Nov 4, 2010

Post Mid-Term Elections 2010...What is next for Health Care Reform?

Posted by: Alissa Viggianelli

The recent elections are bringing big changes to Washington.  Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives.  Democrats are set to maintain a slim majority in the Senate.  Many Republican candidates included promises regarding health care reform in their campaigns. These promises ranged from making changes to the law to outright repeal.  However, employers and plan sponsors should keep in mind that such changes will not be automatic or immediate. Any changes to health care reform will have to go through the same legislative process that the initial reform package endured.  

Potential Health Care Reform Changes

With a divided Congress, any efforts to completely repeal the legislation will face obstacles. Even if a full repeal could make it through the Senate, President Obama could still veto any repeal legislation. Because of that probability, some Republicans have indicated that that they would try to repeal the health care law “piece by piece,” using strategies like blocking funding or regulations. Other Republicans have also said they may try to replace, rather than repeal, parts of the law.  

Provisions of the law that are likely to be targeted for revision or repeal include:

  • The requirement for businesses to report payments in excess of $600 on a Form 1099;
  • The employer responsibility provisions, which provide that employers can face penalties for not providing a certain level of health coverage to employees;
  • The individual responsibility requirement, which imposes penalties on individuals who do not obtain coverage;
  •  The Cadillac Plan tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored health plans;
  •  The tax on manufacturers of medical devices; and
  • Cuts to Medicare. 

What’s Next?

Despite all these changes, and potential future changes, the health care reform law as we know it is the law. Employers and health plan sponsors should make sure they are implementing the requirements as they become effective. If any changes are made to parts of the law that have already taken effect, there will likely be time for employers and plan sponsors to put changes into place.

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