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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

Proposed Legislation Aims to Revive HRAs for Small Businesses

Congressman Charles W. Boustany, Jr., M.D., (R-LA) and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) have introduced a new bill called the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act of 2014. The Act aims to help the small business community offer affordable and competitive healthcare options and would exempt stand-alone Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) offered by small businesses from group health plan rules. 

The Small Business Healthcare Act of 2014

The introduction of the act comes as a big win for the small business community after IRS Notice 2013-54 was announced on September 13, 2013. As you may recall, IRS Notice 2013-54 requires stand-alone HRAs (and other employer healthcare arrangements) to comply with group health plan rules including annual limits rules and preventive care rules under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

According to Congressman Thompson in a recent press release, “Since the landmark health care reform legislation was passed, we’ve focused too much time trying to undermine the law, and far too little time working to build on its important reforms so that all Americans can afford health insurance,” said Thompson. “This bipartisan legislation moves past party politics, fixes an important part of the health care law, and improves choice and affordability. By building on the reforms made in the Affordable Care Act, like this legislation does, we can make sure every American can afford to go to the doctor – and that’s what matters.”

Congressman Thompson’s website also goes on to breakdown the advantages that the Small Business Healthcare Act of 2014 restores such as:

  • Ensuring that small businesses are allowed to use pre-tax dollars to give employees a defined contribution.

  • Allowing employees to use these funds as an HRA to purchase health coverage on the individual market, as well as for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses.

  • Protecting small business employers from being unnecessarily financially penalized for providing this option to employees.

For more information about this bill visit congress.gov.

More about Health Reimbursement Arrangements

Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are group health plans paid for by an employer to reimburse the medical expenses of its employees, their spouses, and dependents. HRAs are designed to give employees more choice and greater control over their health care coverage. Historically, HRAs have been an affordable tool used by the small business community to help recruit and retain quality employees while staying competitive with larger businesses.

Update

Congress introduced revised language for the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act on June 25, 2015. This legislation is vital to the small business community! Visit our legislative resource page for detailed information, including how you can help this proposed legislation become law.

Learn how the Small Business HRA works today.