Congress Fast-Tracks Partial “Repeal” of the Affordable Care Act
The House and Senate passed a budget resolution on January 13, 2017, to begin the process to repeal significant portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The resolution limits debate to 20 hours, effectively preventing Democrats from blocking the legislation by filibuster.
The next step in the process calls for House and Senate committees to draft a reconciliation bill that would defund the ACA by at least $1 billion dollars over the next 10 years. The bill likely would eliminate tax penalties for uninsured persons and employers who do not offer coverage for employees; eliminate billions of dollars provided to states for Medicaid programs; and repeal subsidies for private health insurance obtained on a health exchange. President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have pledged that the ACA repeal and a replacement plan will take place simultaneously to avoid chaos and disruption in the health system. Mr. Ryan set forth a timeline for Congress to vote on the bill this April. At present, no specific replacement plan has been identified.
The reconciliation bill would only need to pass Senate vote by a simple majority regarding fiscal matters, such as tax credits. Other provisions of the ACA, such as the allowance for children to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, cannot be repealed by the reconciliation process and would need a 60 vote “super majority” in the Senate to be repealed.