On the Federal front there are still some initiatives NAHU is trying to push. The hope is that these may get through at the end of the year but only time will tell. While much of the emphasis is on the impeachment process, there is still some legislation that is trying to be passed.
I signed onto two stakeholder letters as both the WNCAHU and State Federal L&L Chair. One was to encourage passage to repeal the Cadillac Tax (part of fight the 40 group). According to NAHU, we are the closest we have ever been to getting this accomplished with 63 Senate cosponsors. The other letter was the Employer Reporting bill that would make larger group (50+) reporting prospective versus retrospective.
The HIT Tax will be back January 1, 2020 which has already been calculated in the rates for this coming year. At this time, NAHU is hoping for a 2-year delay as it is too late for a full repeal (which is our preferred option). We are hoping this will be included in the Continuing Resolution that is being worked on now in Congress. The current CR November 21. The Senate bill S. 172 has 36 cosponsors and H.R. 1398 has 157. I urge you to check these out and see if your representative has signed on as a cosponsor. If so, send them a note and thank them; if not, send them a note to consider supporting this legislation.
In further news, H.R. 3 (Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019), passed out of three committees. We are hoping for a December floor vote but we are still awaiting the CBO score. Theoretically, this bill could produce $300 Billion in savings over 10 years but the final score will tell the tale. It would allow the Secretary of HHS to negotiate prices on top 10 drugs, institute a national pricing index based on drug prices around the world. Once a number is produced by the government based on this international price index, it will become a take it or leave it. If Big PHARMA does not take it, they (the manufacturer) will be slapped with a 95% excise tax. As an organization, NAHU favors any measure that would decrease drug prices but we have remained generally neutral. Our aim is to be at the table before we decide on a firm position. Senat Finance is working on their own drug package including inflation caps on Medicare Part “D”.
Finally, there is surprise billing legislation in Congress. NAHU supports a benchmarking solution (based on geographic area) and not arbitration. Sen. Cassidy’s bill uses the latter, House energy & Commerce has their own bill that uses benchmarking but allows an option for arbitration if the bill exceeds $1,250. S.B. 1895 only has benchmarking. Studies show arbitration increase costs but this debate will likely continue into next year.
On a final note, Capitol Conference is around the corner. If you have not registered and would like to attend, go to the Capitol Conference website and save $100 before December 4th. Until next time, contact me with any questions or issues from you or any policyholders