Government

Congressman Fitzpatrick, Bipartisan House Group Lay Plan To Stabilize Health Insurance


Stethoscope on a printed sheet of paper

A bipartisan group of House of Representative members, including Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, has laid out a set of “principles aimed at stabilizing the health insurance markets and providing relief to individuals, families and small businesses.”

The five-point plan from the Problem Solver Caucus does not include repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but rather on stabilizing the  current system so problems can be addressed.

The plan from 44 Democrat and Republican representatives also would get rid of a tax on medical device manufactures and one on small businesses that do not offer health insurance to their employees.

“The Problem Solver Caucus is stepping up and starting that process by outlining ideas aimed at stabilizing the individual markets and helping the American people being harmed by our broken system. This isn’t the solution, but it’s a start to address the problems with the ACA,” Fitzpatrick said.

Below is a portion of the Problem Solvers Caucus proposal:

It is clear that the individual health insurance market is deteriorating in some areas of the country and we must act quickly to stabilize it. We all agree that the individual market needs restructuring, and we should swiftly implement changes in time to take effect for insurance plans offered for 2018. Committees of jurisdiction should begin to address the issue through regular order.

To stabilize the individual market and provide some immediate relief, we propose exploring realistic solutions including the following:

  1. Bring cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments under the Congressional oversight and appropriations process, but ensure they have mandatory funding. CSR payments are an important part of helping households earning between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level afford to participate in the individual market. Bringing CSR payments under the appropriations process ensures that Congress can provide proper oversight.

  2. Create a dedicated stability fund that states can use to reduce premiums and limit losses for providing coverage—especially for those with pre-existing conditions.

  3. Adjust the employer mandate by raising the threshold on the requirement for employers to provide insurance under the employer mandate to businesses of 500 employees or more. The current employer mandate places a regulatory burden on smaller employers and acts as a disincentive for many small businesses to grow past 50 employees. Additionally, the definition of “full time” under the employer mandate should indicate that a full-time work week is 40 hours.

  4. Repeal the medical device tax. This tax adds a 2.3% sales tax on medical device supplies. The costs of the tax are passed on to consumers and it should be repealed.

  5. Provide technical changes and clear guidelines for states that want to innovate on the exchange or enter into regional compacts to improve coverage and create more options for consumers. A. Section 1332 of the ACA allows states to innovate and share in health savings while offering strong plans with all essential health benefits. Some states have begun to experiment in this regard, with great potential for success. However, some technical legislative changes and/or revised HHS guidance may improve attractiveness to additional states.B. Similarly, Section 1333 of the ACA allows states to enter into Health Care Choice Compacts, which allow insurers to sell across state lines in participating states. However, HHS has not yet released regulations on Section 1333. HHS should issue clear guidelines and work with states to spur innovation and bring more choice and competition to the market while protecting consumers.

Members of the Problem Solver Caucus work jointly on proposals and agree to vote as a bloc.

Fitzpatrick, a moderate Republican who opposed his party’s controversial Obamacare replacement bill in spring, has met with medical professionals and locals to talk Obamacare and the future of health insurance. Since his campaign, the former FBI special agent and attorney has advocated for working to fix the current health care law.

In a county where about 24,000 residents are uninsured, a recent study by the Urban Institute estimated close to 48,000 Bucks Countians could lose coverage if an Obamacare replacement plan isn’t comparable.

Members of the Problem Solver Caucus plan to meet with constituents and stakeholders during the August work period.

Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the nonprofit Kaiser Foundation, told Vox.com that the plan from the Problem Solver Caucus would most likely bring down insurance costs and deductibles for those enrolled in Obamacare. It would also alleviate the threat of millions losing insurance due to the repeal of the current health care law.

“This is what you’d expect bipartisan health care reform to look like,” Levitt told the website.


About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation’s Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama’s visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he’s not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there’s one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: tom@newtownpanow.com Phone: 215-431-1001