By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service
WASHINGTON (Nov. 25, 2013) — Legislation introduced in the Senate last week would bar federal regulators from issuing rules giving a partial exemption from a reinsurance fee established by the healthcare reform law.
The fee—initially $63 per healthcare plan participant as authorized under the Transitional Reinsurance Program—is intended to generate $25 billion in revenue over three years. The fee, imposed on all group healthcare plan sponsors, including self-funded employers, is to be used to partially reimburse commercial insurers that cover individuals with high healthcare costs.
The Department of Health and Human Services said last month that it would propose an exemption from the fee that begins in 2014 for "certain self-insured, self-administered plans."
The proposal would exempt self-insured and self-administered plans from paying the fee in 2015 and 2016, though they still would have to pay it in 2014.
However, the Senate bill, S. 1724, introduced last week would bar any special exemptions, which co-sponsor Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said would be geared to big union healthcare plans.
"Since the overwhelming majority of self-administered health insurance plans are run by unions, let's call this what it is: a political payback by the administration to its union friends for backing this disastrous (healthcare) law. But the fact is, the White House doesn't have the authority to change the law on its own and, as this bill makes clear, any attempt at a big labor carve out from Obamacare must be approved by Congress," Sen. Hatch said in a statement.
Legislation, H.R. 3489, introduced in the House this month would repeal the fee entirely.
The House measure has 13 co-sponsors from both parties. The Senate bill has 12 co-sponsors, all Republicans.
This report appeared in Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.