President Donald Trump has signed a 5,593-page spending bill that includes major life and health insurance provisions — and issued a statement indicating that he intends to cut out some parts of the new law.
The bill, H.R. 133, served as the vehicle for ferrying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, through Congress. The best known provisions provide funding for federal government operations and for COVID-19 relief programs, such as a temporary unemployment insurance benefits increase.
The CAA 2021 package also includes sections that:
- Replace a 4% fixed interest rate in the official federal definition of “life insurance” with an adjustable rate.
- Provide a framework that’s supposed to eliminate most forms of “surprise billing,” or situations in which insured patients get large bills for out-of-network emergency care, or for care provided by out-of-network doctors at in-network hospitals.
- Require group health brokers to give clients detailed compensation reports, and require providers of individual health insurance to tell the insureds how much of the premium dollar was spent on agent commissions.
But the rescission statement the president issued along with the H.R. 133 signing announcement raises questions about what the final version of CAA 2021 will really look like.
- Links to White House documents related to the CAA 2021/H.R. 133 signing are available here.
- The official CAA 2021/H.R. 133 Congress.gov page is available here.
- An article about the CAA 2021/H.R. 133 surprise billing and health agent compensation disclosure provisions are available here.
The president said in the statement that he wants to protect the people of the United States “from the economic devastation and hardship that was caused by the China Virus.”
He said he has told Congress that he wants far less wasteful spending in H.R. 133 and more money going to the American people, in the form of stimulus checks.
“As president I am demanding many rescissions under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974,” the president said in the signing statement.
The act provides that the president should tell both the House and the Senate when all or part of any budget authority for various projects or activities should be rescinded, the president said.
The president said he will sign the spending and COVID-19 relief package “with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed.”
“I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” the president said.
The president did not mention the life insurance interest rate, surprise billing or health agent comp disclosure provisions in the signing statement.
At press time, a redlined version of the CAA 2021 package was not available.
U.S. Government Accountability Office suggested in a 2018 decision that it believes that a rescission request is subject to congressional approval, and that, without congressional approval, a president can use Impoundment Control Act authority to impound funds for only 45 days of continuous congressional session.
— Read CAA 2021 Package Includes Life Insurance Interest Rate Provision, on ThinkAdvisor.