The Midterm Madness Comes To An End: What it Means for You
It was the equivalent of March Madness for political junkies, and like the hoops version, the 2018 midterm election had its share of surprises. Let’s look at what happened and what it means for employers and their group health plan offerings.
Republicans gained additional seats in the Senate, though not enough for a supermajority, while losing enough seats in the House to relinquish leadership there to the Democrats. There’s been a lot of talk about what Democrats would like to do now that they’re back in charge of the House and can start on many of their efforts. However, their ability to pass any new laws will be curtailed by the Senate, which is now well aligned with the Trump Presidency. Republicans will have the same issue – they'll be able to introduce bills in both the House and Senate but the ability to get those bills out of the House will be difficult under Democratic control.
For the near term, employers can look forward to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) sticking around as a law for at least the next two years – it's unlikely that any ACA repeal effort will get introduced in the House, let alone make it to the Senate. As we’ve seen recently, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be action on the ACA in the form of regulatory change – the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) still wields great control over the bulk of the ACA, and HHS is an Executive Branch agency controlled by the President. Continue to expect more regulatory changes like the recent association health plans, short term medical plans and HRA guidance.
Healthcare was a major talking point for Democrats in the run-up to the midterm election, and time will tell whether it played any major factor in the election. The Democrats were hoping that it would help propel them to a much higher majority in the House but that proved to not be the case. “Medicare for All” plans are still astronomically expensive, and in the two years the Democrats have in the House before the next presidential election it’s more likely they’ll focus on the President and his actions rather than try to craft something that massive which would be dead on arrival in the Senate.
Where does that leave us?
Basically, a gridlocked Congress. President Trump’s agenda will have to slow down in the face of Democratic opposition which means work on new immigration and tax laws will slow down as well. However, with only a slim Democratic lead in the House, the opportunity for bipartisan progress is there. As an example, this may be a good opportunity for both sides to come together to eliminate the ACA’s Cadillac Tax, which there has been bipartisan support for in the past.
So stay tuned, enjoy the respite from all the robocalls, and we’ll keep you updated on developments in DC. If you have any questions, please reach out to your Assurance representative.
- Post-Election ACA
- Trump Takes First Administrative Step to Repeal and Replace the ACA
- ACA: Here We Go Again
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