House defeats bipartisan fix to ACA’s treatment of health plans for expatriate workers


WASHINGTON – The House on Wednesday rejected a bipartisan fix to the Affordable Care Act that would exempt U.S. health plans sold to expatriate workers from having to comply with the law’s mandates.

The legislation was aimed at helping U.S. insurance companies like Cigna and Metlife that are now at a competitive disadvantage with overseas firms that do not have to comply with mandates such as the so-called Cadillac tax on high-end plans, patient protections and a host of reporting requirements.

The measure garnered a 257-159 majority but failed to win the two-thirds required to pass under expedited procedures.

Top Democrats say the measure contains loopholes that would allow insurance companies to sell inferior policies to American and foreign workers and their families in the United States. They said efforts to craft a more narrowly tailored fix had failed.

The GOP-controlled House has voted more than 50 times to repeal or weaken the health care law.

But Wednesday’s vote was the second time in two weeks that the House has voted on fixes to flaws in the law. It voted late last month to ease a requirement that limited the types of plans small businesses could offer.

Wednesday’s legislation was co-sponsored by Reps. John Carney, D-Del., and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who said it would preserve more than 1,000 jobs in their two districts alone

“It ensures that U.S.-based expatriate insurance carriers can compete on a level playing field with their foreign competitors and that American jobs stay here in America,” Carney and Nunes wrote in a letter to fellow lawmakers.

But Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Sander Levin, D-Mich., key architects of the 2010 health care law, said in a letter to colleagues that the bill “creates large loopholes that would permit insurance companies to avoid their responsibilities under the law.” For instance, they argued, the measure could give employers incentive to hire foreign expatriate workers instead of U.S. citizens because they could offer foreigners less expensive health plans.

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