When healthcare legislation was moving through Congress, SBE Council pointed out that regulations and restrictions in the measure threaten a range of plans on the market, including health savings accounts (HSAs) and others that don't meet standards established by the federal government. Now that the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the law of the land, over a million workers risk losing health insurance as early as this September unless Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen Sebelius65 former governors, mayors back bipartisan infrastructure deal Fauci: 'Horrifying' to hear CPAC crowd cheering anti-vaccination remarks The Memo: Biden and Democrats face dilemma on vaccine mandates MORE steps in to salvage their coverage.
Under the annual dollar limit provisions of PPACA governing group plans (taking effect for plan years beginning Sept. 23, 2010), "Limited Benefit Medical" health plans will not meet the new standards established by the law. (Beginning in 2014, annual dollar limits are fully prohibited under the new health care law.) Except for action by the HHS secretary to make exception for these plans or clarify the law, 1.4 million workers may be without their "mini-med" plans.
Our group, as well as other business associations, sent written communication to the HHS requesting guidance on this critical issue. Our members have a sense of urgency in preserving coverage for their employees. As I noted in my letter on May 28: "Small to mid-size employers use these affordable plans for full or part-time hourly employees, those who work on a seasonal basis or may be fulfilling a waiting period for an employer's regular health plan. While termed 'limited,' such benefit plans are coveted by those who use them because they affordably cover most medical issues. They serve an important purpose in the market, and without these plans many workers would not have access to health coverage."
Healthcare reform was supposed to be about covering more people. HHS must act quickly to preserve health coverage for 1.4 million workers. It would be ironic indeed if these workers lose health insurance as a result of a law that was intended to provide coverage to more Americans. But that will be the outcome if Secretary Sebelius does not act.