Trump administration discontinues ACA’s CSR payments

October 16, 2017 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

On October 12, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma released a statement announcing that cost-sharing reductions (CSR) payments were to be immediately discontinued based on a legal opinion from the attorney general.

In part, the statement noted that “we believe that the last Administration overstepped the legal boundaries drawn by our Constitution. Congress has not appropriated money for CSRs, and we will discontinue these payments immediately.”

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New Executive Order seeks to expand health insurance options

October 12, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

After several failed legislative attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Donald Trump is now taking matters into his own hands.

On October 12, Trump signed a new Executive Order (EO) designed to “expand choices and alternatives to Obamacare plans and increase competition to bring down costs for consumers,” according to a White House press release.

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New guidance shifts federal policy on religious liberty in employment

October 10, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

New guidance from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on religious liberty in employment “signals a shift in federal employment law and policy,” according to an attorney who focuses on employment law.

Sessions issued the new guidance to all administrative agencies and executive departments on October 6. It identifies 20 principles that administrative agencies and executive departments are to use “to ensure the religious freedoms of Americans are lawfully protected,” according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

J. Steven Massoni, a contributor to Kansas Employment Law Letter and attorney with Foulston Siefkin LLP in Wichita, Kansas, says the new guidance, which purports to expand the religious exemption in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, represents a change at the federal level. However, he says “it remains to be seen” what effect the DOJ’s guidance may have on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) position in cases involving religious liberty in employment. The EEOC interprets and enforces Title VII, which, among other things, prohibits discrimination based on religion.

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Trump administration expands exemptions to ACA contraceptive mandate

October 09, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On October 6, the Trump administration released two interim final rules that will vastly expand the availability of exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) rules requiring employer coverage of contraceptives.

The ACA requires employers and insurers that offer group health plans to employees to cover certain approved contraceptive methods—at no additional cost to employees—or face stiff penalties. Previously, there were exemptions for grandfathered health plans (i.e., plans in existence at the time of the ACA’s adoption) as well as for group health plans sponsored by religious employers. “Religious employers” were narrowly defined to include churches and related entities as well as religious orders.

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Employers advised to stay tuned as another healthcare bill heats up

September 19, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

ACA snipAs yet another attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA) heats up in Washington, employers wondering how a new law might affect their benefit plans are advised to stay tuned. And with lawmakers facing a short timetable, at least some answers should be coming soon.

Lawmakers wanting to repeal and replace the ACA­—also known as Obamacare—are under pressure to pass a bill by September 30. If a bill is passed by that deadline, Senate Republicans would need just 50 votes, along with a sure tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, to pass the measure under budget reconciliation rules. If a bill isn’t passed by September 30—when the reconciliation rules expire—60 votes will be needed to thwart a Democratic filibuster.

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CBO: $194 billion deficit increase if key ACA subsidies end in 2017

August 16, 2017 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

ACA snipby Jennifer Carson

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurers to offer plans with reduced deductibles, copayments, and other means of cost-sharing to certain people, depending on their income, who purchase plans through the ACA marketplaces. In turn, insurers receive federal payments arranged by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to cover the costs they incur because of that requirement.

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Senate agrees to consider healthcare bill

July 26, 2017 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

On July 25, after much back-and-forth in the Senate and the dramatic return of Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, the Senate agreed to open debate on legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joining all Senate Democrats in voting against the debate, Vice President Mike Pence stepped in to break the tie and get the legislation on the table.

Soon after, however, a vote on a version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) failed by a count of 43-57.

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Senate issues revised version of ACA repeal-and-replace bill

July 13, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On July 13, the Senate released a revised version of its proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal-and-replace bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. The Senate has yet to vote on the original version.

The revised version of the bill includes a “consumer freedom” amendment to the ACA that would allow consumers to purchase lower-premium catastrophic plans with stripped-down coverage. The current law requires all plans to provide certain minimum essential health benefits. Detractors of the ACA believe the requirements drive up the cost of health care and force healthy people to enroll in plans that provide more coverage than they want.

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CBO: Senate GOP health bill cuts deficit, adds to uninsured

June 27, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

The CBO and the JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit by $321 billion from 2017 to 2026. That amount is $202 billion more than the estimated net savings from the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was passed by the House in May. The additional savings largely come from steeper reductions to Medicaid than those proposed by the House bill as well as changes to the current subsidies for nongroup health insurance provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Senate releases highly anticipated healthcare bill

June 22, 2017 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

Update: On June 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that a vote on the Senate bill will be delayed until after the July 4th recess.

Following the May passage in the House of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Senate has now released the text of its own draft ACA reform bill.

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