Today, the House is considering positive legislation allowing small employers the flexibility to offer pretax dollars to help pay premiums and/or other out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care and services. The Small Business Health Care Relief Act (H.R. 5447), sponsored by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), allows employers with fewer than 50 employees to provide Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to employees with health insurance.
Effective July 1, 2015, an IRS guidance placed a $100-per-day, per-employee penalty for employers that fail to offer a group health plan but provide tax-preferred dollars through an HRA for their workers to pay health insurance premiums or other direct medical expenses. The Small Business Health Care Relief Act allows small businesses—that are not required by the Affordable Care Act to provide health insurance—to provide some assistance to their employees and provide these HRAs. This simple, logical and bipartisan change will increase coverage, improve flexibility and promote wellness for manufacturers and other small employers.
The NAM recently signed onto a letter encouraging passage of this legislation in the House, and we urge action in the Senate.
Nearly half of all Americans receive health insurance benefits from an employer. And manufacturers in particular take great pride in offering health coverage to their employees—ninety-seven percent of NAM members provide health insurance to their workers and families. It’s not only a matter of doing the right thing; it’s also about keeping employees healthy and productive in a globally competitive economy. Furthermore, employees are grateful for the benefits provided to them. A 2015 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study found that only 9 percent of employees were unsatisfied with their health care plans.
Since World War II, employers have been actively engaged in providing health care to their employees. First as basic coverage, but today that has grown into coverage for vison and dental plans, wellness and even on-site clinics. Despite the mandates, additional regulation and taxes imposed on employers as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), manufacturers are proud to provide health care, and many work against the odds to continue to do so. Read More
Last week, National Association of Manufacturers’ Robyn Boerstling sat down to talk RealClearHealth’s Karl Eisenhower about manufacturers’ needs and concerns with healthcare. Boerstling, highlighted in the video below, addresses the changing environment and employers need to “band together” by sharing data and experiences. She also describes changes to the ACA manufacturers would like to see in 2016 and discusses the opportunities for reform in the first 100 days of a new administration.
Yesterday, Robyn Boerstling, vice president of infrastructure, innovation and human resources policy for the National Association of Manufacturers, recently sat down with RealClearHealth’s Karl Eisenhower to talk about key health care issues facing manufacturers. In a two-part video series, this clips highlights manufacturers’ concerns about the “Cadillac” tax, rising health care costs and how the Affordable Care Act impacts manufacturers.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and the NAM team stopped in Philadelphia, Pa., on the fourth day of the State of Manufacturing Tour. On a day focused on innovation and changing perceptions on manufacturing, Timmons gave his address at the state-of-the-art GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) facility in Philadelphia.
At the event, co-hosted by The Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) and GSK, health care and innovation were at the center of the conversation. Timmons was joined by David N. Taylor, PMA president, and Jack Bailey, GSK president of U.S. pharmaceuticals, two manufacturing champions.
Highlights from the address on health care:
“It’s an issue that has become so riven by political discord, we are losing sight of our end goal…giving workers and families affordable access to high-quality health care to keep them well. This is something the NAM cares deeply about. NAM members offer employee health insurance coverage at a higher rate than other industries. In fact, 97 percent of companies supply it. Now part of the challenge is making sure we prescribe the right medicine for health care. Here at GlaxoSmithKline, you understand matching the intervention to the patient. When treatments rely on our own genes to spark the right immunological response…well, it doesn’t get more individualized than that. Personalized treatment is the trend in medicine. On the policy front, however, there’s some movement in the opposite direction—away from the individually tailored and toward the one size fits all.”
Highlights from the address on innovation:
“Manufacturers account for more than three-fourths of private-sector R&D. We’ve been awarded more patents than any other industry. To secure our competititiveness, we must respond with a policy environment designed to attract and retain investment…and with strong protections of intellectual property.
“We must be vigilant and push back on aggressive state legislatures that want to require pharmaceutical manufacturers to turn over and reveal highly sensitive operational information—such as pricing on specific products, marketing costs, research investments and funding streams that support new product development. It’s a misguided effort that will sap innovation, and it’s of great concern. No manufacturer should have to provide an unprecedented view of proprietary operations or its most sensitive information.
“Manufacturers will not accept this, nor will we sit quietly. Intellectual property rights must also be a central issue in trade agreements. As we work to open new markets, we cannot allow our hard-won innovations to be appropriated by our competitors. And as we champion the Internet of Things, we’ll need to modernize our communications laws to fit this new era and find new ways for ensuring our cybersecurity.”
Timmons and the team also toured the Philadelphia Distillery and spoke with employees about the challenges of being a small manufacturer and what they want to see from Washington.
Highlights from the tour:
U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, who represents Pennslyvania’s 7th District, sent us a video since he is in Washington, D.C., for votes and work. Rep. Meehan discusses how manufacturers in Pennsylvania are thriving.
“If you feel like the health-care debate has grown stale, know you’re not alone. Despite the many presidential candidates vying to lead this nation, we are hearing little new on the topic. Vitriol and political discord continue to bar us from identifying solutions to control costs, fuel innovation, preserve the employer-based health-care system and take care of workers and their families.
