The steamroller everyone expected from President Trump and the GOP-led Congress to flatten the Affordable Care Act has been put on idle and what was a promised quick outright repeal has morphed into a plan to “repair” the law.
In particular, Republican lawmakers, huddling while trying to devise a repeal-and-replace plan, have instead found that it won’t be so easy, unless they want to cut off millions of people from the health insurance they have purchased on exchanges.
They are most concerned with the political fallout should that happen, not to mention the fact that a repeal would also do away with the Medicaid expansion that has ensured that millions more low-income earners are covered.
With everything in flux now, as we mentioned earlier, it’s best to continue complying with the ACA as it still is the law of the land and it’s looking more and more likely that the law won’t be repealed, but will be changed. And lawmakers have indicated that they may have a fix on the table by the end of the year.
Top GOP lawmakers have publically stated that some parts of the law will remain intact and others will be “fixed.”
Surprisingly, the Republican leadership’s views on the subject will now likely align more with Democrats who have acknowledged the flaws in the law and that amending the law is the best way to go.
While conservative and Tea Party Republicans say the law can’t be fixed and should be repealed, their desired outcome is looking less and less likely. Also, there is no consensus within the GOP on what should come next.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus held a press conference on Feb. 7 saying that Republican legislators should not go soft on their promise to repeal the law and instead should quickly introduce new legislation that would repeal the ACA.
They want to model the bill after legislation that Congress passed but President Obama vetoed – in 2015. That legislation would have repealed the mandate that individuals have health coverage and that companies with 50 or more employees provide employees affordable insurance.
It also would have ended federal subsidies to help people afford insurance under the ACA and scrapped funding for Medicaid expansion. It also gave lawmakers two years to come up with a replacement plan.
But it’s the leadership that decides which bills move forward and out of committee.
For now, Republicans are up against a self-imposed deadline after they passed a measure in January that allowed them to begin putting together a budget process that will undo parts of Obamacare.
Under that deadline, four congressional committees were supposed to have drafted legislation repealing the law by Jan. 27, however no bill was introduced. Now pundits say that may not happen until April.
Republicans are now considering four drafts, language from which they will likely fuse into one bill.
Without Democrats, Republicans are limited in how much they can undo the law.
Congress will have to walk a delicate path and find ways to help middle-class Americans, some of who have complained about high and skyrocketing insurance premiums. Others are worried about repeal because the ACA has given them access to life-saving treatment.
Also, there are other forces at play, including stakeholders like businesses, health insurers, drug companies and the medical industry, which all have their own agendas and will be lobbying hard.
For now, continue complying with the law and cover your employees if you are an applicable large employer – and file your papers with your staff and the IRS on time.