This week, President Obama signed into law a bipartisan budget package that included the E-FLEX Coalition's legislation to permanently strike the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) mandatory automatic enrollment provision off the federal books.
The mandatory automatic enrollment provision would have required employers with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll employees into coverage if a plan was not voluntary chosen or declined by an employee. If this requirement would have remained in effect, employees could have lost the opportunity to select the coverage that best meets their own health care needs, and employers could have been subject to duplicative and costly regulations.
Striking the ACA's automatic enrollment provisions has been a top legislative priority since the E-FLEX Coalition's formation over four and a half years ago. The advocacy effort to get this legislation to the President's desk included hundreds of meetings with House and Senate members, congressional leadership, and committees of jurisdiction on both sides of the Capitol and both sides of the aisle; thousands of grassroots messages, and a strong partnership of E-FLEX Coalition members.
In response to the president signing this legislation into law, members of the E-FLEX coalition issued the following statements:
Retail Industry Leaders Association
"Retailers welcome the repeal of the ACA's automatic enrollment requirement, a provision that had the potential of forcing employees into a health plan that they did not want or need and creating an administrative nightmare for businesses. Striking this redundant requirement off the books puts health decision making back in the hands of American workers and their families, and provides employers with relief from potentially problematic and burdensome regulations," said Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs at RILA. "RILA and E-FLEX are pleased that there was bipartisan agreement that this provision needed to go."
Food Marketing Institute
"The Food Marketing Institute applauds the budget agreement decision to repeal the Affordable Care Act's mandatory auto-enrollment provision," said FMI Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Jennifer Hatcher. "It is nonsensical to automatically enroll an associate in a health care plan that they did not choose. The supermarket industry appreciates the leadership of House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) for striking this burden from the ACA and for managing the issue in a bipartisan fashion."
National Restaurant Association
"The National Restaurant Association is delighted that Congress and the President have addressed the confusing and unnecessary auto enrollment requirement under the health care law," stated Angelo Amador, Senior Vice President & Regulatory Counsel, National Restaurant Association. "Without this change, the auto enrollment requirement would have had a damaging impact on both restaurant owners and their employees—creating additional administrative burdens for employers. This fix helps alleviate the potential financial burden placed on employees who inadvertently miss opt-out deadlines and free restaurant owners from additional unnecessary paperwork."
American Hotel & Lodging Association
"With 92 percent of lodging properties in the United States owned by franchisees and small businesses, the lodging industry is pleased that the bipartisan budget deal includes the repeal of the auto-enrollment mandate under the Affordable Care Act," said Brian Crawford, AH&LA's Vice President of Government and Political Affairs. "This unnecessary and duplicative requirement served only to place unnecessary burdens on employers and undermined employees' abilities to make health care decisions that work best for themselves and their families. The repeal will now provide businesses the much-needed relief and certainty to effectively operate and succeed."
Associated General Contractors
"This new measure protects countless construction workers from being forced to pay deductions for health insurance they may not need or cannot afford," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. "The fact Congress and the administration were willing to address the concerns we and other groups raised about this provision will encourage us to continue our push for additional reforms to make sure construction workers have access to high quality, affordable health care coverage."
International Franchise Association
"The International Franchise Association and franchise small businesses everywhere are thankful that the automatic enrollment provision in the Affordable Care Act was removed as part of the bipartisan budget agreement," said Elizabeth Taylor, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy and Counsel. "In addition to costing billions of dollars, the provision would have penalized employees who took it upon themselves to obtain their own health care coverage, but mistakenly failed to opt-out of an employer plan. We applaud Congress and the President for their willingness to adapt the ACA in a way that provides relief for employees and small business owners."
National Association of Health Underwriters
"Requiring employers to enroll workers in health coverage automatically would be difficult to implement and create unnecessary hassle. NAHU applauds members of Congress for eliminating this ACA provision which will reduce the burden on employers who voluntarily provide health insurance to their workforce. Forcing employees into coverage they don't want and may not need is not good for anyone," stated Janet Trautwein, Executive Vice President & CEO of NAHU.
National Grocers Association
"On behalf of a membership in which 92 percent of companies offer health benefits to full-time employees, the National Grocers Association (NGA) welcomes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's auto enrollment provision," said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA. "NGA has long supported commonsense tweaks to various ACA provisions that relieve employers from onerous regulations and enable independent supermarket operators to focus on what they do best, serving their customers and communities. I applaud the leadership of the House and Senate for recognizing the burden this provision would place on employers, and for working in a bipartisan manner to pass this positive reform."
National Retail Federation
"This is the second significant reform to the ACA in two months," National Retail Federation Vice President for Health Policy Neil Trautwein said. "We hope this is a trend toward making this challenging law more workable."
The Employers for Flexibility in Health Care (E-FLEX) is a coalition of leading trade associations and businesses in the retail, supermarket, temporary staffing, restaurant, hospitality, construction, and other service-related industries, as well as employer-sponsored health plans insuring millions of American workers. Members of the E-FLEX Coalition are strong supporters of employer-sponsored coverage and have been working to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in ways that help ensure that employer-sponsored coverage – the backbone of the US health care system – remains a competitive option for employees.