Health Savings Accounts
H.R. 1270, the Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2015, is an attempt to weaken the Affordable Care Act. H.R. 1270 expands Health Savings Accounts (HSA) by increasing the annual contribution limit. The current family contribution limit is $6750. This legislation would increase the contribution limit to $13,100. The money put into HSAs is pre-tax so increasing the contribution limit widens a tax loophole. This would cost almost $20 billion over ten years. H.R. 1270 also expands the medications eligible for reimbursement through a HSA to include all over the counter medications. The ACA limits reimbursements to medications that have been prescribed by a doctor. The Administration has stated that H.R. 1270 will be vetoed. Rep. Reed voted in favor.
Federal Employee Regulations
H.R. 4361, the Federal Information Systems Safeguards Act, is a combination of 7 bills that focus on the federal workforce. It prohibits almost all federal agencies from finalizing rules during the last two months of the Obama Administration regardless of what stage in the process they are in. So, for example, if a federal agency is close to implementing a rule that has been developed over a long period of time, that agency must delay completing work on the rule. H.R. 4361 makes changes to employee probationary periods and due process regulations governing senior employees. The probationary period for new employees is currently one year. This legislation extends that period to two years. If a “formal training” period is required for a position, the probationary period does not begin until training has ended. H.R. 4361 also limits due process protections for senior employees. If they are removed from their positions, they have just seven days to file an appeal and an administrative judge must issue a ruling within 21 days. The ruling cannot be appealed and if the judge takes longer than 21 days, then the actions of the supervisor will stand. The Administration has stated that H.R. 4361 will be vetoed. Rep. Reed voted in favor.
H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, would cut funding for the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other agencies. The legislation also contains provisions making it harder for the IRS to fulfill some of its duties relating to the Affordable Care Act. H.R. 5485 diminishes the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of Financial Research (OFR) by bringing them under the regular annual appropriations process. On passage, Rep. Reed voted in favor.
Thank you for the explanations of these bills in understandable language.
While Reed’s votes for these three pieces of legislation aren’t surprising, and though Reed never explains his votes to constituents; he also never speaks or writes about the important legislation that languish in Congress – the Budget, the Zika bill, Gun Control regulation, and others.