The ACA Is Here to Stay - for Now
Well, that was an interesting week! After watching more than 20 hours of live feed from the Senate floor this week as they deliberated the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, I’ve learned a few things. But first things first.
The Republican effort to eliminate the ACA and replace it with a different plan has, at long last, come to an end. At least, for now. After failing to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act – the Senate’s repeal and replace option, and the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act – a rehash of the 2015 repeal bill that would give Republicans two years to come up with a replacement – the Senate moved on to a last-ditch effort. Dubbed the Healthcare Freedom Act, it was introduced late in the evening of July 27 and voted on early in the morning of July 28. That vote failed, with three Republican Senators – John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – voting no. The Republican margin in the Senate could only allow two Republican no votes and still pass the bill.
That means for now, the ACA remains the law of the land. It does appear the Senate will now move on to tax reform, though theoretically it remains possible that efforts to repeal the ACA could be revisited down the road. At this point, though, the calendar is working against the Republicans and specifically President Trump, who’s in need of a big political win soon. Tax reform is probably the best chance to secure that win.
For employers, this means quite literally nothing has changed. The employer mandate is still in full effect. Tracking full-time employees, offering them minimum value, affordable coverage and completing the annual 1095C reporting process remain the top priorities for ACA compliance. The administration will now have to take the lead on any changes to the ACA, which will be regulatory, not legislative. We’ll continue to monitor the regulations and let you know of developments there. There will be some movement, as the individual market does need help, but those changes will likely not directly affect employers dramatically. Stay on target with your ACA compliance, and certainly reach out to us with any questions.
Back to lessons learned from this week about the Senate. The entire process, from Tuesday’s vote to start the debate, through the many amendments offered and voted on, to finally the last vote this morning, was at times fascinating, tedious, frustrating, and in the end, rewarding.
- Fascinating – Realizing there’s a method to the madness in the arcane procedures.
- Tedious – If I hear any more shouted opinions about how the ACA works/doesn’t work using, at best, talking points taken out of context, I may have to run for Senate myself to straighten things out.
- Frustrating – see tedious above. Plus, filibustering seems to be rather pointless?
- Rewarding – like it or not, the Founding Fathers set up our government to work this way – it’s not efficient, it’s not easy to deal with and its rare anyone ever gets everything they want, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. And it was good to see that process in action.
So that’s it for now! If you’ve been following along during this whole process that started in January, it’s time to catch your breath, reevaluate your ACA compliance efforts and prep for 2018. As usual, contact us with any issues.
For more compliance updates, be sure to join us for Assurance University Symposium. I'll be speaking on the Affordable Care Act and how it affects your business. I’ll also assess the ‘disruption’ caused by the current political landscape and discuss what should be top of mind for employers in regards to the ACA.
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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