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TAHU Legislation Gets Boost From Top Washington Regulator

Secretary of HHS letter to Governors

Austin,Texas (PR MediaRelease) March 29, 2017

A legislative proposal that will benefit Texas employers got a big boost from the Trump Administration recently when U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price told governors they should move forward and request waivers from a variety of regulations in the Affordable Care Act.

Texas legislators will get a chance to help Texas employers exactly like that on a proposal by the Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) that follows HHS Secretary’s suggestions for Texas to pursue a waiver that will remove an onerous requirement that small group employers have to face.

“We are excited to see this positive indication from the federal regulators because using the federal waiver process is exactly what our bill does,” said Cheryl Clark of Lubbock, president of TAHU, a statewide association of health insurance and employee benefits professionals.

The TAHU bill, House Bill 1635 and Senate Bill 1406, directs the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to undertake the administrative process necessary to request a waiver from the ACA from the actuarial value requirement in the way employer-sponsored group health plans are designed.

TAHU leader Clark said the regulation had no basis in the law itself, was completely arbitrary, and had no financial, mathematical or actuarial reason to exist.

TAHU has encouraged Gov. Greg Abbott to endorse its legislative proposals specifically and the use of these waivers generally, according to Clark.

“We know the Governor supports business and employers and we will welcome his vocal support of our legislation. We hope he will come out strongly and four-square behind our bill to get TDI moving on the paperwork,” the TAHU president added.

The waiver TAHU wants the federal government to grant will relieve small group health insurers from having to redesign, reprice and then have agents resell a plan to employers every year or two, because of natural changes within every plan of health care costs and utilization. Clark said it was unrealistic to require a static formula to be met each year when there were so many moving parts internally to a plan. Yet that is what the “de minimis” part of the actuarial value requirement did, she added.

“Employers want benefits that offer stability and consumer familiarity. This waiver process will give Texas employers and their employees that opportunity.

Attachment: Secretary Price’s letter to the governors.

Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) is a statewide membership association representing licensed health insurance agents, brokers, consultants and benefit professionals who serve the health insurance needs of employers and individual consumers seeking health insurance. TAHU is a state affiliate of the National Association of Health Underwriters.

Melissa Perryman

TAHU State Media Chair

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