On the evening of Wednesday, January 11, 2017, the Senate worked late into the night passing a budget resolution (51 to 48) that instructs Congressional committees to begin working on legislation to repeal much of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the ACA is repealed in the near future, this would be the first step of the process. However, many steps remain and the final outcome is unknown.
Notably, the following steps stand between a repeal (and potential replacement) of the ACA and the current law:
- The House has to pass the budget
- The House has to draft the repeal bill
- The House has to vote on the repeal bill
- The House has to send the repeal bill back to the Senate
- The Senate has to debate the repeal bill and potentially make amendments
- The Senate has to vote on the repeal
- President Trump has to sign the repeal
It is still uncertain what the repeal might look like, and what could replace the ACA. Media reports are citing that top priorities for Republicans change by the day, and sometimes by the hour. The only constants seem to be a desire to see an increased reliance on consumer-driven health care and health savings accounts (HSAs) in some way or another, and potentially relaxing requirements on how HSAs are used. The ability to purchase insurance across state lines is also commonly touted as a desired outcome. There is at least some support for continuing to prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions, and to require employers to cover dependents up to age 26.
Rest assured that Vita is keeping a close eye on legislation and news in Washington D.C., and will issue a Vita Viewpoint alert if and when the ACA is repealed, the ACA is replaced, or required compliance with the ACA changes in any way.