Preserving the employer tax exclusion topped the list of the National Association of Health Underwriters’ legislative priorities as its members visit Congress during today’s NAHU Capital Conference.
In a briefing prior to the Congressional visits, NAHU’s government relations team outlined the association’s policy priorities. NAHU members aim to educate Congress on these priorities, as well as on the role of agents and brokers in serving the public.
The policy priorities discussed include:
* Preserve the employer tax exclusion. NAHU believes eliminating the tax exclusion would be detrimental to the stability of the employer-sponsored health insurance market and would hurt middle-class Americans. Workers benefit most from the tax exclusion because it allows their employers to pay for all or part of their health insurance without those payments being considered taxable compensation. Repealing or capping the exclusion would destabilize the risk profile in employer-sponsored plans for more than 175 million workers and their dependents.
* Oppose Medicare for All. Medicare for All would remove most Americans’ current coverage, NAHU said, including those who have employer-sponsored insurance and those who already are on Medicare. NAHU also believes the cost of Medicare for All is not sustainable. It is estimated at $32 trillion over 10 years, with an average tax increase of $24,000 per household, at a time when the financial viability of the current Medicare program already is in question.
* Employer affordability calculation. NAHU supports maintaining the current employer affordability calculation method under the Affordable Care Act. There are proposals to lower the employer affordability rate to 8.5% from its current rate of 9.6%. NAHU said lowering the affordability rate would increase the amount large employers are required to contribute to employer-sponsored plans at a time when many employers are struggling to maintain coverage for their workers. Decreasing the affordability calculation would threaten the stability of the employer-sponsored market, NAHU contends.
* Mental health parity. NAHU approves mental health parity but opposes penalties. The association believes access to mental health providers is critical, but proposals to implement financial penalties on employers for noncompliance with mental health parity would increase the cost of care while penalizing employers for network structures that are beyond their control. The penalties on employers would be passed on in the form of higher premiums. NAHU is urging Congress to allow the mental health parity requirements that were put in place under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to be implemented, studied and acted on to improve access to and affordability of mental health care, as well as to focus on the workforce shortage.
* Extend the employer retention tax credit from the CARES Act. The employer retention tax credit is a credit against certain employer taxes for eligible employers who were impacted by COVID-19. Many employers benefited from the employer retention tax credit by using those funds to maintain their employees on payroll while using the tax credit to continue to offer access to their group health plans.