House passes bill loosening PPACA for expats

Backers of H.R. 4414 — a bill that exempts expatriate health care plans from some PPACA requirements —  got the bill through the House Tuesday with a 268-150 vote.

The Obama administration has come out against H.R. 4414, saying it would create loopholes in the tax code, but supporters persuaded 60 Democrats to vote for the bill.

Another 133 Democrats opposed the bill.

Republicans voted 208-17 in favor of passage.

The bill would classify the coverage from an "expatriate health plan" as "minimum essential coverage" -- meaning that the individuals with the coverage could use the coverage to avoid paying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act penalty to be imposed on many individuals who fail to have what PPACA define as MEC.

The bill would apply to an expatriate health plan set up in such a way that substantially all of the people covered work outside the United States.

To count as MEC, the plan would have to provide services other than emergency services or "excepted benefits," such as dental benefits and vision benefits. The sponsor of a group expatriate health plan would have to "reasonably believe" that the benefits provided were actuarially similar to, or better than, the benefits provided by the sponsor's domestic plan.

An amendment would require that a sponsor believe an expat MEC plan to offer coverage that meets federal "minimum value" standards.

If the expat MEC plan offered access to coverage for dependent children, it would have to offer access to dependent coverage for adult children up to age 26.

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