On March 24, 2017, Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew the American Health Care Act—their proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
A House vote was scheduled to take place on that day, but House Republicans could not secure enough votes to approve the legislation and, instead, canceled the vote. As a result, the ACA will remain in place at this time.
IMPACT ON EMPLOYERS
Because the House was unable to pass the American Health Care Act, the ACA remains current law, and employers must continue to comply with all applicable ACA provisions.
President Donald Trump has indicated that he would not continue to pursue an ACA repeal if the American Health Care Act could not be passed. Both President Trump and House leadership have stated that they now intend to focus on other issues. Despite this, Congress may choose to pursue their own ACA repeal and replacement in the future.
Two separate bills that make up the American Health Care Act were released in response to a budget resolution passed by Congress on Jan. 13, 2017. The budget resolution is a nonbinding spending blueprint that directs House and Senate Committees to create federal budget “reconciliation” legislation. To become law, budget reconciliation bills must go through the legislative process. However, a budget reconciliation bill is generally filibuster-proof, and can be passed by both houses with a simple majority vote.
A full repeal of the ACA cannot be accomplished through the budget reconciliation process. A budget reconciliation bill can only address ACA provisions that directly relate to budgetary issues—specifically, federal spending and taxation. A full repeal of the ACA must be introduced as a separate bill that would require 60 votes in the Senate to pass.
Debate on the American Health Care Act began on March 8, 2017. To address concerns raised by both Democrats and fellow Republicans, the House Republican leadership released amendments to the legislation on March 20, 2017, followed by a second set of amendments on March 23, 2017. The House vote was originally expected to take place on March 23, 2017, but was delayed for one day, until March 24, 2017.
Following the announcement that the House vote would be delayed, President Trump stated that he would not continue to pursue an ACA repeal if the House could not pass this legislation. As a result, the ACA will remain in place at this time. However, Congress may choose to pursue their own ACA repeal and replacement in the future.