As the deadline for a report on ACA reconciliation came and past Friday, employers are still advised to continue with the status quo until Congressional leadership can materialize legislation.
Congressional Republicans emerged this week from a retreat aimed at forging agreement on how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with little new clarity on the details. No precise plan came out of the meeting because “we are still developing what this thing is going to look like,” Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, told reporters Thursday. Republicans adopted a budget resolution earlier this month that set a target of Friday to deliver a repeal plan.
As such, employers should be taking a wait-and-see approach, and, in the meantime, continue to comply with the ACA, experts say.
“For now, employers should stay the course, but stay tuned as we await how and when the agencies, particularly the IRS, choose to exercise discretion,” says Joy Napier-Joyce, principal and leader of the employee benefits group at labor & employment law firm Jackson Lewis P.C.
Still, many expect significant changes to the law — eventually.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says the president is eager to get moving on this agenda. “Already we’ve hit the ground running taking the first steps to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Ryan says.
Ryan told reporters at that retreat in Philadelphia that Republicans could “make good” by August on devising aspects of the party’s healthcare promise and other top policies they campaigned on in 2016, such as a tax overhaul. But he also stopped short of promising completion of anything by August, according to Bloomberg reports.
Already, a number of steps have been taken to begin the unraveling the massive healthcare law. On his first day in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing agencies like Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor, to utilize their authorities under the law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the ACA, and prepare to afford the states more flexibility and control to create a freer and open healthcare market.
Additionally, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this month aimed at killing the widely unpopular Cadillac tax.
“In terms of reporting requirements, I think employer and employer plans need to continue biz as usual,” Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy at the National Business Group on Health, said of the order.
Additionally, Napier-Joyce adds, much of the requirements under the employer mandate have been formalized through statute and regulation, so in order to effectively and completely reverse course, formal processes will need to be followed, which will in turn take time.
“As we are all seeing firsthand, the ACA is a very complex, entrenched statute and its unravelling will have many widespread effects that will affect employers both in direct and indirect ways,” Napier-Joyce says. “The way in which it is unraveled will be of utmost importance to employers.”
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