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What's Next for the American Health Care Act?



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The recent efforts by the U.S. House Republicans in March 2017 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) experienced a major setback, as the legislation failed to garner enough votes to pass. So, due to the withdrawal of the AHCA legislation, many are left asking what will come next. Whether new legislation will be introduced or not, here’s what you should know in the meantime to stay informed.

Will the ACA Eventually Be Replaced?

The ACA will continue as the law, at least for now. Compliance with the law is required until other official guidance is issued. While the withdrawal of the AHCA has created a pause by Congressional Republicans in their repeal and replace efforts, the debate about the ACA’s future is uncertain.

What About ACA Regulations?

Under the direction of a January 20th Executive Order, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has authority to introduce and recommend changes to current ACA regulations, which could be done to help stabilize the individual marketplace, offering potential regulatory relief. In addition, it’s possible that the Administration could adopt policies of non-enforcement of certain regulations, such as potentially directing the IRS not to enforce penalties related to specific ACA provisions.

Could Congressional Tax Reform Affect the ACA?

House Republican leaders, along with the Administration have mentioned that tax reform will be their next priority, which could lead to certain ACA taxes or penalties being repealed or changed as part of Congressional efforts to rewrite the Internal Revenue Code. It’s also possible that piecemeal legislation could be brought to the table for specific provisions, such as individual insurance market reforms. Even more, the Administration could likely defer decisions on certain health care reform provisions to the state level. Secretary Price recently invited governors to submit State Innovation Waivers (allowed under the ACA beginning in 2017), allowing states more authority in health care structure decisions.

What About Marketplaces for 2018?

Finally, while insurers will soon submit plans regarding if and where they will participate in public Marketplaces for 2018. There is current litigation in place about funding for cost-sharing subsidies for individuals covered through a Marketplace.