VICTORY! President Obama Signs Into Law Legislation that Allows for HRAs

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VICTORY! President Obama Signs Into Law Legislation that Allows for HRAs

On Tuesday, December 12, 2016, President Obama signed into law bipartisan legislation allowing small businesses with less than 50 employees to offer Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) without penalty.

The language which was identical to previous legislation approved by the House of Representatives was inserted into the 21st Century Cares Act, a sweeping piece of legislation that funded important health programs and includes significant resources to the Beau Biden “moonshot” project- with a goal of curing cancer. The tack on of our legislation is a testament to the hard work done by the NASE, congressional champions and staff, and our coalition partners to emphasize how important HRAs are to the small business community.

NASE has been part of a coalition of small business groups leading the effort to change this unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which negatively impacted small employers with 49 or less employees that are under no legal obligation to provide a qualified healthcare plan under the employer mandate of the ACA. HRAs are a key health care tool that has long-been used to help small business owners provide some level of financial support for their employees.

In 2015, the Treasury Department announced that it was delaying the enforcement of the technical guidance issued in September 2013 regarding Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs). When the technical guidance was issued, NASE submitted a draft response illustrating its effect on the small business community.

Tuesday marks the conclusion of NASE’s nearly three years of aggressive advocacy with key coalition partners to reverse the damaging Treasury guidance. These efforts have been supported by the House and Senate and championed by numerous lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. We are pleased to end 2016 with a significant legislative success, however, there is much work to be done and we look forward to 2017 and representing our members and the 23 million self-employed on key issues, including health care, tax reform, and regulatory review.

Happy New Year!Katie Vlietstra is NASE’s Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs.

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