Smucker Statement on Problem Solvers Caucus Reaching Bipartisan Agreement on Health Care

July 31, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) issued the following statement after the Problem Solvers Caucus announced bipartisan priorities that would begin the process of stabilizing health insurance markets and provide relief to individuals, families, and businesses:

“While the Senate was unable to advance our goal of repealing and replacing Obamacare, we must continue our effort to relieve the American people of Obamacare’s burdensome costs, regulations, and uncertainty.

“The system is broken – that hasn’t changed in the last seven months – but simply letting American families’ health care collapse would be catastrophic and unacceptable. Just this year, residents of the 16th District saw premium increases as high as 40 percent – the highest in the state. Problem Solvers Caucus is presenting a path forward to stabilize the insurance marketplace, repeal onerous taxes and regulations, and ensure affordable, quality care. These areas of bipartisan agreement are critical components to start fixing our broken health care system.

“Washington has enough people unwilling to talk to each other. The American people are still waiting for, and deserve, solutions. The Problem Solvers Caucus is a group of bipartisan lawmakers more concerned with governing than obstructing. There are areas of agreement, and so we should start fixing our failing system.”

The bipartisan priorities can be found below.

“The last great hope for this country is that Republicans and Democrats prove they can work together,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Tom Reed. “We’ve locked arms to continue the fight for the American people, their families and their healthcare. Today, we are proud to deliver a set of bipartisan solutions to move health coverage forward so that our fellow Americans can also move ahead with restored hope in their own future and in the ability of Congress to resolve critical issues. We as a Caucus, will continue to work together with bipartisan dignity and commitment to the American people, who deserve stable healthcare and a functional Congress.”

“For too long, health care has been viewed as a fiercely partisan battleground, but the Problem Solvers Caucus has shown that it is possible to forge cooperation and fight through the gridlock. We all heard what John McCain said -- it's time for bipartisan solutions,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer. “And with premiums increasing by 25% this year in my home state of New Jersey, it’s clear this bipartisan effort to stabilize the health insurance marketplace and lower premiums for everyone is sorely needed. This plan will help small businesses and families, especially those with preexisting conditions, by making permanent cost sharing reductions while protecting Medicaid for seniors and those struggling with substance abuse disorders. I thank my colleagues for their hard work and good faith efforts that got us to this point, and I look forward to working with them going forward to improve our health care system.”

Problem Solvers Caucus Proposal to Stabilize the Individual Market

To stabilize the individual market and provide some immediate relief, we propose exploring​ realistic solutions including the following:

1. Bring cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments under the Congressional oversight and appropriations process, but ensure they have mandatory funding. CSR payments are an important part of helping households earning between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level afford to participate in the individual market. Bringing CSR payments under the appropriations process ensures that Congress can provide proper oversight.

2. Create a dedicated stability fund that states can use to reduce premiums and limit losses for providing coverage—especially for those with pre-existing conditions.

3. Adjust the employer mandate by raising the threshold on the requirement for employers to provide insurance under the employer mandate to businesses of 500 employees or more. The current employer mandate places a regulatory burden on smaller employers and acts as a disincentive for many small businesses to grow past 50 employees. Additionally, the definition of “full time” under the employer mandate should indicate that a full-time work week is 40 hours.

4. Repeal the medical device tax. This tax adds a 2.3% sales tax on medical device supplies. The costs of the tax are passed on to consumers and it should be repealed.

5. Provide technical changes and clear guidelines for states that want to innovate on the exchange or enter into regional compacts to improve coverage and create more options for consumers.

  • Section 1332 of the ACA allows states to innovate and share in health savings while offering strong plans with all essential health benefits. Some states have begun to experiment in this regard, with great potential for success. However, some technical legislative changes and/or revised HHS guidance may improve attractiveness to additional states.
  • Similarly, Section 1333 of the ACA allows states to enter into Health Care Choice Compacts, which allow insurers to sell across state lines in participating states. However, HHS has not yet released regulations on Section 1333. HHS should issue clear guidelines and work with states to spur innovation and bring more choice and competition to the market while protecting consumers.