Congress Passes 21st Century Cures Act to Reinstate "Standalone HRAs"

December, 2016

By Curtis Farmer, Director, Group Benefit Programs
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 94 to 5 to pass H.R. 34, also known as the 21st Century Cures Act. Having previously passed in the House of Representatives by a large margin, the bill is now headed to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

This potential law is now in position to bring about a very significant change in how small businesses are able to help their employees with health insurance. In addition to language that improves Medicare enrollment options for seniors, this law would eliminate the federal prohibition on standalone HRAs (Health Reimbursement Accounts) for small employers and give back to them the ability to assist their employees with non-group coverage in a tax advantaged account. The HRA provision of the legislation is applicable to businesses with less than 50 employees, must be supplemented by existing health coverage, and reimbursement payments would be capped at $4,950 per employee ($10,000 if for a family).

It's also important to note that any future changes to the ACA (Affordable Care Act) as a result of President-Elect Trump's plan to repeal/change healthcare law could have an impact on the implementation of this rule and on the individual insurance market overall.

We will continue to update our members as we monitor the changing landscape of healthcare heading into the new year.


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