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Resolutions seek ERISA, student loan reforms

Honolulu—The Reference Committee on Legal, Legislative and Public Affairs Matters had an active health policy agenda to consider at annual session.

House-passed resolutions based on ADA delegate debate in the reference committee expand the Association's health care reform policy, and call for ERISA reforms and student loan tax breaks.

With Resolution 33H-2009 the House of Delegates directs the Association to "aggressively seek" legislation amending the 35-year-old ERISA law to provide new consumer safeguards and report to the 2010 House.

"Resolved, that the appropriate agencies of the ADA identify those features of ERISA that exempt some plans from state regulation to protect consumers," says Res. 33H-2009. "And be it further resolved that the ADA aggressively seek legislation to change the Act to create these consumer safeguards under federal law or allow regulation of these plans by the states."

The new policy statement, "Advocating for ERISA Reform," calls for a progress report to the 2010 House of Delegates.

The 1974 ERISA legislation governs employment-based retirement and health benefits in the private sector. The frequently debated law has come under congressional and judicial scrutiny and is a key part of the health care reform debate.

Section 514 of the ERISA law is commonly seen as a barrier for states in enacting health reform that affects the employer-based system, the Congressional Research Service told Congress in a recent report.

Res. 34H-2009 directs the Council on Government Affairs to "draft and lobby for legislation that aims to reduce student loan interest rates that are more consistent with current market driven rates, while maintaining the established interest rate ceiling, and allow for the consolidation of existing and future loans."

In related policy, Res. 35H-2009, the House of Delegates directed the Association to offer "as a member benefit" student loan contract analysis and to help inform students about the content of contracts at the request of an American Student Dental Association chapter or a postdoctoral direct member, or a pre-doctoral student accepted into a dental school program.