GOP senators propose bill to protect self-insurance health plans

Tom House Contributor
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Republican senators introduced a new bill Wednesday that will protect the right of employers to provide self-insurance plans to employees.

The Self-Insurance Protection Act (SIPA) — proposed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell along with Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander from Tennessee, Jim Risch from Idaho and Marco Rubio from Florida — would preserve the ability of small- and mid-sized businesses to pay employee health-care costs directly.

The bill is intended to counter the Obama administration hints at dramatically altering “stop-loss insurance” — insurance that protects companies from serious financial damage caused by oversized medical claims. Republicans worry that the administration wants to end stop-loss insurance as a way to push more Americans into the Obamacare exchanges.

“Millions of Americans are living with the consequences of the President’s broken promises on Obamacare,” McConnell said in a statement. “In their zeal to defend their failing bureaucracy, the Obama administration must not break its promises to the millions of Americans who work at businesses that self-insure by preventing them from keeping the coverage they have and like.”

Republican Sens. John Boozman from Arkansas, John Barrasso from Wyoming, Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, John Cornyn from Texas, Mike Crapo from Idaho and Mike Enzi from Wyoming have also co-sponsored the bill.

Senate Republican leaders argue that self-insurance provides employers with the flexibility to customize their employee health benefits to best meet their specific needs while also helping to control costs. Employers can more directly manage benefits such as wellness programs that save money and make people healthier.

“For millions of employees in small and mid-sized businesses, keeping the health insurance they’re happy with means keeping their self-insurance health plans,” Rubio said in the statement. “Unfortunately, the President could end up breaking his promise to these employees by ending these self-insurance plans and forcing these employees to find new ones.”

“Small and mid-sized employers should have the freedom to continue offering their employees the self-insurance health plans they are happy with. That’s all this bill does,” continued Rubio.

Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, noted that changing the rules on companies that self-insure “will break the president’s promise to millions more hardworking Americans. No matter if they like their employer’s health care plans, many won’t be able to keep them.”

“President Obama promised the American people time and time again that if they liked their current health insurance plan they could keep it,” Jim Risch said. “That promise was false; the proposal greatly changes millions of middle class Americans’ plans.”

“This legislation preserves small employers’ and individuals’ ability to make their own insurance choices, allowing them to keep their important stop loss coverage,” Risch said.

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