As ACA Remains Law, Focus Turns Back to Regulatory Relief
Employer groups likely to seek targeted legislative and regulatory fixes
Now that House leaders have withdrawn the GOP's American Health Care Act from further consideration, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will stay in effect and attention is turning to federal agencies for any regulatory relief they can give employers under the existing law. In the meantime, employers must continue to comply with the ACA's many coverage obligations and administrative requirements.
"Obamacare will remain the law of the land," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said during a press conference shortly after the bill was pulled last Friday. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."
The ACA and its implementing rules could still see modest changes through targeted legislative actions and regulatory adjustments. However, employers subject to the ACA—those with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents, in particular—should continue complying with the ACA's wide-ranging coverage mandates that require applicable large employers to offer minimum essential coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value to full-time employees, and all related employee tracking and reporting requirements, benefit attorneys advised.
"One big-ticket item that could be on the regulatory agenda is revisiting the 10 essential health benefits that individual and small-group plans are required to cover," such as maternity/newborn care, substance use disorder services and pediatric services, he noted. The definition of essential health benefits also affects large group plans, because all employer-provided plans—including those that are self-funded—are prohibited from subjecting the coverage of essential health benefits to annual and lifetime dollar limits.
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