What Will Happen to the Affordable Care Act?

Question: How soon can we expect to see Congress start to undo the Affordable Care Act?
Answer: The 115th Congress will convene this week and according to a memo from Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, there will be a budget resolution that will address the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The resolution is expected to go before a House floor vote later this week and will signal the direction that Congress will take concerning the ACA.

During the presidential campaign GOP leaders repeatedly stated that their intention is to repeal the ACA. It appears now that the GOP plans to do so through an expedited budget reconciliation process that requires a simple majority vote in the Senate. The process would allow Republicans to strip funding for major parts of the healthcare law, like the cost-sharing subsidies, Medicaid expansion and premium stabilization programs. GOP leaders have also stated that they are working to terminate the mandate requiring people to enroll in health coverage.

Since budget reconciliation bills can only include provisions with a budgetary impact and that do not increase spending, some believe this likely lead to a lengthy delay before Republicans implement a plan to replace the ACA. Although the length of the delay is unknown at this time, some believe it could be as long as three years.

Meanwhile, healthcare industry leaders warn that delaying a replacement plan could cause the individual insurance market to collapse as well as endanger hospitals that provide uncompensated care for the 20 million people who would become uninsured if the ACA is repealed without a plan in place to replace it.

Weekly Charting Tip:

As a health care provider, NEVER access a chart for a patient that you have no reason to access. Prurient interest does not qualify. AND, never pass on the information that you found out to another interested party! A patient is being treated for venereal disease and you find it out by glancing at the EMR. You tell the patient's fiancé. OUCH! By the time the government and the licensing bodies get through with you, you will be driving an Uber! Remember, EMR leaves a log of all who access it. Until next week, Larry Kobak, Esq.

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