Hours before the end of annual enrollment in the federal health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a Texas district court judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional because the ACA’s individual mandate was eliminated. (The individual mandate is reduced to zero on January 1, 2019.) In Texas vs. United States, Judge Reed C. O’Connor struck down the law, siding with a group of 18 Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors that the tax bill passed by Congress last December effectively rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional. Judge O’Connor ruled that, because the U.S. Supreme Court upheld… Read more
The IRS has just released new final regulations regarding religious exemptions and accommodations from the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The rule, to be officially published on November 15th, currently in unpublished form, is available here. This final rule, released post-midterm elections, will provide a way forward for religious organizations that object to certain contraceptive coverage required under the ACA. More details soon.
Not So Fast, Says New York and Massachusetts Many commentators and businesses welcomed the new final regulations on association health plans (AHPs) released by the US. Department of Labor (DOL) on Tuesday, (see here and here). The new rules allow small businesses and self-employed individuals to band together to purchase health insurance, even across state lines. This insurance potentially is more cost-effective than the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace policies, and the policies offered to the small group and individual markets. These policies may be less expensive because the AHPs are not required to provide all of the essential benefits required under the… Read more
Late yesterday, the U.S. Senate Republicans approved a tax bill, by a vote of 51-48. This bill was previously approved by the U.S. House by a vote of 227-203. As the bill must be identical in both chambers, this bill now heads back to the U.S. House to correct three provisions. One of these provisions is the actual name of the bill. The Senate version’s short title, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” must be known as “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018,”… Read more
According to multiple sources, the U.S. Senate is close to voting on tax reform either later today or in the morning. Absent any late defections, the bill is expected to pass the Senate through a strict party-line vote. While the final version of the bill is not yet set, at this time, the current version includes the elimination of the individual mandate penalty currently provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House’s version of tax reform, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, passed on November 16th, does not include the elimination of the individual mandate penalty, although the House… Read more
In the U.S. House, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( H.R. 1) (the Act) was approved by a vote of 227-205 yesterday. The legislation lowers the top corporate rate of 35 percent to a flat 20 percent. On the individual side, the bill would collapse the existing seven income tax brackets to four with rates of 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent, and 39.6 percent, and would roughly double the standard deduction. The Act would also limit home mortgage interest deductions, cap state, and local property tax deductions and eliminate deductions for other state and local taxes, and double the… Read more
Over the past few weeks, the U.S. House and Senate have been working independently on tax bills. While these bills have included some health care related changes, the latest version of the Senate bill now includes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. This addition provides funding for the tax breaks included in the bill and will allow the Senate Republicans to eliminate at least a small portion of the ACA. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) previously estimated that eliminating the individual mandate will reduce the federal deficit by about $338 billion over the 2018–2027 period. However, eliminating… Read more
The Senate Republicans admitted defeat for the latest version of the “repeal and replace” bill. “We don’t have the votes,” bill co-sponsor Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told reporters in Washington. “We’ve made the decision, since we don’t have the votes, we’ll postpone that vote.” This means that the Senate will not vote before Saturday’s deadline to use the budget “reconciliation” process to pass a GOP-only bill. When Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine added her opposition to that of GOP Senators John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky, it was enough to doom the bill in the Senate…. Read more