By Alisa Huth Gifford
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains the law of the land, despite several attempts within Congress to pass a repeal bill under the 2017 budget reconciliation process. This process would allow Congressional Republicans to pass legislation without any Democratic support; however, any changes made to the ACA under this process are limited to those with budgetary impact on the Federal deficit. To date, this process resulted in the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House in May. Thereafter, the effort moved to the Senate where alternative bills, such as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), were debated but ultimately failed to receive the required number of votes. Cigna has been closely monitoring ACA activity in Washington D.C and will provide updates as developments unfold.
As the debate around whether to repeal, replace, or modify the ACA continues, it is unclear what Congress’s next steps will be when they return from recess in September. Congress could continue to pursue the repeal and replace strategy under the budget reconciliation process, propose changes to the ACA through comprehensive tax reform legislation, or attempt a bipartisan effort to “fix” the ACA. No matter which path it pursues, an identical bill must pass both the House and the Senate before the President can sign it into law.
Amid this current state of uncertainty, the ACA remains in effect and employers should continue to comply with all requirements of the ACA. This means, for example, ongoing compliance with the employer mandate, payment of existing ACA taxes and fees, adherence to all ACA reporting requirements and preparing for the Cadillac tax to take effect in 2020. Other ACA provisions that affect employers and could be the focus of future legislative and regulatory activity include:
- Essential Health Benefits & cost-sharing limits
- Wellness program rules
- Nondiscrimination requirements
- Summary of Benefits and Coverage
- HRA, HSA and FSA parameters
Modifications to any ACA provisions affecting employers could be achieved through the legislative channels outlined above. There is also the potential for regulatory action, relief, and non-enforcement or even executive orders that could affect employers’ responsibilities and obligations under the current law. Despite any ACA changes coming out of Washington, however, we can expect that employees are going to continue to look to the employer-based system for innovative, affordable, and quality health care benefits.
Cigna is committed to helping employers stay compliant with the ACA and successfully navigate in this highly regulated environment. Please check out our suite of complimentary resources on our website, InformedonReform.com. You can also visit YourACARoadmap.com for a personalized checklist of employer responsibilities throughout the year.