Monday night, two additional Republican senators announced opposition to the Senate Republican bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mike Lee (R-UT) joined Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in stating that they would vote no against the bill.
With the loss of those votes as well as Senator John McCain absent while recovering from surgery, Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader, announced that “the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.” Senator McConnell announced that, in coming days, he will schedule a vote on a measure that previously passed in the Senate in 2015 and would repeal the Affordable Care Act with a two-year delay to provide for a transition period. The 2015 measure was vetoed at that time by then-President Barack Obama. That means that the Republican strategy is to repeal the Affordable Care Act now, while delaying a replacement until after the 2018 mid-term election.
“The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation's governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care," Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement.
Meanwhile on Monday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) brought forward another approach that would redirect much of the current federal funding under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated $110 billion in 2016, and future funding directly to the states for use on health care spending and allow the individual states decide what components of the Affordable Care Act to maintain or otherwise try something new. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said that Congress should “start from a clean slate.”
What does all this mean? Keep calm and carry on!
The Affordable Care Act is still the current law of the land and until a measure passes both the House and Senate and is signed into law by the president, we typically recommend staying with your current compliance strategy.
This is especially important because changing benefits or eligibility mid-year could trigger other issues under ERISA, which isn’t impacted by any of the currently proposed legislation.