On Tuesday (9/25/18), 19 staffers from ECFC member companies converged on Washington DC for a Day of Advocacy on Capitol Hill. Guided by members of the Mehlman Castagnetti public affairs team, they formed five groups and conducted 27 meetings, mostly with members of the Senate Finance Committee, including Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch's office. Feedback from the meetings was positive with reports of affirmative interactions in both Republican and Democratic offices as ECFC shared new data concerning the prevalence of consumer-directed health (CDH) accounts with congressional staffers. The data indicated that there are now approximately 162.7 million Americans who benefit from CDH accounts which include HSAs, FSAs, and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). ECFC noted that many more employers are moving toward higher deductible health plans or plans that increase the amount of cost sharing borne by employees. Consequently, CDH accounts are increasing in their importance to American workers and their families. A key message delivered on Capitol Hill by ECFC was that these tools provide a means of budgeting for increased out-of-pocket healthcare costs and help many Americans pay for critical healthcare procedures that they may otherwise forgo. Policy recommendations made by ECFC during the visits included:
Don't penalize individual contributions to health-based accounts.The Excise Tax on high-cost employer-based health plans must be repealed entirely, and if that is not possible, individuals' contributions to FSA and HSA accounts should not be included in the calculation of Excise Tax thresholds.
Increase the availability and use of health-based accounts to empower families to afford their healthcare needs.ECFC urged members of the Senate to take up bipartisan legislation passed by the House in July that would benefit CDH accounts.
Support and enhance FSAs.ECFC supports the passage of H.R. 1204, the "Responsible Additions and Increases to Sustain Employee Health Benefits Act of 2017," which specifically would increase the annual limit on salary reduction contributions to $5,000, with an additional $500 for each additional employee dependent above two dependents and allow for carry forward into the next year for unused accounts.
ECFC will be watching for opportunities this fall to have these recommendations included in legislation as it emerges.