“This matters to Pennsylvania, where health care is an issue not just for families but also for manufacturing. As a home to many pharmaceutical leaders and medical-technology innovators, the Keystone State is on the leading edge of medical manufacturing.”
We came to Philadelphia with big expectations, and the City of Brotherly Love did not disappoint. Check out the highlights from our social media efforts and don’t forget to follow @shopfloorNAM on Twitter and Shopfloor on Facebook for the latest updates from the road.
Don’t forget ShopFloor is on Instagram with daily updates from the NAM’s Erin Streeter. Follow us @shopfloorNAM.
And the NAM is on Vine with a behind-the-scenes look at the tour.
Want to keep in touch with the NAM as we continue on the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter @shopfloorNAM and online at www.nam.org/stateofmfg and share your tweets and pics with #StateofMFG and #WeAreMFG.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been writing about measures in several states that are looking to impose greater reporting burdens on one particular segment of the manufacturing sector in the name of greater transparency. One provision of the so-called transparency measures being debated in several state houses around the country would require manufacturers of medicines to report the prices they charge in other countries for their products. While on the surface this may seem like a useful exercise, in reality, it is completely irrelevant to consumers. The price of medicine in one country or another should have no more bearing on what the price should be in the United States than a similar comparison of the price of ball bearings in Bangladesh or Boston. The point is, they are completely different markets, and countries often differ dramatically in their approach to the delivery of health care to the degree that any comparison is meaningless.
This week, three House committees will each take up portions of a reconciliation bill that repeal elements of the Affordable Care Act that are in their respective jurisdictions. Components the House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Workforce Committees are including in the package would repeal the Employee Benefits Tax, the Medical Device Tax, Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), automatic enrollment, and the Employer Mandate. The bills are expected to pass out of the three committees primarily on party-line votes, but there may be a smattering of Democratic support for individual components such as IPAB repeal which was supported by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in the Ways and Means Committee, but that will not translate into support for the broader package expected to be on the floor of the House. Read More
For those of us in the healthcare policy field in Washington it has become as ritualistic as the changing of the seasons, the anticipation of the Masters Tournament in April or opening day in Major League Baseball – it’s known as “The Doc Fix.” For over a decade now, Congress has gone through the process of staving off reductions in payments to physicians under the Medicare program. Unfortunately, each year it does so, it gets more expensive to fix it permanently. It’s officially known as the sustainable growth rate (SGR) and the only thing sustainable about the growth rate in this instance is the frustration level most Members of Congress feel about having to go through this rite of passage every year or two. So, it is with great expectation and hope among many in Washington that we find ourselves nearing an agreement on a permanent solution to the madness we put ourselves through with too much regularity. Read More
Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program for America’s seniors, is a unique success story in how a government program can work effectively by harnessing the efficiencies and strengths of our private sector. Reformative in its approach, the program relies on the private sector to negotiate prices, set premiums and compete for customers on a level playing field.
Unfortunately, there are some in Congress who are pushing proposals that will undermine this popular program. With a 90 percent satisfaction rate among beneficiaries and a programmatic budget 40 percent below cost estimates, where is the wisdom in tinkering with it?
The “Super Committee” is tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in savings and one of the ideas is to impose new “rebates” on the manufacturers of the medicines low-income seniors use in the program. The justification requires a short history lesson.
Under the old system, some beneficiaries received their medicines through Medicaid because they were considered low-income first and seniors second. Under Medicaid, companies have to provide a rebate to the program for the volume of medicines used by its beneficiaries. Under the new Part D program, we treat seniors as seniors first and low-income second. The rebates previously siphoned off to the government have actually gone into discounts to the Part D plans making the program stronger and less expensive for beneficiaries. This is one of the many reasons the program is successful and highly popular among beneficiaries. Read More
Leaders of the Start Over! Coalition, including the National Association of Manufacturers, wrote Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to express support for her amendment (S.Amdt.197) to the pending small business bill, S. 493, that would suspend further implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As you know, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now the subject of considerable litigation before the Federal courts. To date, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, ruling in Virginia v. Sebelius, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, ruling in Florida et al v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have ruled the “individual mandate” in the ACA unconstitutional, and the latter went on to rule that the “individual mandate” is not severable from the rest of the ACA thus voiding the entire statute. Three other Federal district courts in the District of Columbia, Michigan and Virginia have upheld the constitutionality of the ACA. It is a virtual certainty that the constitutional issues in controversy in the ACA will ultimately be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The timing and outcome of the legal process in this matter is speculative at best. What is currently certain, however, is that the Federal government is continuing to implement the ACA at considerable cost to the taxpayers. If the Northern District of Florida court’s decision is upheld, State governments which have proceeded with implementation facing considerable risks if they do not do so, will have needlessly expended considerable sums of their taxpayers’ money. It is no small matter that employers find themselves similarly and expensively caught between a judicial ruling that invalidates the ACA and an Administration in Washington, DC that insists on plowing ahead with implementation as though this matter had never arisen.
Under the present circumstances we believe it is simply prudent to impose a moratorium on further implementation of the ACA until such time as the pending litigation is brought to its conclusion. This is exactly what the Hutchison Amendment would accomplish.