Senate Passes Bipartisan Fix to the Affordable Care Act to Save Jobs in Delaware

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Saturday night to approve the omnibus spending package, which included bipartisan legislation written by Congressman John Carney (D-Del.) and Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) to improve the Affordable Care Act, help protect jobs in Delaware, and ensure access to quality health insurance coverage for expatriates working in the U.S. and abroad.  The legislation – also led by Rep. David Nunes (R-Calif.) in the House and Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the Senate – clarifies how the Affordable Care Act applies to expatriate health insurance plans, ensuring that U.S. based expatriate insurance carriers can compete on a level playing field with their foreign competitors and that American jobs stay here in America. In February 2014, Cigna implemented a hiring freeze at its Delaware facility and has warned of potential layoffs should this legislation not be signed into law. Cigna employs 500 people in Delaware who write the plans affected by this legislation. The Delaware delegation has been working for the past three and a half years to ensure these jobs are protected.

“For more than three years, Congressman Carney and Senator Coons have been my steadfast and tireless partners as we worked together to improve the Affordable Care Act and its treatment of expatriate health insurance plans,” Sen. Carper said. “Earlier this week, Congressman Carney led us to a tremendous victory in the House of Representatives and, today, we pushed this important fix across the finish line in the Senate. This bill ensures that American insurance carriers can compete on a level playing field with their foreign competitors and will likely save hundreds of American jobs in Delaware and even more across the country. I was proud to author a number of key provisions in the health care reform law; however I’ve long said it is not written in stone, and it’s not perfect, so we should work together to make improvements where they are needed. That’s exactly what we’ve done with this common-sense fix for expatriate insurance plans. I’m hopeful that the bipartisan, bicameral cooperation displayed in successfully passing this legislation serves as a blueprint for members of Congress to work together on other common sense legislation moving forward‎.”

“The Affordable Care Act has already done a tremendous amount of good for a lot of Delawareans, but it isn’t perfect and it needs to be repaired,” Senator Coons said. “As we discover mistakes that need to be fixed and opportunities to make it work better for even more Americans, it is Congress’ responsibility to act. An error written into the law pertaining to specialized insurance plans for Americans who work abroad threatened the viability of American-issued expatriate health plans in the global market and jeopardized the jobs of the more than 500 Delawareans who service those plans. Our legislation levels the playing field for these American companies and their foreign competitors, ensuring Cigna will keep these jobs in Delaware. It has taken more than three years of relentless work by Congressman Carney, Senator Carper, Governor Markell, and me, who have met hundreds of times and worked to develop legislation to narrowly and responsibly fix the problem. It was because of the bipartisan, bicameral support that we methodically built for this bill that the leadership of both parties in both chambers agreed to include this measure in the omnibus spending bill that the Senate passed tonight. This is an important victory for our state and I am proud to have been able to help.” 

Cigna employees in Delaware sell, write, manage and service expatriate health insurance plans, which offer robust coverage to people working outside their home country, giving them access to a global network 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. Expatriates can be NGO and foreign aid workers, pilots, cruise ship workers, and contractors sent to support our troops on deployment around the globe.

Inadvertently, the Affordable Care Act was written in a way that subjects U.S. expatriate health insurance plans to all the provisions of the health care reform law, which placed a unique burden on these types of plans, given that their foreign competitors are not subjected to the same requirements. Several U.S. health insurance companies — Cigna, MetLife, Aetna, and United Health – compete with foreign insurers to offer expatriate health insurance plans to globally mobile workforce. Since foreign insurers are not required to comply with the Affordable Care Act, they often had an unfair advantage over Cigna and other U.S. health insurers.  This bill helps to remove this unfair advantage for foreign insurers and to ensure that U.S. and foreign expatriate health insurers can compete on a level playing field.