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PPACA small-group definition bill nears House floor

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Members of the U.S. House could vote on H.R. 1624, a federal small-group plan definition bill, later today.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) calls for the cut-off to increase to 100 employees, from 50, in all states starting Jan. 1. H.R. 1624, the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act bill, would let a state decide whether to set the cut-off at 50 or 100.

See also: Why some small-group health submarkets may implode

The amended version of the bill coming up for a vote would also add $205 million to the federal Medicare Improvement Fund.

Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., introduced the bill together with more than 200 cosponsors. He says the $205 million addition to the Medicare fund would restore funding that was cut by PPACA.

The House is considering that bill, and others, through a streamlined process designed for bills with broad support. 

The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently discussed the bill at a hearing. Monica Lindeen, the Montana insurance commissioner, a Democrat and the president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), testified for the bill. She argued that suddenly subjecting employers with 51 to 100 employees to the PPACA small-group market rules could destabilize the small-group markets in some states.

Mike Kreidler, the Washington state insurance commissioner, testified against the bill, suggesting that changing the small-group definition rules so close to 2016 could cause problems for the small-group markets in states that had been counting on the shift to the 100-employee cut-off.

See also: H.R. 1624: PPACA small-group bill divides state regulators

Marilyn Tavenner, the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the current president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), recently wrote to House leaders to ask them to support the bill, and the AHIP today put out a blog welcoming the House vote on the PACE Act bill.