'Repeal now, replace later' might not be so bad for employers
- GOP aides quickly shot down President Trump's tweeted advice to repeal the Affordable Care Act now and replace it later, but Employee Benefit News (EBN) says such a move could have an upside for employers.
- EBN says that although employer-sponsored health plans aren't at the center of the healthcare debate, rolling back key ACA provisions, like the employer mandate and the reporting requirements, would relieve large organizations of some of the law's most burdensome rules.
- Republicans plan to overhaul the ACA through the budget reconciliation process, a senatorial procedure that requires a simple majority vote to pass legislation. Senate GOP members are reportedly planning a vote on ACA repeal as early as next week.
GOP aides wasted no time in rejecting Trump's call to repeal the ACA now, and replace it later. Some fear that the absence of a replacement plan would keep the Republican healthcare overhaul in perpetual limbo. But as EBN points out, an immediate repeal would remove the costliest and most time-consuming parts of the ACA for employers.
Employers also would like to see the Cadillac tax repealed. But the tax remains even in the passed version of the House's healthcare bill, the AHCA. A separate piece of legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017, would target the Cadillac tax specifically.
But the clamor for healthcare reform doesn't mean business advocates want to scrap all aspects of the ACA. A 2017 Willis Towers Watson survey found that employers are likely to keep, among other benefits, contraceptive coverage and the dependent coverage rule for children age 26 and under. Such offerings remain primary drivers of employee engagement.
HR departments are carrying much of the ACA's compliance burden in some organizations. A 2015 PwC study found that 83% of the employers polled handled their reporting responsibilities through HR. IT secures the data, but the squeeze to comply has often been on HR.
With the GOP healthcare plan currently on the ropes, employers should concentrate on complying with the ACA until it's replaced or repealed.