Senate Republicans look to protect companies that self insure

A group of Senate Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), introduced legislation Wednesday that would protect businesses that self-insure their employees. 

The Republicans argue the Obama administration has “signaled interest” in changing the rules on how those companies cover the cost of large medical bills when self insuring their workers. 

Some companies cover the cost of healthcare for their workers rather than helping to offset the premiums of employee health plans. Smaller businesses that self-insure employees also buy “stop loss” insurance that protects against huge medical bills from piling up. 

The bill aims to make sure “stop loss” insurance is allowed to continue as normal. If not, Republicans say, some workers would be forced onto the newly created healthcare exchanges. 

Nine other Republicans signed onto the measure: Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

"Any effort by the Obama administration to change the rules on companies that self-insure will break the president's promise to millions more hardworking Americans,” said Alexander, who is the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. 

“No matter if they like their employer's health care plans, many won't be able to keep them."

Self-insurance is used by the majority of large-scale companies and less popular among smaller businesses, which tend to need “stop loss” insurance. 

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced a similar bill in the House last week. It would “clarify existing law to ensure that federal regulators cannot re-define stop-loss insurance as traditional ‘health insurance.’ ”

Cassidy clarified that no rule making process has yet been announced by the Obama administration to redefine it.