HORAN Health Benefits Compliance Blog

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Senate Takes Major Step Forward in Repealing the Affordable Care Act

 January 12 2017     Diane Cross

The Senate took the first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act during a vote session that ended early this morning. As anticipated, the Senate passed a resolution for a reconciliation bill (budgeting tool), their first step in the repeal and replace process. Utilizing reconciliation provides the legislative tools necessary to repeal significant parts of the ACA. Republican leaders are working to determine what can be replaced through reconciliation, as reconciliation can only pertain to debt and spending. The bill still needs to be voted on by the House of Representatives, expected to take place as early as January 13, 2017. Once the resolution passes through the house, congressional committees will begin drafting legislation to actually repeal major components of the ACA.

While acting swift to repeal the ACA, there is yet to be a proposed replacement. Republicans do not have an agreement even among themselves on the content of legislation to replace the ACA, a timeline to vote on such legislation or its effective date. The reconciliation bill instructs Congress to come up with repeal legislation by January 27th, but that is unlikely to happen. Several congress members have expressed concern, noting the importance of doing it right and that developing a replacement will take more time. It is also anticipated that the replacement will be done in parts, rather than a comprehensive bill.

President-elect Trump has expressed that he will offer his own plan to repeal and replace the law simultaneously and that he will put forth that plan once Representative Tom Price (R-Georgia) is confirmed as Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Important to note – this vote does not repeal the ACA. This is just the first step in the process to achieve that goal. The actual vote to repeal the ACA could come as early as February.  But for now, the ACA remains and employers should continue to comply with its requirements.  Stay tuned – HORAN will continue to monitor and proactively report any regulatory changes impacting the employee benefits industry.