The National Retail Federation (NRF) said it supports legislation unveiled by House Republicans to repeal and replace former President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“Retailers want reforms that push us toward a more competition-driven private health care market, and the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bills take us in that direction,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said.
“We believe this reform can be achieved without disturbing the tax treatment of employer-provided benefits, which are the foundation of coverage for more than 175 million Americans,” French said. “Employees are highly sensitive to any change in benefits and younger, healthier workers could choose to drop their coverage altogether rather than pay more taxes. We are pleased that House leadership heard our concerns and that their bills do not disturb this structure. We will work with Congress to repeal all threats to employer-based coverage, including the so-called Cadillac tax on health benefits.”
Retailers oppose proposals to cap the current exclusion from taxable income of employer-provided health benefits, and NRF has been working to educate lawmakers on the consequences of taxing health benefits. While House Republican leadership proposed capping the exclusion last June, the provision was not included in the legislation released on Monday. NRF nonetheless remains wary that the concept will emerge in other legislation later this year.
NRF supports efforts to repeal Obamacare’s employer mandate and to provide the individual and small group markets with interim stability.
“Health benefits are highly sought after, even for small start-up businesses, and greater stability will help create a better functioning market,” French said.
Retailers are also pleased with the reform bills’ focus on market-driven changes to benefit offerings. Greater variation in what is offered and freeing up where it can be purchased would help lower costs through greater competition. Enhancements to health savings accounts, greater state flexibility in rating factors and the availability of catastrophic coverage are all important reforms NRF supports.