Senate fails to pass ACA replacement legislation

Written on Oct 19, 2017


On Sept. 26, Republican leadership failed to bring a vote to the Senate floor on their most recent proposed legislation to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. The Graham-Cassidy bill failed to gain support from Republican Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rand Paul, R-Ky. Following the defeat of the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA), i.e., the “skinny repeal” bill in July, with a vote on the Senate floor (49-51), a formal GOP repeal and replace effort will not occur in 2017.

The Graham-Cassidy bill was an 11th hour push to dismantle significant portions of the ACA through the budget reconciliation process. Senators Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sponsored the bill. The budget reconciliation option expired on Sept. 30.

GOP leadership hoped to overcome objections that derailed earlier proposals by granting states significant flexibility. Ultimately, the bill faced the same challenges as the Republicans’ earlier repeal efforts in winning support from centrist Republicans. The Graham Cassidy bill:

  • Funneled money currently used for the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and premium subsidies into block grants to states for shaping their health care system.
  • Allowed states to waive rules prohibiting higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.
  • Capped federal Medicaid funding for the first time.

Following the decision not to proceed to a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill, tax reform is anticipated as the next legislative measure. Oswald will monitor any potential changes to the tax exclusion for employer provided health insurance if the tax reform legislation advances.

Read the full group health plan compliance update.

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