ACA: How Fast Things Change
I’ve been following the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since 2009, when it first started to become a potential legislative effort following President Obama’s election. While at times things seemed to be moving quickly, I’m hard pressed to recall some part of it that changed as rapidly as the Senate’s effort to repeal it. I wrote a blog post this morning about developments over the last 14 hours, and right before I hit the send button, news broke that made it obsolete.
When it’s all said and done, as of lunchtime today – July 18 – the Republican effort to repeal and replace the ACA has officially concluded. Just a short time ago, President Trump essentially conceded the fight, as too many Republican Senators came out against the Better Care Reconciliation Act – the Senate version of repeal and replace – and then again against just a flat repeal without an immediate replacement. They may vote on the later still, but it will likely be symbolic, to prove that at least they tried.
What happens now is hard to say. The White House is technically in a lawsuit with the House of Representatives over payments to carriers with respect to the ACA – and who knows how that will play out. The ACA is still the law of the land, and that means the administration, as well as the departments directly involved in the ACA (Health and Human Services, Medicare and the IRS) need to carry out and enforce the law. In today’s highly-partisan environment, the political theater will be interesting to watch!
That said, there are a few things that could be done. The House will try to change up the budget in such a way as to “prevent” enforcement of parts of the ACA (they’ve already done some preliminary steps along those lines). HHS could change some aspects of the Essential Health Benefit and minimum essential coverage definitions. The IRS could streamline some of the reporting functions under the employer mandate. The more the administration tinkers with the ACA, the harder it will be for them to say they’re letting it fail. In other words, I could see a hands-off approach being taken, waiting to see if the ship rights itself, or they could start nibbling at the edges to help employers and individuals, at the risk of having to take full responsibility for its continued success.
The next few days will probably shed more light on the next steps, and we’ll keep everyone updated. For now, the ACA remains in place – nothing has changed. If you were taking a wait and see approach before implementing ACA strategies, now’s the time to pull the trigger. Need help? We’re always available, and be sure to check back for the latest updates.
Information contained herein is not intended to constitute tax or legal advice and should not be used for purposes of evading or avoiding otherwise applicable regulatory responsibilities as issued by the federal or state government(s) and/or taxes owed under the Internal Revenue Code. You are encouraged to seek advice from your legal or tax advisor based on your circumstances.
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