Is the ACA Going Away?
Now That We’ve Caught Our Breath….Is the ACA Going Away?
Only time will tell if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be long-lived, changed into something different, or ceases to be altogether. Perhaps the reality that employers are now starting to see fines for non-compliance will stir up a few healthy debates. What we do know for certain, though, is that changes to this 2010 Act have already arrived. The first change began a year ago, on President Trump’s first day in office.1
On January 20, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order to try to mitigate the fiscal burden the ACA puts on the economy, by directing the various agencies to, in effect, hinder the massive regulatory “beast” that sometimes comes with ACA compliance. 1
Later in January 2017 and into February 2017, more changes came. The funding for outreach campaigns and the advertising that went with it, was yanked by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The IRS, in turn, said it would not reject tax returns that did not specify whether the taxpayer was insured or not; this was a 180° turn from the Obama Administration’s plan. And what began in February 2017, but was not finalized until April 2017, was a move to cut in half the length of the 2018 enrollment period under the ACA. Some say by doing this, it resulted in approximately half a million fewer people enrolled over the previous year.1
Fast forward to February 2018 and we see that there are 20 states who have now filed suit against the Trump Administration to eliminate the ACA. These 20 states claim the ACA is unconstitutional now that the Individual Mandate has been axed (effective 2019). In opposition, are at least 15 attorneys general (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia) who have now joined together to stop the lawsuit by the 20 states, aiming to prove the ACA remains constitutional. These states would stand to lose Medicaid Expansion and Subsidy funding by the government, if the ACA is repealed.2, 3 And so it goes.
Whether the ACA finally sings its “swan song” remains to be seen, but few would argue that there are key areas, borne out of the ACA, which are relevant and should continue to be discussed. We need lower prices on health care; Marketplace health plans are expected to increase by over 30% next year. Consumers should have the ability to shop across state lines, increasing competition and effectively lowering health insurance premiums. Prevent the pre-existing condition clause from ever coming back. Revamp or eliminate subsidies (the economic burden is astounding). Finally, give more power to the states to decide what works and what does not, regarding health care coverage for folks in their states.
Until next month!
Director of HR & Benefits