Policy and Legal

Policy and Legal

NAM: Make Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Easier

Manufacturers are committed to providing employer-sponsored health insurance to their workers, the NAM told Congress late last week—and that’s why any changes made to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 should facilitate rather than hamper those offerings.

What’s going on: “ERISA underpins manufacturers’ ability to provide health insurance to their employees,” NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain said in response to a call by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce majority for comments on how to improve ERISA as the law’s 50th anniversary nears.

  • “The law allows manufacturers to provide uniform benefits to workers located across multiple states, and to tailor those benefits to meet the unique needs of their workforces.”

​​​​​​​Why it’s important: Manufacturers have continued to offer high-quality health care plans to their employees—even absorbing cost increases in recent years to keep premiums affordable—but they “increasingly find their efforts to be responsible stewards of their health plans undermined by the complexities, bureaucracy and ineffective design of the broader health care system,” Crain told the committee.

What should be done: It is ERISA’s federal preemption of state and local laws that allows manufacturers to offer uniform health benefits, Crain continued, and that preemption must be preserved.

  • “Eroding or eliminating preemption would make it significantly more difficult for manufacturers operating in multiple states to offer their employees health insurance because the manufacturer would be forced to comply with cumbersome and potentially conflicting state-based rules, a costly and untenable situation,” he said.
  • In addition to maintaining ERISA preemption, Congress should seek to “make health care data more accessible and user-friendly for employer plan sponsors,” and reduce regulatory burdens on employers.
  • Given that pharmacy benefit managers contribute to the increasing costs of providing employer-sponsored health care, the NAM also continues to call for PBM reform to increase transparency into these underregulated actors.
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