As a policy debate continues to rage nationally about the future of the Affordable Care Act, a new legal analysis released today by University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Leslie Francis outlines why Graham-Cassidy —the newest effort to repeal Obamacare —poses a threat to employer-provided health insurance.
Francis, who holds joint appointments as Alfred C. Emery professor of law and professor of philosophy at the University of Utah, published her analysis on Bill of Health, a platform sponsored by Harvard Law School devoted to examining the intersection of law and healthcare; biotechnology and bioethics.
Francis’ commentary comes as the Senate prepares to act on the proposal by Sept. 30.
Francis’ analysis examines the Graham-Cassidy proposal to make changes to ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act —a federal statute about pensions and benefits enacted in 1974. She states that while ERISA provides consumers with good benefits in regards to their pensions, it largely takes out any state efforts to protect employer-provided health insurance. Many people get their health insurance from their employers and the Affordable Care Act tried to protect that with an employer mandate included in the law. The Graham-Cassidy proposal takes away the employer mandate, potentially putting people at risk to lose their health insurance, Francis said.
“Graham-Cassidy § 105 would repeal the ACA “employer mandate”. Although its sponsors claim that the bill will give states a great deal of flexibility, it will do nothing to help states ensure that employers provide their employees with decent health insurance; quite the reverse. It will also give employers the freedom to ignore the popular ACA requirement that allows children up to age 26 to receive coverage through their parent’ plans, at least when their parents get health insurance from their employers,” Francis writes.
“If Graham-Cassidy passes, the federal pressure for employers to provide health insurance will vanish. ERISA preemption, in all its glory, will remain. ERISA will continue to require employers to tell their employees what they are—or are not—getting. And it will continue to require employers to exercise appropriate fiduciary duties. But it will also continue to block states from imposing coverage mandates on employers who self-insure. And it will continue to block employees from getting damages that are caused by negligent denial of coverage,” the analysis states.
“ERISA tends to be off the radar screen for many interested in health law and health policy. They may be reminded all too soon that this is a serious mistake. Employees and your children under 26: beware of Graham-Cassidy,” Francis concludes.