House passes bipartisan fix to health law

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 29, 2014 at 4:05 pm •  Published: April 29, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House approved bipartisan legislation Tuesday to exempt U.S. health plans sold to expatriate workers from having to comply with requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

The measure, which passed 268-150, is aimed at helping U.S. insurance companies like Cigna and MetLife that are at a competitive disadvantage with foreign firms that do not have to comply with ACA requirements such as free preventive care and a ban on lifetime coverage limits. Sixty Democrats joined most Republicans in voting "yes," while 17 Republicans opposed the legislation.

There is widespread agreement on the need for a fix under the health law for U.S.-written expatriate plans that can be sold to Americans working overseas and foreigners working here or elsewhere. But senior Democrats and the White House opposed the bill that was advanced Tuesday, saying it contained deal-killing loopholes, including opening the possibility that legal permanent U.S. residents could be sold expatriate plans that don't meet the basic requirements of the health law.

"We do need to fix the expat issue, but not by unfixing health care reform," Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said.

Supporters of the bill said that after working on the issue for years it was time to bring it to a vote, and further changes could be made as it moved through the Senate. They said the measure was needed to protect thousands of U.S. jobs that would disappear if U.S. companies that issue expatriate health insurance can't compete with foreign firms.