3 Roskam bills promoting access to Health Savings Accounts pass House committee

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has advanced 11 bills, including three introduced by U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), to expand access to Health Savings Accounts (HSA), which currently provide healthcare coverage to more than 25 million Americans.

HSAs save both individual policyholders and taxpayers money by promoting consumer-driven healthcare and using market competition to keep down costs, according to a statement from the congressman’s office.
“Health care reform should empower individuals and families to make decisions for themselves based on what fits their needs and budget,” said Rep. Roskam, chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.

“One of the best tools we have to accomplish this goal is consumer-directed health plans that are paired with Health Savings Accounts or HSAs,” the congressman said.

All three of Rep. Roskam’s bills advanced on July 11 by voice vote during a Ways and Means Committee hearing, including the bipartisan Provide High Deductible Health Plans with First Dollar Coverage Flexibility Act, H.R. 6301, which Rep. Roskam introduced on June 29 with cosponsors U.S. Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), both members of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

H.R. 6301 would permit insurance plans to offer coverage for high-value, low-cost services such as telehealth; chronic disease management such as diabetic test strips; or primary care visits, according to a summary provided by Rep. Roskam’s office. H.R. 6301 would give U.S. consumers choice and flexibility to engage in their healthcare, while also incentivizing early intervention, which eventually could mitigate healthcare costs, according to the statement.

During his opening statement prior to the committee’s vote on H.R. 6301, Rep. Roskam clarified that the average median income of an HSA account holder is $57,000, and most accounts are held by Americans born in 1965 or later based on demographic information provided by WageWorks Inc. “So in other words,” Rep. Roskam told committee members, “modest income, younger people.”

Citing “a really quite diverse” demographic for HSA account holders, he said their popularity continues to rise.

“As the committee continues to discuss healthcare reforms, we’ve got to remember that empowering individuals and their families to make decisions for themselves based on their own needs and budgets is critical,” the congressman added.

Engaging Americans in their healthcare also can help rein in costs “that are overtaking our system,” he said.

The Health Savings Act of 2018, H.R. 6314, also was advanced by the committee on July 11. Introduced by U.S. House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX) on July 6 with original cosponsors U.S. Reps. Roskam and Todd Rokita (R-IN), the bill would allow lowest cost, catastrophic and bronze plans to qualify for HSA contributions.

Currently, consumers who choose such low-premium plans are disqualified from obtaining an HSA, according to Rep. Roskam’s statement. H.R. 6314 would provide “a simple but powerful fix that drives consumer choice by allowing an individual to select the coverage that is best for their circumstance,” the congressman said.

The last Roskam bill to move on July 11 in committee was the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans Act of 2018, H.R. 6311, which he introduced on July 6 with Rep. Burgess.

H.R. 6311 would provide a much-needed off-ramp from the rising healthcare premiums that have resulted from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, according to Rep. Roskam.

Tax credits provided under the ACA are available only to offset the cost of bronze, silver, gold or platinum health plans sold on the U.S. government-run health insurance marketplace. The copper Catastrophic plans, which are the lowest-cost premium plans available, are not eligible for such tax credits.

H.R. 6311 would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the ACA to modify the definition of qualified health plan for purposes of the health insurance premium tax credit and to allow individuals purchasing health insurance in the individual market to purchase a lower premium copper plan, according to the congressional record.