Republicans Seek Small Business Insurance Coverage Clarification
Three House Republicans have sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seeking her assurance that small businesses in all states will not be forced to purchase health insurance from the insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, Modern Healthcare reports.
The request comes after officials in Vermont and the District of Columbia established rules requiring their residents and small businesses to purchase health coverage only through their exchanges.
The three lawmakers are:
- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.);
- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chair of the panel's Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs; and
- Rep. James Lankford (R-Ohio), chair of the panel's Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements.
The lawmakers also asked officials in Vermont and D.C. for information about their insurance coverage requirements and requested that responses from HHS and the local officials be submitted by July 12. One letter was sent to Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson and another letter was sent to D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority Executive Director Mila Kofman (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 7/1).
According to the Washington Times' "Inside Politics," D.C. officials have said the District's exchange would be more viable if companies with fewer than 50 workers are required to purchase coverage through the marketplace, while Vermont officials cited the state Chamber of Commerce's argument that the state's exchange simply is "an option for business" (Howell, "Inside Politics," Washington Times, 7/1).
In their letter to Sebelius, the lawmakers wrote that the coverage requirements "violate the principle of voluntary participation in exchanges that was codified in [the ACA]. They noted that Sebelius previously "reaffirmed" the principle in her guidelines on participation in the ACA's Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP (Modern Healthcare, 7/1).
The letter requests that Sebelius should, "at a minimum," use her authority "to ensure that all exchanges comply with the provisions in [the ACA] that ensure that individuals and employers have the freedom to enter into contracts outside of a regulated government-created bureaucracy" ("Inside Politics," Washington Times, 7/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.