By Lauren Bikoff, MLS
The American Benefits Council has provided the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with recommendations on how to control rising health care costs. Senate HELP Committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) had issued a call for specific recommendations to reduce the growing burden of health care costs on "taxpayers, employers and family budgets." "Health care costs not only represent the most serious threat to employer-sponsored benefits, but to American competitiveness itself," said American Benefits Council President James Klein in remarks to the Senate HELP committee.
The American Benefits Council provided the following recommendations:
- Increase employers’ access to health data. Most employers that have had success decreasing the rate of health care spending have started by taking deep dives into their data, the letter noted.
- Identify and use uniform quality measures. As more large employers implement innovative payment reforms, such as direct contracting or creating accountable care organizations, a uniform set of standardized quality measures is important.
- Take the "surprise" out of "surprise" billing. The Council believes that policymakers should prohibit balance-billing patients for emergency services provided by an out-of-network provider, or for non-emergency treatment by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.
- Reduce incentives for provider consolidation. Provider competition benefits consumers and employer plan sponsors. The Medicare program should expand implementation of site-neutral payment reform in order to decrease incentives for consolidation of health care providers.
- Modernize health savings accounts (HSAs). HSAs have been used to help make health coverage more affordable by encouraging consumers to use high-quality, cost effective providers, said the letter.
- Address low-value, harmful care. Congress should encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to use existing authorities to stop paying for care that unequivocally does more harm than good.
- Protect the favorable tax-treatment of employer-provided health benefits. According to the Council, the current tax treatment of employer-sponsored health benefits is a great bargain to U.S. taxpayers. For every dollar of "foregone" tax revenue, employers spend over four dollars to provide vital health care protection to workers and their families. of health care. That is one reason the Council recommends fully and immediately repealing the 40 percent Cadillac tax on employer-provided health coverage.
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