The ongoing healthcare legislation saga

syringe-1884779_640According to Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck, “Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.” That was surely true of the struggle over the recently proposed American Health Care Act, the abortive attempt of House Republicans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.

There are two main post-AHCA narratives. President Trump and Congressional Republicans say that, without remedies that they favor, ACA coverage will completely collapse, with highly undesirable results for Americans. Democrats say that the ACA works well for Americans but may need some tweaking. Regardless, radical changes to the ACA are not likely anytime soon.

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The ACA feature of greatest concern to staffing firms and their customers is the “employer mandate,” which makes large employers choose between offering coverage to full-time employees and paying penalties.

Until ACA’s ultimate fate is determined, the effects of the employer mandate will depend on how willing, aggressive, and successful the Trump Administration is at defanging the mandate by waivers, postponements, benign enforcement neglect, interpretation, and fiat. President Obama used all of these methods to soften ACA’s burdens and unworkable features.

President Trump’s first executive order confirmed his hostility to mandates, so employers can reasonably anticipate specific ACA relief. However, they should not assume that they have been liberated from any aspect of the ACA until the government or their trusted advisers confirm it.

If the employer mandate is lifted or modified, staffing firms should revisit commitments they may have made in contract amendments demanded by customers. These commitments often include promises to offer affordable, minimum value coverage to all assigned employees, to perform ACA reporting on them, to practice “differential billing” by charging extra for assigned employees enrolled in coverage, and to indemnify customers for ACA penalties.

Relief from the mandate may inspire customers to challenge the rate hikes or surcharges imposed by many staffing firms to cover ACA costs.

Also, forms of health insurance outlawed by the ACA may be resurrected as coverage options for staffing firms.

In the May issue of Staffing Industry Review, I also discuss other issues staffing firms should be aware of as the Trump administration’s policies unfold.

MORE: Trump’s first executive order takes aim at ACA

George M. Reardon

George M. Reardon
George M. Reardon is an attorney whose practice is focused on the staffing industry. He can be reached at georgemreardon (at) aol (dot) com.

George M. Reardon

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