Congress & the Trump Administration Continue to Work On Health Reform Changes

Congress & the Trump Administration Continue to Work On Health Reform Changes

Congress and the Trump Administration are working on measures that could impact employer plans in the year ahead.  In Congress, a group of 13 Republican Senators is crafting a bill to reform and replace parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  While their work products have not been released publicly yet and the Congressional Budget Office has not determined any official price tag for their efforts, the goal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a vote before the July 4th recess.  If the Senate meets the deadline, then whatever measure they produce would need to be merged with the American Health Care Act that passed the House of Representatives in May, approved by both chambers and signed into law by President Trump.

On the regulatory side, the Trump Administration is working on several proposals that could impact employer plans even sooner.  One is a modification of the federal preventive care requirements, which among other things, requires most employer plans to cover most forms of contraceptives at the first-dollar level.  The administration is planning on releasing a regulation soon that would expand the religious exemption to the contraceptive coverage mandate and would make it easier for an employer to qualify.  The federal Department of Health and Human Services also recently publicly asked for information about how they can reduce the regulatory burden on health insurance consumers, including employer plans, and improve health insurance options.  They plan to use the results of the information request to make changes to existing regulatory requirements on benefit plans and health insurers.  Finally, the Department of Labor is working on an information request to get public input on how they can expand exemptions to the new fiduciary rule that went into effect on June 9 and could impact both employer retirement plans, as well as employer-sponsored health plans that include a health savings account component.

While health care reform remains in the news, nothing concrete has changed yet for employer-sponsored plans.  All existing health reform compliance efforts need to continue and plan design options for 2018 remain unaffected as of right now.  However, rest assured that Kistler Tiffany Benefits is monitoring the situation closely.  If and when legislative or regulatory changes occur that could impact your plan, KTB will inform you immediately.

By Jessica Waltman, Special Contributor

Jessica Waltman is a health reform strategist, with more than 20 years of experience in health insurance markets and health policy. She is the former Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, for the National Association of Health Underwriters.