What’s New

Stop Gap Funding Bill Delays Several ACA Taxes and Extends Chip Funding

On January 22, 2018, Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed into law, the stopgap government funding bill (The Bill), ending the government shutdown. The Bill delays the Cadillac Tax and medical device tax for an additional two (2) years, suspends the applicability of the Health Insurer Fee for 2019, and extends federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for another six (6) years.

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Employee Benefit Changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The Tax Cuts and Job Act (H.R.1) (the “Bill”) overhauls America’s tax code for both individuals and corporations. Compared to initial proposals, the final Bill genearlly does not make significant changes to employee benefits. The chart that follows highlights ccertain broad-based health and welfare, fringe and retirement plan benefit provisions of the Bill (comparing them to current law). Notable changes include:

  • Repeal of the Individual Mandate penalty beginning in 2019;
  • Elmination/changes of employer deductions for certain fringe benefits, including qualified transportation fringes, moving expenses, and meals/entertainment;
  • New tax credit for employers that pay qualifying employee while on family and medical leave, as described by the Family Medical Leave Act;
  • Extended rollover periods for deemed distributions of retirement plan loans; and
  • Tax relief for retirement plan distributions to relieve 2016 major disasters.

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President Trump Signs Executive Order on Health Insurance

President Trump has signed an Executive Order that could expand Americans’ healthcare choices and alternatives in the overall insurance
market. The Executive Order can be found here.

  • On October 12, 2017 President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order directing three cabinet agencies to consider
    developing rules that would provide individuals with greater access to reduced-cost health coverage, but that could also potentially
    affect some of the protections that currently exist in the Affordable Care Act and reduce the richness of certain health plans.
  •  The Order expands access to Association Health Plans (AHPs), which could allow certain employers to form associations across state
    lines to hopefully reduce the cost of coverage by spreading the risk among multiple employers.
  • The Order directs the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider expanding coverage through low cost, short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI), the coverage of which is not as robust as most health plans.
  • Lastly, the Order directs the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and human Services to consider changes to Health
    Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), so that employers can utilize them more effectively in providing health coverage to employees.

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Senate Republicans Release Updated Discussion Draft of ACA Repeal Bill

On Thursday, June 22, 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky released a 142-page healthcare “Discussion Draft” of
legislation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), which is the Senate version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “repeal and replace” legislation American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month. An updated “Discussion
Draft” of the BCRA was released on June 26, 2017 with the intention of calling for a vote on the bill before the Fourth of July recess. However, Senator McConnell had to delay that vote after it became clear that it would not get the 51 votes required under the Budget Reconciliation rules to pass. A further updated Discussion Draft of the BCRA was released on July 13, 2017. A summary of the updated July 13 draft of the BCRA by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget is available here and a section-by-section summary of the July 13 version is available here and here.

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PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2017

Employers that sponsor self-insured group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) should keep in mind the upcoming July 21, 2017 deadline for paying fees that fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The amount of PCORI fees due by employer sponsors and insurers is based upon the number of covered lives under each “applicable self-insured health plan” and “specified health insurance policy” (as defined by regulations) and the plan or policy year end date.

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House Republicans Pass ACHA

A revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017. The vote was very close, with 217 in favor and 213 opposed. Every House Democrat and 20 House Republicans opposed the measure.

This is not the original version of the AHCA, which was pulled before a March vote because of Republican concerns that there were not enough votes to pass.  A number of changes were subsequently made to the original bill.  However, the AHCA still has to pass the Senate before arriving at the President’s desk to be signed into law.

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House Republicans Withdraw the ACHA Before a Planned Vote

On Friday, March 24, 2017, the US House of Representatives pulled from the floor the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The withdrawal was rumored to signal the end of ACA repeal efforts; however, it has been reported that House Republican leaders and the Trump administration have renewed negotiations to repeal the ACA.  At this time, there are no details about what may be in any renewed repeal legislation or the timing of its release.

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Transforming the ACA

The House Ways & Means Committee and House Energy & Commerce Committee issued draft language as directed by the January budget resolution to repeal & replace the Affordable Care Act.  The proposed legislation is called the American Health Care Act.  If approved by the committees, it will move to the House Budget Committee, and then the House Rules Committee before it can be voted on in the House.  The bill would next progress to the Senate for a vote and finally to the President for his signature.  Republican leadership has repeatedly stated they intend to have the bill on the President’s desk by Easter, April 16.

The language of the American Health Care Act is not final and will likely change as it moves through the legislative process. Following is a summary of the Act’s major provisions organized by the stakeholders impacted.

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Executive Order Issued on the ACA

President Trump issued an Executive order intended to minimize the economic and regulatory burdens of the ACA. The order has no immediate effect on employers, many of whom are in the process of complying with the reporting requirements.

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