- The U.S. Senate voted to reject the Health Care Freedom Act by a vote of 49-51.
- Nicknamed the “skinny repeal” bill, the Republicans’ bare-bones legislation amended the American Health Care Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives in May.
- The Affordable Care Act and all of its provisions remain the law of the land.
On early Friday morning, July 28, the U.S. Senate voted 49-51 to reject the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA), which is commonly referred to as the “skinny repeal” bill. This legislation amended the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the bill that was passed in May by the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Three Republican Senators joined all the Democrats in voting against the legislation.
With the HCFA, Republican leadership drafted a non-controversial, bare-bones bill in the hopes of garnering enough support from both conservatives and moderates to pass the Senate, and then be negotiated jointly by the Senate and House in Conference into more substantial legislation. However, the bill did not pass.
Republicans’ repeal and replace efforts appear not to have a path forward. Republican leadership has indicated at this time that they are moving on to other business. The ACA and all its provisions remain intact, and continues to be the law of the land.
Employers should ensure that they are prepared to meet the requirements under the ACA, including the employer shared responsibility provisions.
What is next?
Republican leadership has indicated that they will move on to other priorities at this time. There is still recognition that there is work to be done on the ACA.
Some Republican senators are calling for work across the aisle with Democrats and to follow general legislative procedures such as holding bipartisan hearings, putting legislation through appropriate committees, and engaging stakeholders in the discussion to help repair portions of the law to improve market stability. This regular order generally means less volatile change to current law and more incremental alterations.
Aside from legislative action, the President can take steps to change the trajectory of current law. Keep in mind that making changes through the regulatory process can be lengthy and complex. Any changes to current regulations are limited by the confines of the statute.
Paychex will continue to monitor for any changes or movement through Congress, and will keep you updated on any changes in the law.