The ACA Repeal and Replacement effort appears to have concluded without success. The Republican “American Health Care Act” or AHCA failed to earn enough Republican votes to pass out of the House and was pulled by Speaker Paul Ryan at President Trump’s behest. It's a stunning reversal for President Trump and ensures the ACA will remain the law of the land for the foreseeable future. In a press conference following the House procedure that was ended before the vote occurred, Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed that Congress is now moving on with the Republican agenda and tackling tax reform next.
That means the ACA remains fully in place, and employers need to continue to adhere to all aspects of the Employer Mandate. Identifying full-time employees, offering coverage to at least 95% of full-time employees, making sure coverage meets the minimum value standard and reporting those results on the IRS 1094 and 1095 forms are all still requirements employers will need to comply with.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price does face a daunting task of stabilizing the individual and small group insurance markets, now while remaining within the confines of the existing law, so it's likely we'll see new regulatory guidance that will require adjustments. Almost certainly those will be “tweaks” more than outright changes to the law. Congress can (and probably will have to) step in as well with changes, but those will need to be bipartisan in nature. The “reconciliation” tool the AHCA relied on – which only needed a simple majority vote in the Senate – will not be available to use in the short-term when those changes will need to be made.
It's been an interesting few months watching this entire process. Congressional Republicans worked hard to craft a plan that maintained all the popular aspects of the ACA, but eliminated the unpopular ones. In the end, however, that proved to be an impossible task, and with the 2018 mid-term elections already on everyone’s minds, there simply was too much risk voting for a compromise bill. What remains to be seen is how well the Exchanges fare in the next year given current market conditions. Assurance will be evaluating the situation and providing additional guidance in the weeks to come. In the meantime, continue your ACA compliance efforts and contact your account team with any questions.