On Thursday, February 16, following an impromptu press conference during which President Trump announced that ACA repeal and replacement plans would be unveiled early in March, three pieces of replacement legislation actually did get published. They are:
- Congressman Greg Walden’s Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion bill, which essentially echoes the ACA’s pre-existing condition exclusion rules – which is to say, employers and insurers generally cannot impose pre-existing exclusions on individuals applying for health insurance.
- Senator’s Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio’s Health Savings Account Expansion bill, which modifies several existing HSA rules to make HSAs more accessible and easier to use.
- Congressman Sam Johnson’s Association Health Plans bill, which describes rules associations would have to follow in order to be able to offer health insurance to their members. Unlike the other two pieces of legislation which merely tweak existing rules, this bill introduces largely new rules in order to authorize association health plans.
These new pieces of legislation represent the first step in the process of actually crafting a replacement law. They need to be reviewed by the respective houses of Congress, modified, re-reviewed and scored by the Congressional Budget Office before they could actually be considered true proposed legislation – at which point they will then have to get reviewed again, scored again and then voted on. If approved, they would then get sent to the President for signature into law. In short, there’s a long ways to go for these rules, and what’s in these bills today could easily be very different at the end of that process.
That said, these are the first concrete indications of the direction the new Congress wants to go with healthcare reform. We will review these bills in detail and provide additional comments as to how they may impact your business. In the meantime, the ACA remains in full-effect and employers need to continue to comply with it.