Washington, DC – The following statement should be attributed to Annette Guarisco Fildes, president and CEO, The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC):
“ERIC welcomes The Business Group on Health’s 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy And Plan Design Survey as it underscores the impact COVID-19 has had on employer-sponsored health benefits and highlights how employers are pivoting to ensure that their employees and families have access to the care they need during this unprecedented time.
Many Americans are suffering economic hardship and have experienced increased, and unanticipated health care needs due to the pandemic. ERIC has worked with Congress and the Administration to help alleviate some of the pressures on employees by permitting employer plans to cover both patients’ COVID-19 tests and treatments; giving large employers the ability to offer telemedicine before the deductible without making health savings accounts taxable; and allowing large employers to extend a telehealth-only plan to employees, such as part-time and seasonal employees, or their dependents who otherwise would not be eligible for the employer’s health plan.
The Business Group’s survey highlights the growing importance of telemedicine, especially in the past few months. While federal and state governments have taken steps to expand telemedicine access, there is more to do. First, federal rules are needed to permanently allow employers to offer standalone telehealth benefits to all employees, not just those enrolled in the employers’ health plan. Second, we need national telehealth licensing reciprocity for medical practitioners in all states. The enhanced reciprocity that has occurred as a response to COVID-19 is helpful, but we need a permanent, national policy.
The Business Group’s survey also shines a spotlight on how the pandemic has driven home the high cost of prescription drugs and the practice of surprise medical billing as top concerns for employers. To lower the costs of prescription drugs, more and more large employers are turning to biosimilars as a solution. ERIC’s three-part study found that biosimilars offer significant cost-savings for both the employer and employee. Employers can implement innovative design practices to increase the uptake of biosimilars. At the same time, federal and state lawmakers have numerous policies to choose from to create a favorable environment for a competitive biologic marketplace, leading to lower-cost options for employers and patients. As for surprise billing, ERIC has been working with Congress, the Administration, and state governments to end this predatory practice. It is time for policymakers to stop dragging their feet and protect the American people from these unnecessary and outrageous bills.
As large employers look ahead, they will continue to design their health plans to ensure employees and their families have access to the best health care coverage and flexible options for the care they need. ERIC urges federal and state policymakers to empower employers to respond and react seamlessly to any health crisis that may arise.”