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Government Shutdown Ends With No Major Changes To Health Care Reform Law

10/17/13

  04:45:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 360 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform

Government Shutdown Ends With No Major Changes To Health Care Reform Law

Capitol Building

After 16 days of offers and counter-offers, in-party squabbling and plummeting popularity polls, Congress has finally worked out a deal to fund the federal government, thus ending the shutdown. President Obama signed the measure into law late Wednesday.

And as for the Affordable Care Act, which heavily contributed to the disagreements that led to the two-week hiatus? Well, it’s pretty much where it was on September 30.

At the outset, it appeared that Republican members of the House were prepared to dig in their heels until they came away with some headline-making change to the health care reform law. But when it became obvious that Senate Democrats were not about to offer a significant compromise, the less conservative representatives got cold feet and accepted the Senate proposal.

To be sure, Democrats did make one minor concession: A new requirement that people who receive government subsidies to pay for their health insurance first get verified for eligibility. But that’s a far cry from delaying the individual mandate, which Republicans pushed at the outset of the shutdown.

While there are multiple factors as to why Republicans conceded the battle – the looming debt ceiling deadline, internal disagreements about which ACA rule should be stricken or postponed – it’s likely that polls showing the GOP’s favorability at an all-time low dealt the decisive blow. Whatever misgivings Americans have about health care reform, closing down the government to take another crack at revamping it clearly did not sit well with most of the population.

(Ironically, Senate Democrats did consider delaying the transitional reinsurance fee – a per-member tax assessed on group health plans to cover high-cost cases in the individual market – for one year, but it was dropped from the final agreement.)

So health care reform remains more or less on track, with several major reform rules shortly to take effect. (The 12-month employer mandate delay, announced well before the shutdown, still stands.) If you’re looking for information about the new requirements, we invite you to view our recent series of ACA webinars. Additionally, MedBen clients with questions about the law are welcome to contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at cfraker@medben.com.

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