January 07, 2022
The first order of business when Congress returns will be to reach a compromise with Senator Manchin on the Build Back Better Act (BBB) that includes several significant health care provisions for employers. Congress will also work on bipartisan behavioral health legislation and the GOP will be preparing their 2023 reform agenda. The S in ESG (i.e., the human impact of business activities) is also likely to include how employers are improving workers’ mental health and wellbeing.
Build Back Better outlook: Democrats are under tremendous pressure to pass some form of the BBB Act, Senate and House leadership staff have indicated to us that Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ) do not have major concerns with the health care provisions, increasing the likelihood they will be included. However, the Senate parliamentarian’s rulings in the coming weeks could significantly change the health care provisions in ways that could negatively impact employer plans. The current drug pricing provisions could save employers $92 to $111 billion over 10 years. More detail on the rest of the provisions is here.
Behavioral health issues in focus: The Senate Finance Committee aims to introduce bipartisan legislation addressing behavioral health care issues and both chambers will continue to work on expanding and extending telehealth benefits. In October 2021, the American Health Policy Institute submitted recommendations to the Senate for improving behavioral health services and will continue to work with Congress on this important CHRO priority. The entities that are developing ESG reporting frameworks, including the World Economic Forum, the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, are also looking at formalizing guidance around disclosures related to mental health and worker wellbeing because it may be financially material to the sustainability of a business.
House GOP Health Care Task Force: Republicans will be finalizing their post-midterm reform agenda. It will include increasing health care choices, lowering the cost of health services, providing a strong safety net for the most vulnerable Americans, and protecting access to care for all Americans. The American Health Policy Institute has been discussing employer issues with Task Force members and will be submitting formal recommendations in early 2022.
Expansive new reporting requirements for employer plans: A new Interim Final Rule (IFR) on prescription drug and health care spending transparency will require employers to renegotiate their third-party administrator contracts to ensure their health plans meet the rule’s extra reporting requirements must be filed December 27, 2022 (more info here).
Biden regulatory agenda: The Biden administration has several rulemakings planned that will significantly impact employer plans, including: final surprise medical billing and transparency rules, new rules regarding mental health parity, and provider nondiscrimination rules for employer plans.