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Affordable Care Act - Future of Law Remains Uncertain

It has been nine years since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama, and since then it has become embedded in our nation’s health care system. Efforts to repeal the law have been unsuccessful and for now, the law remains intact. This Update provides a summary of a few interesting developments under the ACA.

  • Individual Mandate Repealed. Effective as of January 1, 2019, the ACA individual mandate penalty was eliminated which means individuals are no longer subject to a penalty under the ACA for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage.

  • ACA Ruled Invalid by Federal Court. In December 2018, a federal court ruled that the entire ACA is invalid due to the elimination of the individual mandate penalty as of January 1, 2019.

  • ACA Remains in Place Pending Appeal. This ruling is being appealed and following a decision on the appeal, it is anticipated that the US Supreme Court will likely take up this ACA case, but probably not until 2020. As a result, a final decision on this issue is not expected to be made until that time.

  • Trump Administration Supports Federal Ruling. In response to the federal court ruling, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a March 2019 letter supporting the court’s ruling. This means that the DOJ also believes the ACA to be unconstitutional, and agrees that it should be invalidated in its entirety.

  • HHS Will Continue to Enforce ACA. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has confirmed that it will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA as it has before the court issued its opinion.

  • Alternative Solutions Considered. In the midst of the continued battle to change or eliminate the ACA, some lawmakers are considering solutions they believe are long overdue: A single-payer or Medicare-for-all system.

  • Support for Cadillac Tax Repeal is Strong. The “Cadillac tax,” originally enacted as part of the ACA, applies to the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage in excess of certain thresholds starting in 2022. Current bi-partisan support for a bill that would permanently repeal the tax on employer-sponsored health coverage is strong, and pressure continues to mount on Congress to address the tax.

So as it stands for now, the ACA requirements continue, including the 2019 Exchange enrollment, the ACA’s employer shared responsibility (pay or play) penalties and related reporting requirements, and all other applicable ACA requirements. But we are hopeful that a change or repeal of the Cadillac tax may actually happen in the short term based on the bi-partisan support for its elimination. We’re watching the Cadillac tax legislation and the ACA federal court appeal process and we will continue to share important updates as warranted. Please contact your Conner Strong & Buckelew account representative toll free at 1-877-861-3220 with any questions. For a complete list of Legislative Updates issued by Conner Strong & Buckelew, visit our online Resource Center

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