Legislation introduced by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to maintain the definition of the small group market under Obamacare was unanimously passed in the House today. H.R. 1624, the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act will protect smaller employers from increased regulations and allow those employees to keep their current health insurance plans.
The small group market is currently defined as 1-50 employees. Without action, that definition is set to expand to 1-100 employees on Jan. 1, 2016. If it were to take effect, employers with 51-100 employees would not be able to keep their current health care plans or purchase or renew plans that do not conform to the new, more onerous, regulations. By being subject to the new mandates, it is anticipated that health care plan rates will dramatically increase.
H.R. 1624 prevents these catastrophic scenarios by allowing states to decide to maintain the definition of the small group markets as employers with 1-50 employees.
“Today, the House acted to prevent dramatic rate hikes and the anticipated loss of coverage for millions of hard working Americans,” said Guthrie, Vice Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee. “I’ve heard from small business owners across Kentucky who are worried about being able to comply with the new regulations and afford the changes in health care plan costs. Today, we are one step closer to a permanent legislative solution, and I’m hopeful the Senate will act quickly, so we can deliver some certainty to business owners and their employees.”
“As a former small business owner, I recognize the struggle there is to provide for the American dream for our employees,” said Cárdenas. “I know how difficult it can be when a specific sector of small business is affected by bills and laws created by local, State, and Federal governments. I am grateful for all the benefits that the Affordable Care Act has provided since its implementation began, however, no law is perfect. This law is a commonsense fix to a major problem. I appreciate the committee’s willingness to advance the PACE Act, and continuing to build a great track record of working successfully in a bipartisan fashion.”
“We must protect America’s workers from the premium hikes that will likely result from the law’s disruptive change to small group markets,” said Mullin. “With today’s vote, it is clear that a broad bipartisan number of lawmakers from across the country agree. I urge the Senate to follow suit and pass this bill that protects hardworking Americans and job creators while respecting states’ rights to determine their small group markets.”
“When I talk to families and employers in Arizona about health care, the concern I hear most is increasing cost,” said Sinema. “This bipartisan solution keeps costs down and lets hardworking Arizonans keep their healthcare. I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to provide relief for Arizona workers and employers and protect access to quality affordable health care.”