Senate “Repeal and Replace” Bill Fails: What’s Next for Employers?

The Senate Republican effort to pass the ACA “repeal and replace” bill appears to have reached a dead-end. When two more Republican Senators voiced their opposition to the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA) last night, the effort was effectively a failure.

In the end, the bill couldn’t bridge the gap between moderate and conservative GOP senators. There wasn’t any provision for both making the conservatives happy with full repeal, and moderates happy with less impact on Medicaid.

Although Senate leadership hints that the next round will be to attempt repeal separately from “replace” legislation. This will likely fail as well. So that leaves us with the ACA in effect and a whole basket of questions and unknowns about the rest of 2017 on into 2018. Will the Trump administration enforce the employer mandate? How about the individual mandate?

Will Trump administration DOL employees enforce compliance through audits and fines? Or, will they slack off of enforcement as the administration directed earlier? There are no easy answers and employers will need to pay attention to communications and notices from their advisors for guidance.

Markets and the economy in general don’t like uncertainty… but that is what we have. Employers, employees, individuals and insurance carriers all have a huge stake in the outcome. The battle over the ACA is one of the more unique battles in the history of recent politics. On the one hand, it is doomed to failure with adverse impact on millions within a very short time- FACT. On the other hand, it’s so political that a compromise in the “common sense” course of thought can’t be reached. Unfortunately, everyone is likely to be a loser in the status quo unless our elected officials can drop the political labels and pass a bill that creates financially sustainable, affordable health care for all Americans.

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