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Lawmakers withdraw ACA replacement bill, introduce revisions

Published on April 28th, 2017 by Triton Benefits & HR Solutions

The American Health Care Act, the bill designed to replace the Affordable Care Act, was scheduled to go to a vote on March 4, 2017. However, with not enough votes to pass it, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Republican lawmakers pulled it at the last minute. Now, renewed efforts led by Representative Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) are being made to push through a revised version of the bill, the New York Times reported.  

The first AHCA bill falls short
Repealing and replacing the ACA has been a prominent goal of the new administration. There was significant opposition to the first attempt to do so, however. Most Democrats staunchly refused to vote for the bill and several Republican representatives, such as those in the The House Freedom Caucus, disagreed with points in the new plan. All this occurred after lawmakers introduced changes to the proposed bill that would reduce coverage on maternity care and mental health coverage, issues Republicans had with the ACA. The bid, however, didn't win over GOP members who were planning to vote no.

"Obamacare is the law of the land. It's going to remain the law of the land until it's replaced," Ryan said in a statement. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."

As Speaker Ryan noted, the ACA will remain in place. That means employers should continue following rules and guidelines it has set for companies providing group insurance.

Man signing contract.Lawmakers pulled the American Health Care Act before it went to a vote.

A second shot
After withdrawing the AHCA bill, Ryan encouraged his fellow lawmakers to reach agreements regarding health care. Though Republicans hold the majority, they'll need to unify on a health care vision. 

Rep. MacArthur drafted a new version of the proposal, which the The House Freedom Caucus agreed to on April 26. Other Republican leaders are still scrutinizing the proposal, looking to contribute additional policies that would best impact their states. House Democrats, meanwhile, have criticized the latest proposal for creating a pathway that will leave millions of Americans uninsured.

Whether or not the Republican majority can come together to pass the bill without Democrat support remains to be seen, but White House staffers are putting the pressure on Congress to make something happen. 

"We'll vote on it when we get the votes," said Speaker Paul Ryan.

ACA and workplaces
In the meantime, employers should continue to follow rules outlined in the ACA. As such, businesses with 50 employees or more are required to offer minimum essential coverage to 95 percent of full-time staff. What's more, the group insurance must pay for 60 percent of the cost of health care for the employee. Employers must continue to report coverage for tax purposes. 

Your company likely already has insurance in place, so operate under these same guidelines until an official law change goes through. If it does not, ensure any coverage you consider is compliant with the ACA.