On day one of his administration, President Trump issued an Executive Order aimed at beginning the process of fulfilling one of his most impassioned promises during his campaign – to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The multi-part Order states that the Trump Administration’s official policy is “to seek the prompt repeal” of the ACA, but at the same time it emphasized that his Administration must continue to uphold the law. The order does not change the ACA, but signals President Trumps’ commitment to repeal and replace the law.
The Order, which is largely symbolic, directs the various federal agencies engaged in the administration of the ACA to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement” of the ACA that imposes any costs, fees, penalties or regulatory burdens on any individuals, health care providers, health insurers or purchasers of health insurance (among others). White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also sent a memo to all government agencies and departments to freeze new or pending regulations — giving the new administration time to review the regulations. This regulatory freeze action is a fairly standard move for a new administration taking over for the other party that effectively stops outstanding policies from the prior administration before they can be finalized. The freeze does not give Trump the ability to roll-back regulations that were finalized under the prior administration. Rather for regulations that have yet to be sent for publishing, the memo directs the agency not to send any regulation to be published until reviewed by someone selected by the President.
President Trump does not have the power to nullify much of the ACA which is already set in regulations. Many prospective changes will require Congressional action and can and likely will take months or even a year or two. For now it is left to the agencies to effectuate the Order and review outstanding regulations. It remains to be seen how the agencies will act on these directives, but it is a clear sign that the new President intends to act swiftly in addressing the health insurance law.
With the 45th President of the United States now in office and the 115th Congress in session, there promises to be a great deal of uncertainty about what lies ahead for employee benefits. We will continue to provide alerts and updates for employers and plan sponsors as new information is issued on these important topics. In the meantime, should you have questions about this or any aspect of federal health insurance reform, contact your Conner Strong & Buckelew account representative toll free at 1-877-861-3220. For a complete list of Legislative Updates issued by Conner Strong & Buckelew, visit our online Resource Center.