January 2010 Health Care Reform Update

Dear ACHA Member,

We write to update you about health care reform legislative developments.  In particular, we want you to be aware of our latest effort to preserve the ability of colleges/universities to continue offering comprehensive student health insurance plans in the final health care reform bill that is being negotiated between the earlier passed House version (H.R. 3962) and the Senate version (H.R. 3590) which passed on December 24th.

Encouragingly, the Senate bill, which is being used as the basis for conference negotiations, contains language that recognizes the important role that institutions of higher education play in providing comprehensive and affordable student health insurance.  See the Rule of Construction (Section 1560(c), page 367) in the legislation [pdf]. This is the entire Senate bill (4.1 mb) and may take several minutes to load.

However, after further analysis, we are concerned that the exclusive manner in which the group insurance market is defined within the bill could cause Student Health Insurance/Benefits Plans (SHIBPs) to lose the ability to continue to be group rated, thus becoming substantially more expensive for students and institutions. We feel that further clarification is needed to ensure the continuation of SHIBPs as group-like plans to prevent an increase in costs associated with rating such plans in the individual market.

This concern has been communicated in a letter [pdf] and issue brief [pdf] sent from ACHA to a group of Congressional leaders. The letter proposes clarified language to ensure that SHIBPs are recognized as group-like plans in the final health care reform bill.

A letter communicating the same concern to Congressional leaders was also sent from the American Council on Education on behalf of a number of other higher education organizations.

The ACHA letter and issue brief were sent to the following Congressional leaders. If you are a constituent of any of these legislators, it would be helpful if you would share the materials with your legislative affairs staff on campus, and your Congressional members to reiterate the message on our behalf. 

US House of Representatives:

Speaker: Nancy Pelosi (CA-8)

Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer (MD-5)

Committee on Energy and Commerce:

Henry Waxman, Chair, (CA-30)

John Dingell, Chairman Emeritus, (MI-15)

Health Subcommittee:
Frank Pallone, Chair, (NJ-6)

Committee on Ways and Means:

Charles Rangle, Chair, (NY-15)

Health Subcommittee:
Pete Stark, Chair, (CA-13)

Committee on Education and Labor:

George Miller, Chair, (CA-07)

Health Subcommittee:
Rob Andrews, Chair (NJ-1)

US Senate:

Majority Leader: Henry Reid, (NV)

Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee:

Tom Harkin, Chair, (IA)

Barbara Mikulski, Member (MD)

Subcommittee on Children and Families:
Chris Dodd, Chair, (CT)

Finance Committee:

Max Baucus, Chair, (MT)

Debbie Stabenow, Member, (MI)

Charles Schumer, Member, (NY)