Preserved universities’ ability to continue offering subsidized health insurance plans to graduate students. Regulation of Graduate Student Health Insurance Plans– When the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor jointly released regulatory guidance on graduate student health insurance plans (SHIP), many university clients were concerned that the interpretation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would hinder their ability to provide high-quality affordable health insurance to graduate students. Many in the higher education community were worried about the Departments’ interpretation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and their questioning the legality of providing subsidized student health insurance coverage to their graduate students.  Lewis-Burke tailored unique advocacy plans for two vastly different clients.

For one client, Lewis-Burke identified meeting targets at the three agencies responsible for the guidance. Lewis-Burke also organized a call with twelve representatives from the agencies and arranged for the client to meet with congressional staff. Congressional delegation members agreed to work with their colleagues and the university on a legislative solution.

For another client, Lewis-Burke coordinated with appropriate contacts on campus to identify the cost per student and impacts of transitioning graduate students off the graduate student health insurance plan. Lewis-Burke met with the members of the client’s congressional delegation to discuss specific concerns and proposed either a legislative solution or a reassessment of the tri-agencies’ interpretation of the law. Both senators in the delegation joined a Dear Colleague letter to the tri-agencies following Lewis-Burke’s lobbying efforts.  Lewis-Burke corresponded with members of the House delegation to answer additional questions and coordinated a meeting with representatives from Lewis-Burke, a higher education association, and the congressional office to allay these concerns.

Finally, after a year-long advocacy effort during which Lewis-Burke engaged with the higher education community, federal agencies and Congress, the Departments of HHS, Treasury, and Labor announced an indefinite extension of the enforcement relief period for graduate SHIP under the ACA. This announcement preserved universities’ ability to continue offering subsidized health insurance plans to graduate students for at least the 2017-2018 academic year.