Republicans Introduce Range of Bills to Repeal ACA

GOP Congress hits the ground running with several competing measures

By By Allison R. Klausner and Marjorie Martin, © Conduent HR Services Jan 11, 2017
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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be on the chopping block, but the path and timing are yet to be determined. Nevertheless, repealing and replacing the ACA, in whole or in part, is among the highest priority for congressional Republicans.

During the first week of the new Congress, a variety of bills and proposals relating to the dismantling of the ACA were introduced and discussed.

Senate Budget Resolution

Introduced by Budget Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the resolution sets the stage in support of Republicans' aim to repeal and replace the ACA. Specifically, it instructs certain congressional committees to draft reconciliation bills that include provisions relating to the ACA. The bills will likely identify the provisions to be repealed as well as the timing of the repeal, but not the substance of a replacement plan. The draft bills are expected not later than January 27 and would be combined and voted on shortly thereafter.

[The Senate approved the repeal resolution as part of the budget for fiscal year 2017 (S.Con.Res.3), passed on Jan. 12 in a 51-48 vote along party lines; the House approved the budget measure the next day, 227-198.]

House Republican Study Committee Bill

The American Health Care Reform Act of 2017 was released in draft by the House Republican Study Committee but not yet introduced. The bill would:

  • Fully repeal the ACA effective Jan. 1, 2018.

  • Eliminate the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance and replace it with a standard deduction, available to any individual with qualifying coverage, purchased through employment or otherwise.

  • Expand the use of health savings accounts (HSAs) by allowing larger contributions, expanded expense reimbursement and increased benefits.

The bill does not impact amounts that may be deducted as a business expense. Thus, to the extent otherwise permitted under the Internal Revenue Code, employers could deduct costs associated with providing health coverage to employees and their families as a business expense.

The Republican Study Committee has provided a two page summary and section by section summary of the bill.

Other Legislation

Various other House and Senate bills introduced the first week of January would:

  • Repeal the ACA in full. H.R. 175, ObamaCare Repeal Act.

  • Repeal the 40 percent deductible excise tax on high-cost plans (the so-called Cadillac tax). H.R. 173, The Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act.

  • Repeal the individual and employer health insurance mandates. H.R. 285, Healthcare Tax Relief and Mandate Repeal Act.

  • Expand HSAs by permitting the reimbursement of health insurance premiums and increasing the maximum allowable contribution. H.R .247 and S. 28, Health Savings Account Expansion Act.

Past as Prologue

In January 2016, President Obama vetoed H.R. 3762, a reconciliation package with a number of provisions that would have dismantled the ACA. Among other things, it would have repealed the Cadillac tax and eliminated the individual mandate and employer shared responsibility penalties.

This vetoed bill may serve as the template for a reconciliation bill to be introduced later this month.

Any ACA repeal legislation introduced via the budget reconciliation process will require only 51 Senate votes (rather than a supermajority of 60 votes). As such, with Republicans holding 52 Senate seats, the bill should pass easily through the Senate absent some senators crossing party lines.

Allison Klausner and Marjorie Martin are principals with Conduent HR Services, an HR consultancy based in New York City. This article is excerpted with minor edits from a longer piece posted on the Conduent website. © 2017 Conduent Business Services LLC. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.

Related SHRM Online Articles:

Experts Predict ACA Repeal-and-Replace Prospects, SHRM Online Benefits, January 2016

Top 7 Workplace Legal Trends for 2017, SHRM Online Workplace Law, January 2017

How Tom Price Could Transform Employer Health Coverage, SHRM Online Benefits, December 2016

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