Gardner’s bipartisan bill would delay payment due date of health insurance tax

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) on Jan. 16 sponsored a bipartisan bill that would give Americans a break until after 2021 on paying a mandatory annual fee to their health insurance providers.

“I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation that will make sure Americans are not forced to needlessly pay even more for their health insurance at a time when health care costs continue to rise,” Sen. Gardner said on Jan. 18.

The Health Insurance Tax Relief Act, S. 172, would provide a two-year delay of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT), which was created under the Affordable Care Act as a fee paid to health insurers on health policy premiums.

If implemented in 2020, the HIT would levy $16 billion in fees on health insurance, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national association.

“If Congress fails to act, the HIT tax will increase premiums by 2.2 percent or $196 per person in the individual market, $479 per family in the small-group market, $458 in the large-group market, and $157 for Medicaid premiums on average nationwide,” said Sen. Gardner last week referring to AHIP estimates.

Additionally, without a HIT moratorium in place for plan year 2019, Medicare Advantage premiums would increase by roughly 55.7 percent from $393.05 to $612.09, the senator said, citing actuarial analysis released by global financial consultants Oliver Wyman.

“There are roughly 21 million seniors and individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare Advantage that would have been hit especially hard by this tax,” he said.

Oliver Wyman’s analysis also estimated that Coloradans in Sen. Gardner’s home state would pay about $162 more in 2020 when purchasing insurance on the individual marketplace if the HIT isn’t lifted, according to the lawmaker.

“Without congressional action, the Health Insurance Tax will impose fees on nearly 142 million Americans’ health care coverage in 2020,” Gardner added.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), one of six cosponsors of S. 172, said the proposed measure would improve the nation’s health care law and reduce health insurance premiums.

“Patients deserve access to affordable, quality care – full stop,” Sen. Shaheen said. “Making health care coverage more affordable requires an all hands on deck approach, and suspending the health insurance tax is one component of that effort.”

S. 172 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for consideration.