Early Friday morning, July 28, 2017, the Senate voted on the Health Care Freedom Act (also known as the skinny repeal option), which is a narrow version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BRCA) previously considered by the Senate. The vote failed 49-51 with three Republicans voting no—Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona. After the failure to pass, the bill will move back into committee in the Senate. Health care reform may still be discussed and resurrected, however, the sentiment in the wee hours of the morning was that the Senate will move onto other business. No further proceedings are planned this week and the Senate adjourned until Monday, July 31. The Senate’s posted agenda for Monday doesn’t include any health-related discussion.
This failure of the repeal effort means that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains in full effect. Employers should continue to follow its requirements and operate with full ACA compliance in mind. This includes:
- Submitting Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee payments for self-insured covered individuals via IRS Form 720 by July 31, 2017.
- Ensuring all Summary of Benefits and Coverage statements are updated to meet new template standards by your next open enrollment.
- Continuing compliance with the ACA’s minimum essential coverage, minimum value and affordability requirements.
- Preparing for 2017 IRS Section 6055/6056 reporting and filing.
Moving forward, some Republican and Democratic lawmakers have discussed working together to fix the ACA. For employers, their allies, and industry groups, this may be an opportunity to continue to identify elements of the ACA that may enjoy bipartisan support. For example, repeal of the Cadillac Tax was supported broadly, but ultimately was swept away in the tide of other provisions that were more controversial.
Although the recent bills presented in the Senate have not passed, Alight Solutions is committed to keeping you informed about the potential impacts an ACA “repeal and/or replace” law would have on your organization and your people. We will continue to keep you updated on the latest legislative developments coming out of Washington to help you anticipate potential impacts to your business and determine what steps you should be taking now as we navigate our way together through this period of legislative uncertainty.