ACA Watch | May 1, 2017

posted on
ACA Watch | May 1, 2017

ACA Watch May 1, 2017


Though previously pulled prior to a vote in March, the AHCA bill is still in conversation as Republicans make changes in hopes of it passing through Congress. Nothing has changed with the ACA, which remains the law today. 


Government shutdown averted

Last week, Congressional negotiators were able to avoid a government shutdown through a short-term spending bill that keeps the government open for another week. Over the weekend there was bipartisan agreement to keep the government funded through the end of the September.  The House and Senate are expected to vote on this longer term spending package this week. (USA Today)


“That dog ain’t hunting anymore”

The GOP remains uncertain of its ability to get the necessary number of votes from conservative and moderates who had previously opposed the AHCA bill.

According to Republican Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, “The business model around here is to load the bill up, make it as conservative as possible, send it to the Senate and have the Senate clean it up and send it back, and the very people who are placated on the first launch won’t be there on the final.  And that dog ain’t hunting anymore.” (BenefitsPro)


GOP path forward?

A new draft of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) released last Wednesday was approved by the Freedom Caucus, increasing GOP optimism of a vote on the bill. Funding the government before the Friday deadline served as a reason for Republicans to try to push the AHCA through. However, on Thursday the GOP announced that they would not bring the bill to the floor until they were sure they had all the votes.

While efforts ultimately did not succeed, momentum has grown for an AHCA vote, with the amended AHCA draft winning over several of the bill’s skeptics.  The Trump administration encouraged one last push to assemble a House vote on AHCA, in part to make true on GOP’s long-held promise to repeal or replace the ACA, but also to prevent the government shutdown.

Republicans will continue to look for ways to get the AHCA to the floor for a vote.  Trying to balance the “wants” from conservatives and centrists has proven complicated. To pass the bill, the GOP could only afford to lose 22 votes. (BenefitsPro)

What does the amendment change?

The MacArthur Amendment to the AHCA would allow state waivers to opt out of certain ACA requirements. States could apply for waivers to reduce premiums, increase health insurance enrollment, stabilize markets, increase choice of health plans in that State, and stabilize premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. (ECFC)

The amendment got the official nod from the House Freedom Caucus. It also gained support by those previously opposed: Ways and Means Chairman Brady (R-TX), and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Walden (R-OR), and other influential conservative groups. (ECFC)

The amendment has also been criticized, for its treatment of people with pre-existing conditions. (BenefitsPro) The American Medical Association stated that the proposed change would result in coverage unaffordable for that population segment.


For employers, the AHCA could mean that group health insurance policies could cover fewer benefits. States who obtain a waiver to reduce essential health benefits could exclude certain benefits protected by the ACA. For instance, a state could decide that health insurance does not need to cover prescription drugs. (Venable)

Employer group health plans would also be able to obtain a waiver allowing them to impose an annual or lifetime limit on specific benefits. Such limits were previously not allowed under the ACA.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has told Democrats that there would likely not be an updated estimate of the cost of the revised AHCA bill for several weeks. (BenefitsPro)

Lingering pushback

The AHCA still remains opposed by a few key players. The American Medical Association (AMA), American Hospital Association, and AARP still are in opposition. (BenefitsPro)

Some moderates in Congress have been skeptical as to whether the AHCA provides enough funding for state Medicaid programs. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion component has proven popular across party lines. The AHCA would phase out Medicaid expansion by 2020.

The AMA said in a statement, “The proposed change would still result in millions of Americans losing their health-care coverage and could make coverage unaffordable for people with preexisting conditions.” (BenefitsPro)

 As a long-time member of the Employers Council for Flexible Compensation (ECFC), Employee Benefits Corporation will continue to provide ACA Watch updates as legislation continues to evolve.

  • Out-of-Network? Sorry, I have to wash the windows.
    What is does it mean if a health care provider is "Out-of-Network"? This is a general idea for employees navigating their health plan who wish to understand the health care costs better so that they c...
  • Network Provider? Sorry, I have to mop the floor.
    Health insurance plans utilize networks. Networks consist of select network providers, which are hospital systems and the doctors and clinics associated with those systems. Insurance carriers are able...
  • In-Network? Sorry, I have to take out the trash.
    Health plans utilize provider networks. Your health plan has negotiated rates for health care services that are considered “in-network.” When an insurance carrier aligns their coverage with a networ...
  • Referral? Sorry, I have to dust the shelves.
    Benefits 101: What is a referral? A referral from your primary care physician may be required by your health insurance plan for specific treatments from a specialist doctor. Not all types of treatmen...
  • 12 Things You Didn’t Know About the Dependent Care FSA

    12 Things You Didn’t Know About the Dependent Care FSA   The BESTflexSM Plan Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account is an option of the BESTflex plan provided by your employer.     1. A specif...
  • Internships, Obamacare and Benefits

    If you currently have interns, or are hiring some soon for a summer internship program, there's something you should know.
  • Polar Plunge 2015 [PHOTOS]

    Seven of our employees participated in the 2015 Polar Plunge and took the jump. We also raised $3,436.70 for the Special Olympics, beating our goal by almost two and a half thousand dollars.
  • Benefits Selling Expo 2015

    The 11th annual 2015 Benefits Selling Expo is taking place next week, May 19th - 21st in Scottsdale, Arizona. We will be there, so make sure to check us out.