President issues executive order pushing HRA expansion

The President has issued an executive order that requires several agencies to consider proposing regulations that would, among other things, expand Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). HRAs are tax-advantaged, account-based arrangements that employers establish for employees to give employees more flexibility and choices regarding health care. Expanding the flexibility and use of HRAs would provide many Americans, including employees who work at small businesses, with more options for financing health care, according to the Administration.

Expanded HRAs

Specifically, within 120 days of the date of the order, the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services must consider proposing regulations or revising guidance, to the extent permitted by law and supported by sound policy, to increase the usability of HRAs, to expand employers’ ability to offer HRAs to employees, and to allow HRAs to be used in conjunction with nongroup coverage. In addition, The Secretaries are required to consider and evaluate public comments on any regulations proposed pursuant to the order.

Required reports

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor and the Federal Trade Commission, must provide a report within 180 days of the date of this order and every 2 years thereafter, to the President that: (a) details the extent to which existing state and federal laws, regulations, guidance, requirements, and policies fail to conform to the policies set forth in the order; and (b) identifies actions that states or the federal government could take in furtherance of those policies. (Presidential Executive Order: Promoting Health Care Choice and Competition Across the United States, October 12, 2017.)

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