By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
A group of 62 employer coalitions have sent a letter urging Congress to take action on a suite of bipartisan, moderate, deficit-reducing provisions that would lower health care costs for patients, improve transparency, and eliminate certain egregious practices in the health care system before the 116th Congress. Among the groups are the American Benefits Council, the Business Group on Health, the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), the HR Policy Association, and Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc.
“These provisions passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee last year, by a mammoth vote of 20-to-3. Next, they were agreed to by the Committees of Jurisdiction in the House,” said James Gelfand, senior vice president at ERIC. “Now Congress needs to finish the job—before they go on vacation, and before the 116th Congress ends. Otherwise, the process would have to start over completely.”
The employer group letter discussed provisions contained in the Lower Health Care Costs Act (S. 1985). While the bill’s policy would end the current surprise medical billing crisis, employers also strongly support other provisions in the bill, including:
- limited, targeted reforms to reduce drug costs without threatening innovation;
- leveraging information technology to improve health care; and
- provisions to promote transparency, fairness, and competition in the health care system, such as: eliminating “gag clauses” and ensuring employers can access their own health care claims data, banning abusive hospital contracting schemes, creating a transparent database for health care claims data, and more.
“The time to act is now. This is not controversial; it’s common sense,” said Gelfand. “Employers pay the vast majority of health care costs on behalf of employees and their families. We want to continue to do so, but we need help from Congress to ensure that the deck is not stacked against us. These provisions will help ensure transparency, accountability, and value for patients. They should be included in an end-of-the-year package, whether that is a government funding bill, a COVID relief package, a bill to extend expiring health and tax provisions, or any other legislation headed to the President’s desk. We cannot accept any more excuses.”
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