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AHCA Clears House Hurdle, But Faces Uphill Senate Battle

05/05/17

  11:11:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 329 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform, Self-funding, American Health Care Act

AHCA Clears House Hurdle, But Faces Uphill Senate Battle

Capitol Building

It took a lot of old-fashioned wheeling and dealing, but on May 4 the Republican block of the House of Representatives managed to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) with 217 "yea" votes ‒ just one vote above the minimum number required for passage. Now the bill moves to the Senate, where its members are expected to make major changes, or even introduce alternative legislation.

Leading up to the successful vote, the biggest obstacle in the way of AHCA victory regarded coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The current bill promises that such coverage will remain available to all, though potential cost concerns proved a deal-breaker for some GOP House members.

While the AHCA debate has focused primarily on individual coverage, there are provisions in the bill that will affect self-funded employers as well. These include:

  • Removing employer mandate penalties effective 2016, though employer reporting remains;
  • Delaying the Cadillac tax until 2026;
  • Repealing employer and individual contribution limits to health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2016; and
  • Expanding health savings accounts (HSAs) to allow both spouses to make catch-up contributions beginning in 2018, and increasing maximum contribution limits.

Of course, the likelihood is that any bill that survives the Senate will be very different than the House version. In addition to zero backing from Democrats, Republican Senators face numerous difficulties in passing the current AHCA bill: Lukewarm public support, opposition by major medical organizations and patient advocacy groups, and a pending Congressional Budget Office review that may make the bill an even harder sell.

While we obviously don't know for certain what the future holds for the AHCA or health care reform in general, we do have some thoughts on what may happen, and what we'd like to see in the final bill... and we'll be sharing them at our upcoming MedBen Employer Roundtable on Thursday, May 11 in Newark, OH. If you haven't already signed up, please do so today by contacting Sales Analyst Sally Wood at swood@medben.com or (800) 423-3151, ext. 502.

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