On October 29, the Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled their long-awaited fix for the nation’s health care delivery system. The bill, entitled the “Affordable Health Care for America Act” (H.R. 3962), includes many provisions of interest to HR professionals.
House Speaker Pelosi (center), Majority Leader Hoyer (left) and House Whip Clyburn (right)
The $894 Billion cost of the legislation is to be paid for with new revenue from a 5.4 percent surtax on high-income Americans with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $1 million, and from an excise tax on medical devices sold in the United States.
Two provisions of special interest to HR professionals include:
- A mandate on employers to provide and pay for health care insurance for their employees – or pay a fine of 8 percent of payroll costs; and
- A pre-tax limit of $2,500 on employee contributions to flexible spending accounts, and language prohibiting purchases of over-the-counter drugs through FSAs and HRAs, not just HSAs. This is significant because many employees use FSA funds for over-the-counter medications.
SHRM’s Government Relations team is currently reviewing the neatly 2,000-page bill for other provisions of interest to the HR community. We will be reporting back to SHRM members next week. In the meantime:
- To review a four-page summary of the bill, click HERE.
- To review a summary of the provisions of the bill that impact employers, click HERE.
- To view the text of the legislation, click HERE.
The Senate version of health care reform legislation could be announced as early as next week. However, the Senate timetable depends greatly on how successful Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is in convincing Senate proponents of reform to embrace his adoption of an “opt-out” public health option.