U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), a member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, last week participated in two days of committee markup hearings on 11 health care bills and helped pass two pieces of bipartisan legislation he introduced.
Among the 11 bills passed by the committee on July 11-12 was the Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act of 2018, H.R. 6305, which Rep. Kelly introduced on July 3 to expand Americans’ access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and the Employer Relief Act of 2018, H.R. 4616, for which the congressman was the sole original cosponsor upon its introduction in December 2017 by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
“H.R. 6305 gives employers more flexibility to offer quality health care in the setting best for them, like on-site or retail clinics,” said Rep. Kelly in a July 13 statement. “Employers around our country are offering innovative ways to deliver health care to their associates, and this provision makes sure that individuals with HSAs can utilize these same services.”
Additionally, he pointed out, H.R. 6305 would fix the HSA spouse penalty by allowing individuals to make HSA contributions if a spouse has a Flexible Spending Account, but preventing double-dipping in tax benefits. The bill also would streamline the conversion of other tax-preferred accounts to HSAs, thereby making it easier for Americans to save money for health care services.
“Ultimately, this bill modernizes health care delivery and gives employers the freedom to innovate and improve their employees’ health insurance,” Rep. Kelly said. “We are trying to improve health care for all Americans. This means giving consumers a choice in their health care. This means incentivizing wellness and exercise, not sickness. This means giving employers the freedom to design insurance products that work best for their associates.”
In thanking U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the original cosponsor of H.R. 6305, Congressman Kelly called the issue “extremely important for the 175 million people who get their health insurance from their employer,” and urged fast action by congressional members toward making H.R. 6305 a federal law.
Nearly 30 conservative leaders agree. In a July 11 open letter sent to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, the leaders wrote in support of the committee’s legislative efforts to expand HSAs, including Rep. Kelly’s bill.
“Since they were created almost 15 years ago, HSAs have proven successful in promoting healthcare choice, lowering taxes and lowering healthcare costs. Expanding HSAs will build on this success,” according to the letter, which was signed by the leaders of groups including Americans for Tax Reform, the HSA Coalition, Americans for Prosperity, the Campaign for Liberty, the 60 Plus Association, the Goldwater Institute, Health Freedom Hub, the National Taxpayers Union, Hispanic Leadership Fund, and the Independent Women’s Forum, among others.
Another Kelly bill passes
The House Ways and Means Committee also approved H.R. 4616, which would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to provide for a temporary moratorium on the employer mandate and to provide for a delay in the implementation of the excise tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored health coverage, according to the congressional record.
Rep. Kelly noted that the employer mandate on small businesses having more than 50 employees costs them millions of dollars in unnecessary administrative compliance and reporting.
If enacted, H.R. 4616 would provide three years of retroactive relief and one year of prospective relief from the employer mandate provision within Obamacare, paired with a one-year extended delay of the law’s so-called Cadillac Tax on high-value health care plans.
“Mr. Nunes and I introduced this bill to give relief to Americans and employers struggling under Obamacare,” said Rep. Kelly during the Ways and Means Committee markup on H.R. 4616, which would delay the Cadillac Tax for one additional year, until 2023.
“We have discussed the Cadillac Tax at length in this committee and how it is a misguided policy in Obamacare,” said the congressman, adding that H.R. 4616 “is good progress, but we cannot lose sight of the goal: the full repeal of the Cadillac Tax.”
Ending the tax, which Rep. Kelly said “continues to hang over the head of the 175 million Americans who receive health insurance through their employer,” is actually an issue that he thinks unites House Republicans and Democrats, as evidenced by support for the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017, H.R. 173, which Rep. Kelly introduced on Jan. 3, 2017.
H.R. 173 currently has 297 co-sponsors, giving the measure a veto-proof majority, according to his office. The bipartisan H.R. 173, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), is under consideration by the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.
Rep. Kelly also said during the markup hearing that H.R. 4616 would provide relief to “employers crushed under the employer mandate” by ending “another misguided policy in Obamacare that the Obama administration never enforced.”
“Let’s not lose sight of repealing all of Obamacare’s misguided taxes on hard-working Americans,” the congressman reminded his colleagues.