ACA Awaits Repeal or Repair
After his electoral win in November, President Donald Trump, buoyed by Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, vowed to act quickly to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Pres. Trump has now been in office for a month, and Republicans have not yet voted to repeal the ACA, and have not agreed upon a potential replacement, leaving the date of “repeal and replace” somewhere in the uncertain future. stethoscope
When the current Congress convened in January, it moved quickly to begin the “repeal” portion of “repeal and replace” by passing a budget resolution. Because the GOP does not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and cannot count on votes from Democrats to repeal the ACA, Republicans have decided to utilize a procedure known as budget reconciliation to dismantle it.
By using this procedure, Congress can pass a bill to repeal the ACA with a simple majority in the Senate. The reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution directed various committees to come up with proposals to repeal the ACA and submit them to the budget committees of the House and Senate. The reconciliation proposals would then be crafted into a bill by the budget committees, and the reconciliation bill would then need to pass both the House and the Senate before being signed by the President.
However, the provisions of the bill passed this way must target elements of the ACA that have a federal budgetary effect. Therefore, the ACA provisions that allow children to stay on their parents’ insurance through age 26 and the requirement that insurers cover preexisting conditions could not be eliminated using this procedure. Nor could the individual and employer mandates be eliminated in this way, but the amounts of the penalties could be reduced to zero, eliminating them in all but name.
Repeal or repair?
Republicans originally called for reconciliation proposals to be submitted to the budget committees by January 27, but that date has come and gone. Congressional Republicans continue to work on “repeal and replace,” but many of them have begun talking about “repair” of the ACA, rather than repeal, as they recognize the difficulty of legislating in this area.
In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on February 5, President Trump said that replacement could take until 2018.
O’Reilly asked “Can Americans in 2017 expect a new health care plan rolled out by the Trump administration this year?”
Trump responded, “We’re going to be putting it [the new healthcare plan] in fairly soon, I think that … by the end of the year at least the rudiments but we should have something within the year and the following year.”
Employer mandates remain in place
One thing that has become clear during the first month of the Trump presidency is that repealing the ACA is a much tougher prospect than many had thought. Despite the uncertainty with regard to the long-term future of the ACA, the current reality is that the ACA and the employer mandate remain the law of the land, and employers should continue to comply with the law’s requirements. Applicable Large Employers should file IRS Forms 1094 and 1095 no later than the March 31 if filing electronically, or February 28, if filing paper forms. Forms 1095-C must be furnished to employees no later than March 2. Large employers should continue to comply with the employer mandate, measure their full-time employees, and offer minimum essential coverage providing minimum value to those employees and their dependents.
Paycom will continue to monitor executive and Congressional action regarding the ACA closely and stands ready to help our clients maintain compliance.