Vote Explanation for H.R. 1304 — Self-Insurance Protection Act of 2017

Speaker Ryan and President Trump have failed to deliver on their promise to the American people that they would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in three phases. Thanks to the advocacy of millions of people across the country who did not want to lose the benefits of the ACA in order to give a tax cut to the wealthy, Ryan dropped his initial effort to take health care away.

Having failed in their first phase of repealing and replacing the ACA, Republicans have decided to skip to the third, passing additional health care legislation. For the second week in a row, however, they are touting a minor bill related to health care as major legislative reform our healthcare system. This week, it’s H.R. 1304, the Self-Insurance Protection Act of 2017. Here’s the background:

Employers who choose to provide health benefits to their employees through self-insured plans fund claims themselves, rather than through an insurance company. Self-insured employers sometimes purchase what is called “stop-loss insurance” in order to protect themselves from catastrophic losses or unusually large health costs for covered employees. Some states have chosen to regulate stop-loss insurance because the financial product can come with some risk. For example, stop-loss insurance is not guaranteed, so the insurer can refuse to cover the employer for suddenly high medical costs.

Seeing these trends, the Obama Administration considered federal regulation in the same vein as the states by treating stop-loss insurance like health insurance. The Obama Administration never took action on this issue. Nevertheless, H.R. 1304 would ensure stop-loss insurance is never regulated like health insurance in order to maintain flexibility in the market.

While this bill is unnecessary, I supported its passage because it maintains current federal standards related to stop-loss insurance and guarantees the ability of states to continue regulating the market.