If you ask Dylan Scott, a health care reporter for Vox, about the risk of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being repealed, he’d say “The ACA is going to survive.” NCCS has heard this sentiment echoed by Members of Congress as well, with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell stating that he wants to move on to other priorities such as infrastructure. Even if congressional Republicans agreed on a health care bill that could pass the chamber, the task would be even more difficult this year because they have just a one-seat majority in the Senate after the Alabama special election went to a Democrat in December.
In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Trump did not outline any efforts regarding health care reform but he did mention that the individual mandate was repealed as part of the tax deal. As we reported earlier, the true impact of mandate repeal on the individual marketplace remains to be seen. There are ongoing efforts to pass a bipartisan ACA stabilization bill that may be included in a continuing resolution to keep the government funded by February 8th. From our meetings on Capitol Hill, we’ve heard that this stabilization bill will be a combination of the Alexander-Murray cost-sharing reduction payment bill and the Collins-Nelson reinsurance bill. Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation said that of the two bills, the one that would have the most impact on insurance markets is Collins-Nelson, as it would substantially offset the premium increases.
Although we are unlikely to see any efforts to repeal the ACA through legislative action, the Trump administration has looked to alter the law administratively. Through the use of Association Health Plans and approving waivers with significant impacts to access, the administration can undermine the ACA’s patient protections. Idaho recently announced an executive order that would allow the state to offer plans that do not comply with the ACA’s regulations and protections. NCCS will remain vigilant in working to protect patients’ access to quality and affordable health coverage.