Senate Panel Explores Future of Employer Sponsored Health Coverage

October 22, 2021

HR Policy and the American Health Policy Institute urged the Senate Finance Committee to preserve the employer-based health system as the panel held a hearing largely focusing on increasing federal funding to expand access to public programs.  Meanwhile, a new CBO report estimates the budget reconciliation bill will reduce employer coverage by 2.8 million workers.

Our comments urged Congress to follow four key principles when considering health care reforms to address coverage issues: 

  • Preserve employer-sponsored health coverage,
  • Foster innovation,
  • Increase transparency, and
  • Drive quality improvement.

Finance Committee Chair Sen. Wyden (D-OR) argued additional ACA subsidies are a crucial step in expanding affordable coverage.  Other Democratic priorities in the reconciliation bill included expanding Medicaid coverage, creating a public option plan, and enhancing Medicare benefits.

Sen. Crapo (R-ID) highlighted the impact of employers in developing innovative approaches to providing health benefits, often serving as a blueprint to the public insurance system.  Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) focused on the importance of increasing access while ensuring public programs continue to be solvent, citing the Medicare Trustees report that the Medicare Trust Fund will be depleted by 2026.

The House budget reconciliation bill will reduce employer coverage by 2.8 million employees, according to a new CBO report, while increasing the number of Americans in federally subsidized coverage (Medicaid and ACA plans) by 7.6 million for a total cost of $553.2 billion over ten years.

Outlook:  Employer-sponsored health care is a critical pillar of the U.S. health system.  HR Policy will continue to advocate for reforms that reduce costs and expand affordable coverage in ways that strengthen and preserve employer provided health benefits.