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John C.
Democrat DE 0

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  • Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014

    by Representative John C. Carney Jr.

    Posted on 2014-04-09

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    CARNEY. Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman for yielding, and thank him for his hard work on this very serious issue that affects both our States, Delaware and California.

    Madam Speaker, in a State of 900,000 people, losing 500 jobs is a serious blow. That is how many jobs we will lose in my home State of Delaware if we don't pass this legislation on the floor today.

    I am a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act. So are a lot of people in my State. But no law is perfect, and in a law as important, as complicated, and as technical as the Affordable Care Act, there are bound to be a few things that needed to be fixed.

    The Affordable Care Act was unintentionally written in a way that subjects U.S. expatriate health insurance plans to all the provisions of the ACA, which places a unique burden on these types of plans.

    Expatriate health insurance plans offer high-end, robust coverage to people working outside their home country, giving them access to global networks of health care providers. Individuals on the plan could be foreign employees working here in America, Americans working abroad, or, for instance, a German working in France.

    These employees can be NGO and foreign aid workers, pilots, cruise ship workers, and contractors sent to support our troops on deployment around the globe.

    Expatriate plans ensure that these employees have worldwide access to quality health care while working outside their home country.

    Several U.S. health insurance companies, Cigna, MetLife, Aetna, and United Health, offer expatriate health insurance plans. The employees who write those policies generally work here in the United States and make up several thousand U.S. jobs, including 500 in my State.

    These insurance companies compete with foreign insurance companies that also sell expatriate health insurance plans. The issue is, these foreign plans don't have to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

    Forcing U.S. expatriate insurance plans to comply with the Affordable Care Act gives their foreign competitors a distinct advantage. It makes plans written in the U.S. more expensive, which gives companies an incentive to purchase foreign-based plans instead.

    As a result, it makes more sense for U.S. expatriate insurers to move their business overseas, resulting in a potential loss of a few thousand jobs. In Delaware, that is going to mean 500 jobs. In California, it is 700.

    The good news is that we have bipartisan legislation here today that will level the playing field.

    The Obama administration has already recognized that it is burdensome and unnecessary to require expatriate insurance plans to comply with the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the administration has provided temporary regulatory relief for expat plans from nearly every Affordable Care Act provision that has gone into effect so far.

    The problem is this relief is only partial and only temporary. The administration can't make this relief permanent without a legislative fix.

    Our legislation clarifies that the Affordable Care Act does not apply to expatriate health insurance plans. It ensures that American expatriate insurance carriers are on a level playing field with their foreign competitors, so that American jobs stay here in America.

    You may hear on the floor today that this bill is about destroying the ACA, or changing our immigration laws, or giving a handout to insurance companies.

    But let me assure you, that is not what it is about. It is about jobs, pure and simple.

    If we don't pass this legislation today, people who have the expatriate plans, and their companies that offer them, will continue to do so, the same as they are today. The only difference is that the companies will buy these plans from insurance carriers that write the plans from abroad.

    That means those insurance jobs will go to foreign workers instead of workers in America. They will go to workers based in Singapore instead of those based in Delaware.

    I understand as well as anyone that the Affordable Care Act is a political weapon in a larger political war on both sides of the aisle. But that is not what this bill is about today.

    All I am asking today is that we take action so 500 hardworking Americans in my district don't become collateral damage in this partisan political fight. Let's call a temporary truce in that battle today to protect these jobs.

    I thank Congressman Nunes and Ways and Means staff for their hard work on these issues, and I want to thank the leadership on both sides of the aisle for recognizing this as a serious problem that needs to be fixed.

    I ask my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on H.R. 4414.

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