Shortly after 1:30 a.m. today, the Senate voted 49-51 to reject the Health Care Freedom Act(HCFA), a “skinny repeal” of the ACA. The pared-down version was attempted after previous efforts to pass a more sweeping repeal of the law have failed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began floating the idea early in the week before ultimately releasing the text of the bill at 10 p.m. Thursday, just two hours before the vote. Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and John McCain (AZ) joined all Democrats in voting no, while all other Republicans voted in favor. With the failure of this vote, congressional Republicans will no longer be able to use the budget reconciliation process to repeal provisions of the ACA until the next fiscal year and will instead have to move legislation under regular order that would require 60 votes for passage in the Senate. More details on the activity in the Senate this week will be in today’s Washington Update.
NAHU supports efforts that could potentially attract bipartisan support from legislators to help stabilize the marketplaces. We have long advocated for making piecemeal changes to the ACA that can achieve bipartisan support and therefore pass Congress and be signed into law. NAHU has been able to garner bipartisan support on a number of smaller changes to the ACA, including a delay to the Cadillac/excise tax and Health Insurance Tax, and repeal of the small-group expansion and auto-enrollment provisions, the law’s 1099 requirement, the long-term care CLASS Act and the $2,000/4,000 deductible cap. Without a clear plan for moving a larger package to repeal and replace significant portions of the ACA, NAHU will continue to advocate for changes to the law where lawmakers can find consensus in order to stabilize the market.
Finally, until any legislation or regulations are formally enacted into law, the ACA remains the law of the land and all of its mandates, penalties, and enforcement remains in effect and your employer and individual clients should continue to follow all rules and regulations that are currently in place.