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Beginning in 2017, the Republican majority in Congress and the Trump administration had made repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a top priority, and in March 2017 the House GOP leadership introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as their designated bill to begin to "repeal and replace" the ACA. But party leaders have been unable to secure enough votes to pass the measure in the House, leaving the ACA in place for now.
Until the ACA and its implementing regulations are changed, either by a replacement law or through targeted legislative actions or regulatory adjustments, employers subject to the ACA must comply with its many coverage and administrative requirements.
House Republicans Withdraw ACA Replacement Bill;
Affordable Care Act to Remain 'Law of the Land'
House GOP leaders, with support from President Donald Trump, withdrew the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from further consideration on March 24, in a dramatic acknowledgement that they had been unable to find sufficient votes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
"Obamacare will remain the law of the land," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said during a press conference shortly after the bill was pulled. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."
However, there were subsequent reports that Republican lawmakers were continuing to work behind the scenes to see if a compromise on the AHCA might yet be reached by the party's conservatives and moderates. How much to read into these efforts remained unclear.
Expect a Push to Tax Health Benefits, Political Watchers WarnAs part of efforts to reform the tax code—or under a back-from-the-dead effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act—employers could be taxed on group health benefits provided to workers, or employees could be taxed on benefits they've received.
As ACA Remains Law, Focus Turns Back to Compliance and Regulatory ReliefIf GOP efforts to revive the American Health Care Act fail, the ACA and its implementing rules could still see modest changes through targeted legislative actions and regulatory adjustments. In the meantime, employers subject to the ACA should continue complying with the law's wide-ranging coverage mandates and employee tracking and reporting requirements, benefit attorneys advise.
House Passes Association Health Plans for Small BusinessesThe same week that saw the failure of the House GOP's bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, another health care measure—with far more limited aims—was brought to the floor and approved, although its Senate prospects are murky.
Would Proposed Law Require Genetic Testing for Employees? Sponsors of the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act say it would clarify conflicting rules on incentives for employees to participate in voluntary health screenings. Opponents describe the bill in far more sinister terms, claiming it would compel employees to undergo genetic testing.
GOP's Health Care Bill Exposed an HSA Political Divide Expanding the use of health savings accounts (HSAs) was a cornerstone of the Republicans' American Health Care Act, and that reinvigorated a debate between those who see HSAs are the key to health care consumerism and those who dismiss HSAs as benefiting only the wealthy.
Relief Extended for 'Grandmothered' Small Group Health PlansThe Trump administration is allowing small business an extra year to renew certain older plans that don't comply with the ACA and that don't fall under the open-ended exemption for grandfathered plans.
IRS to Accept Tax Returns Lacking Health Care Status; Employer Reporting UnchangedAlthough the IRS has announced it will not reject taxpayers' 2016 returns that are missing health coverage information, employers still must distribute 1095 forms to employees and report employee health coverage to IRS, as deadlines loom.
How Trump's First Executive Order Could Affect Employer Health PlansPresident Donald Trump's Jan. 20 executive order directing federal agencies that oversee the Affordable Care Act to waive or delay burdensome taxes, penalties and regulations could affect employer plans' mandates and fees, but won't do so immediately.
New Law Lets Small Employers Use Stand-Alone HRAsEnactment of the 21st Century Cures Act lets small businesses use health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to fund employees who buy individual plans on the open market.
IRS Delays Employers' Deadline to Distribute ACA Reporting Form 1095 to EmployeesThe IRS is giving employers an additional 30 days to distribute the Affordable Care Act's tax year 2016 information-reporting forms to employees, extending the deadline from Jan. 31, 2017, to March 2. But the due dates for filing Forms 1094 and 1095 with the IRS remain unchanged: Feb. 28 for paper/mail submissions or March 31 for electronic filing.
SHRM Government Affairs
Health Care Public Policy and Advocacy Updates
For additional information on implementing the Affordable Care Act, SHRM members can contact the
SHRM Knowledge Center.
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