Senate passes two health insurance amendments, files a third

The Senate actually got something done last week. Senators voted 52-46 Friday morning to cut the employer contribution on their own health insurance, reported The Hill. Additionally, the Senate voted 56-44 to approve an amendment aimed at improving health insurance price transparency.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who proposed the first amendment, has pushed the issue for years. His proposal mandates that all political appointees--including President Barack Obama--purchase insurance on the Affordable Care Act's individual exchange. The amendment would not impact congressional staff.

Vitter reiterated that lawmakers do not need a "special subsidy." Because political members will visit the exchanges, there is no special deal on the table.

The second amendment, brought forth by Tim Scott (R-S.C.), would "make sure that insurance companies increase transparency on the actual cost of the health insurance tax on monthly premiums," according to a second article from The Hill. Additionally, the amendment establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund that increases of ACA taxes that are included in monthly premiums.

Scott's amendment met some resistance. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) intended to vote down the proposal, noted The Hill, because she believed passing it would mean "patients and families get skewed, incomplete information about their healthcare costs," 

Elsewhere last week, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) filed an amendment that entailed full repeal of the ACA's health insurance tax, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) announced. The proposal was part of the ongoing Senate budget debate.  

In response to the proposal, AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni stated that "repealing the health insurance tax would provide immediate relief to millions of families, small business owners, seniors, and states. Now is the time for Congress to act."

Last year, a study from the the National Federation of Independent Business found that the health tax on insurers could eliminate as many as 286,000 jobs by 2023, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. What's more, a repeal of the health tax would save consumers on average $514 per year for individual coverage and $152 per year for each Medicaid enrollee, noted AHIP.

For more:
- here's the first and second article in the Hill
- read AHIP's announcement