Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Health care reform could undermine ERISA, with downstream effects

The Wall Street Journal has a challenging editorial today (July 21) “Repealing Erisa: if you like your health plan, you won’t be able to keep it” about how provisions in the health care reform bill would gut many of the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) (Findlaw text here). The web link for the WSJ story is here.

Particularly, it would hinder the ability of employers who self-insure to continue to do so across state lines without a lot of bureaucratic regulation, now avoided by ERISA. In the past, experience has tended to show that self-insured companies often can offer better benefits and even better defined benefit pensions.

The Journal today also has a comprehensive analysis of health care reform on p A16 in the print version. I’ll come back to that soon on the issues blog, but one of the important points is that keeping a mandate on employers (even small ones, with a $250000 payroll floor) is not only anti-competitive (abroad, competing with single payer countries) but could compromise many services to the public that depend on contractors, such as the home health caregiving industry.

It doesn’t sound like Congress has thought too carefully about the potential consequences of what it is about to do.

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