Owens tries to patch gap in new health law

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens introduced a bill this week that would let children up to age 26 take advantage of their parents’ Health Savings Accounts.

Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh, said the Affordable Care Act “inadvertently excluded” HSA expenditures from a provision that allowed young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance through age 26. His legislation would let parents use HSA funds to cover health care services for their children.

“Allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance longer is good policy that can help many individuals get a better start on their adult life,” Owens said in a press release.

Owens told the Enterprise that the Internal Revenue Code currently prevents the use of HSA money for health care premiums for children under the age of 26.

“It was one of those things that was related to (the ACA) but not directly contained in,” he said.

Owens said the issue was raised to him by Ticonderoga town Supervisor Deb Melaney. He said town employees there, as in many towns in the North Country, have HSAs, and when the town went to pay for employees who had children younger than 26, they discovered the problem

“She raised that to us, and we moved forward with it,” Owens said.

Melaney said she fully supports Owens’ legislation, saying it would eliminate a discrepancy between Internal Revenue Service regulations and the Affordable Care Act.

“This bill … will resolve the issues that arose in offering a High Deductible Insurance policy to our employees, which was put in place to provide quality health insurance for employees while saving taxpayer money,” she said in the release.

Owens said he doesn’t foresee any issues getting his bill passed.

“We’re going to go around and hunt up support on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “But we think this is something that could be included in a larger piece of legislation because it has no impact on anything.”

Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or cmorris@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.