Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen testified before Congress this week, urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would give states needed flexibility to protect small business owners who offer health insurance to their employees.

Spokesperson Jennifer McKee said Lindeen, who is president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners spoke before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in favor of the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees, or PACE Act.

"The Affordable Care Act redefined “small group” insurance from insurance for a business with 1-50 employees to a business with up to 100 employees," Mckee said. "That regulation goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016 and requires businesses with between 51 and 100 employees to offer insurance that meets new requirements. Those changes include new benefit requirements and other regulations that could drive up costs for employees."

McKee said the PACE Act would allow states to define what “small group” insurance means in each state.

"States know best the unique insurance dynamics at play in each state and she warned that in the absence of the PACE Act, a “series of market disruptions could occur," she said. "She urged Congress to act quickly on the bill as most employers need final rates and benefit information on available plans by late September as they begin finalizing their benefit packages for their employees for 2016."

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