No matter your political bent, you’d have to agree the 2016 elections have been one for the record books. Now that we know the results, we can look ahead to what may happen in our world of benefits over the next few months.
While campaigning, President-elect Donald Trump shared his thoughts on policy issues impacting the workplace such as quality health care, health savings account flexibility, tax deductions for child care expenses, accessible mental health care, affordable prescription drugs and paid maternity leave. In June, House Republicans released six issue reports touching on workplace issues as well.
How do the issues presented by Trump and the House GOP stack up against the thoughts of our members?
In September, we asked our members to respond to a list of campaign issues that would impact U.S. workplaces. Specifically, we asked them to indicate support or opposition from their perspective as a plan sponsor or fiduciary. Here is how their responses track with the campaign issues.
Inside the New Administration & Congress: What’s Next?—Hear Washington insiders’ take on what the election results mean for employer-sponsored benefits.
Industry Support for Health Care Issues
- Increased health care provider transparency (96%)
- Tax-favored status of employer-provided health coverage for employers (87%)
- Increased access to mental health care (84%)
- Tax-favored status of employer-provided health coverage for workers (82%)
- Expanded use/flexibility for health savings accounts (82%)
- Elimination of preexisting condition exclusions (73%)
- Individual health plans that would allow individuals to band together to purchase coverage (69%)
- Legalized prescription drug importation from other countries (68%)
- Coverage of adult dependents until the age of 26 (63%)
- Refundable tax credit available to all uninsured Americans when they buy health coverage (59%)
- State-based high-risk pools for the sickest individuals (49%)
- Availability of low-cost, low-benefit plans with no coverage requirements (e.g., skinny plans, bare-bones plans, minimeds) (49%)
- Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (41%)
- Premiums based on age (30%)
- Premiums based on medical experience (23%)
Trump has said he supports a repeal of the excise tax on high-cost health plans (the “Cadillac” tax) that was put into place by the Affordable Care Act. The tax is unpopular with our members as well; in this survey, 76% of respondents told us they oppose it.
Learn how presidential and congressional election outcomes will likely impact your employee benefit plans at the Washington Legislative Update.
Industry Support for Other Benefit Issues
- Tax-favored status of employer-provided retirement savings for workers (91%)
- Tax-favored status of employer-provided retirement savings for employers (88%)
- Tax exclusions for child-care expenses (75%)
- Consolidation of different types of retirement savings vehicles (60%)
- Mandated paid family leave (54%)
- Disconnecting benefits from employment and attaching them instead to the worker to increase portability (36%)
- Creation of a general savings vehicle (a “Universal Savings Account”) that gives an individual full investment control and total access to cash at any time (36%)
My crystal ball is on the fritz, so I’m not able to predict what will happen when Congress reconvenes later this month. Will Congress pass and President Obama sign any pending legislation before the end of 2016? What will happen during the first January days of the new (115th) Congress? What about after Trump is inaugurated on January 20, 2017? I wish I knew. One thing I do know—employers and plan sponsors will be watching and ready to act. Our members remain committed to providing quality benefits to ensure the health and financial security of their workers.
Stay tuned to the International Foundation. We’ll continue to keep you informed on important legislative and regulatory developments in Today’s Headlines and the Legislative Tracker, through an upcoming webcast Inside the New Administration & Congress: What’s Next?, and, of course, here on the Word on Benefits.
Julie Stich, CEBS
Associate Vice President, Content at the International Foundation