workforce) did freelancing work. Sometimes these turn into full-time businesses and other times freelancers cycle back into full-time jobs.

Policies that make health coverage plans more practical, flexible, accessible and affordable make sense for our modern, mobile economy. This is something every member of Congress needs to support.

Read SBE Council’s 2018 agenda for Health Care Affordability and Innovation here.

Related Content:

Not What Entrepreneurs Want for National Small Business Week: U.S. House Bill Eliminates an Affordable Health Coverage Option, Press Release, May 8, 2019.

Transitional Health Coverage is Critical for New Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses, Small Business Insider blog post, April 30, 2019.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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