U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) today introduced legislation that will provide Virginia families with additional healthcare coverage choices to best meet their financial and medical needs. The Warner legislation includes a new, lower-cost health coverage option for consumers, and sets up a process to allow coverage plans to be offered regionally and across state lines. A third Warner bill works to ease unnecessary and burdensome reporting requirements for employers.
“Before, during and after the debate over health care reform, I consistently said that The Affordable Care Act was not perfect, and that Congress would have to revisit the ACA to correct problems for consumers and employers as this new, improved system was implemented,” Sen. Warner said. “We have listened closely to Virginia consumers, small businesses, providers and insurers to identify and work through some of these challenges. We have designed some targeted, commonsense improvements to keep what works and improve what could work better, and we will continue to look for places to make additional improvements.”
· The Expanded Consumer Choice Act, introduced by Sen. Warner and Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), creates a new coverage option, the Copper Plan, to be offered to consumers along with the existing Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze health care plans. Copper Plans will provide a lower-cost, higher-deductible option for consumers, while also covering the essential health benefits and consumer protections required of all health care plans offered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Members of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, a coalition of employer groups including the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation, support the Copper Plan proposal.
· A second proposal introduced by Sen. Warner directs state insurance commissioners to work together to design an effective model that would allow insurers to offer coverage across state boundaries, increasing competition and choice for both consumers and employers. The legislation directs the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to identify any regulatory and administrative challenges while designing a more open and transparent system to maintain consumer protections while providing insurance products across state lines or within a specific region.
· A third proposal introduced by Sen. Warner today seeks to ease reporting requirements for employers. The legislation directs the Department of Health & Human Services and the Treasury Department to design a more workable and less burdensome system for employers to report the hours worked by their employees.
The legislation is part of a package of health care reforms introduced today by Sen. Warner and others in Congress who are committed to work together to fix problems revealed during the implementation of the ACA. Sen. Warner also is cosponsoring legislation to improve employer flexibility and affordability by expanding the option for voluntary coverage for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, which represents about 98 percent of all employers. The package also makes it easier for individuals and families to keep, or sign-up for, health coverage through direct access to insurers, and by working with trusted insurance agents and brokers.
Sen. Warner has been at the forefront of working to correct problems with the new health care law. He successfully pushed the Obama Administration for a change that now allows Virginians to get lower-cost, catastrophic coverage if their existing coverage plans are cancelled. At the request of Virginia’s first responders, he also successfully pushed the Obama Administration to clarify regulations potentially threatening coverage options for volunteer fire and rescue personnel.
Sen. Warner remains committed to working for responsible improvements to The Affordable Care Act to help Virginians secure affordable health care coverage, while preventing insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing health conditions, charging women more than men, or dropping someone’s coverage when they get sick.