ConnectYourCare joined fellow member organizations of the nonprofit Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) as they fanned out across Capitol Hill on March 7, to engage influential Congressional leaders on the importance of preserving and advancing employer-provided tax-advantaged benefits programs as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented. “In this unclear and unchartered road ahead, our goal is to work closely with key legislators to help set the new course for healthcare reform,” explains Dennis L. Triplett, ECFC Board Chair. “Together with our members, we want to demonstrate how our industry is a vital, influential, and beneficial part of the healthcare system.”
“As leaders in Washington shape the future of employee benefits plans, we wanted to give voice to businesses on the Hill,” explains Jamie Spriggs, President and CEO, ConnectYourCare. “We wanted to make sure they understood the importance of giving the nation’s workforce access to affordable, tax-advantaged healthcare financing tools through employer-provided plans.”
The Capitol Hill meetings were part of the three-day, hands-on ECFC annual industry conference, “Transforming Uncertainty into Opportunity,” held in Washington, D.C., March 6-8, 2013. Individual and group members in attendance, including Spriggs from ConnectYourCare, gained insider insight into the tax reform and political climate in Washington from POLITICO Senior Tax Reporter Steven Sloan and House Ways and Means Committee member Representative Ron Kind (D-3rd WI). A regulators panel featuring Donna M. Crisalli, Esq., Internal Revenue Service, and Kevin Knopf, Esq., U.S. Department of the Treasury, addressed the latest on ACA compliance and regulations as well as tax-advantaged accounts, cafeteria plans, flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
A legislative update, “It’s a Game Changer: Pay or Play or Pay to Play?,” led by John Hickman, Esq., CFCI, Chair, ECFC’s Legislative and Lobbying Committee Chair, took a close look at the many requirements for employer-sponsored health plans on the horizon for 2014, including the employer responsibility (“pay or play”) requirements, new fees and taxes, HRAs and individual policy exchange arrangements, wellness program rules, and the 2014 mandates. Mr. Hickman also monitored a Technical Advisory Committee panel that fielded pressing ECFC member questions to help them gain traction on the estimated 127 million man hours per year needed to ensure compliance with all of ACA’s rules and regulations.
Speaking Up on the Hill
Spriggs’ participation in the ECFC annual conference gave ConnectYourCare a unique opportunity to initiate meaningful, collaborative exchanges with key Congressional leaders and their staffers on how to best preserve and expand employer-sponsored flexible compensation programs. “First and foremost, we demonstrated how account-based plans enable middle class Americans to better afford healthcare, increase their net spendable income, and gain access to the healthcare, dependent/child care, and work-related transportation compensation they need and value most,” explains Spriggs, ConnectYourCare.
Key priorities for meetings with Congressional leaders and their staffs included the need to:
Modify the Treasury Department’s “use‐or‐lose” (UOL) policy that applies to health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs).
Preserve stand-alone health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
Rescind the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement to obtain a prescription in order to receive reimbursement for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines through a FSA, HSA, or HRA.
Equalize the transit and parking portion of the commuter benefit on a permanent basis.
Modify HSAs to make them a stronger benefit tool by:
1. Allowing individuals over age 65 to contribute to a HSA;
2. Allowing early retirees to use their HSA funds to pay for health insurance coverage;
3. Revising the statute to include high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) in plan types that meet minimum essential health benefits (EHB) coverage requirements; and
4. Allowing HSA funds to be used for adult children’s medical expenses.
“ECFC’s annual conference is an opportunity for the varied industry players contributing to the design, development, administration, and delivery of tax-advantaged benefits plans to come together to share ideas and insights,” concludes Mr. Triplett, “It’s a place for our industry to get questions answered and voices heard.”
The Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining and expanding private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis. It is the single organization that focuses to preserve, protect, and defend the tax-advantaged programs currently available to working families through employer plan sponsors.
As people who can make sense of the evolving health care landscape, ConnectYourCare gives employers a fighting chance against skyrocketing health care costs—while offering employees a valuable benefit they use and appreciate to better manage health savings. Delivering ROI and efficiencies at every turn; giving individuals tools they can use to make better-informed choices, including our renowned service representatives; simplifying the entire process with market-setting technology solutions—and continually developing new features and options—these are the core competencies that have allowed us to grow a loyal and highly satisfied client base of organizations of every size. Learn more at connectyourcare.com.