Op-Ed from Wall Street Journal on How Health Care Legislation Will Change ERISA

From the Wall Street Journal–“Repealing ERISA.” Excerpt:

ERISA allows employers that self-insure–that is, those large enough to build their own risk pools and pay benefits directly–to offer uniform plans across state lines. This lets thousands of businesses avoid, for the most part, the costly federal and state regulations on covered treatments, pricing, rate setting and so on. It also gives them flexibility to design insurance to recruit and retain workers in a competitive labor market. Roughly 75% of employer-based coverage is governed by ERISA’s freedom of purchase rules.

Goodbye to all that. The House bill says that after a five-year grace period all ERISA insurance offerings will have to win government approval–both by the Department of Labor and a new health choices commissioner who will set federal standards for what is an acceptable health plan. This commissar–er, commissioner–can fine employers that don’t comply and even has suspension of enrollment powers for plans that he or she has vetoed, until satisfied that the basis for such determination has been corrected and is not likely to recur.

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