Happy New Year, and Happy New Congress! The new U.S. Congress was sworn in on Monday, January 2, and the Senate wasted no time introducing legislation that would pave the way for repeal of significant portions of the Affordable Care Act.
However, the method of repeal is important here. The Senate Republicans are favoring a legislative process known as reconciliation. If you’re not familiar with reconciliation, there’s a great write up of it from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities here.
It’s important to note that reconciliation is a budgetary procedure and not surprisingly limited to budgetary matters. Thus, insurance subsidies provided by Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, ACA tax increases, and the individual coverage mandate could all be repealed.
Reconciliation could not affect aspects of the law that are non-budgetary. So, if the Senate would like to reverse the ban on pre-existing conditions or eliminate the safe harbor for individuals on their parents’ insurance under 26 years of age they would need a separate bill.
Why proceed with the reconciliation process as opposed to a traditional bill? It’s a proven strategy with one important difference. Congress passed a similar bill approximately one year ago following the same procedure. HR 3762 was introduced by Tom Price of Georgia and passed both houses before receiving a veto from President Obama.
There is little doubt that President elect Trump would not elect to veto should a similar bill reach his desk after January 20th.
So, what law if any will replace Obamacare if Congress successfully executes the reconciliation procedure? Unfortunately, that answer is less clear. There are many ideas discussed, but the primary focus has been on repeal of the portions that are vulnerable through reconciliation first.
The Legislative Committee will be examining this question at the next meeting scheduled for January 9th, 2017. A panel discussion will look ahead to the first 100 days of the administration and provide some crucial analysis for what changes we can expect. What will the replacement for Obamacare look like. What kind of tax policy is feasible, and can we repatriate corporate earnings? What is the likely status of immigration reform?
We will be discussing these questions with Mary Lou Mastro, System CEO for Edward-Elmhurst Health, Ben Taylor, Executive Director, Great Lakes Regional Office U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Rebecca Shi, Executive Director for Illinois Business Immigration Coalition
I hope to see you there!