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On the Hill: Congress focuses on extending the renewal of certain health plans

Last Friday, the House passed the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), which would allow health insurance companies to continue offering health plans that were canceled because they did not meet new Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards. The bill passed 261-157, including 39 Democrats voting for the bill. The action followed the administration’s announcement that it would allow individuals to keep canceled plans for one more year (see this week’s Newsline story, “Administration permits renewal of certain health plans,” for more information about the administration’s announcement).

Although it is unlikely the Senate will consider Upton’s bill, there are two Senate bills similarly focused on extending the availability of certain health plans. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has sponsored legislation that would allow individuals to keep non-compliant plans, but also would require insurance companies to notify policyholders about which parts of their policy do not meet minimum coverage standards, such as hospitalization, laboratory services, and prenatal care. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) has sponsored another bill that would allow individuals to keep their current coverage for up to two years; Landrieu’s bill sets no limit.

This week, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on the security of the healthcare.gov website. On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Health will have a hearing on public health bills, including reauthorization of the Poison Control Centers, treatment of traumatic brain injuries, newborn health screening, and others.

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