In an earlier post, we reported on the passage of H. 3822, “An Act Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care,” (the “Act”), the purpose of which is to shore up the finances of the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program and its Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The law, which is a temporary measure, has two components or tiers.

Continue Reading Proposed Regulations Issued Implementing Massachusetts Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) Supplemental Contribution

A recent report from the nation’s top actuaries takes a sobering look at the challenges policy makers face in creating a viable individual (i.e., non-group) health insurance market—a critical component of any plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Published by the American Academy of Actuaries, the report, entitled An Evaluation of the Individual Health Insurance Market and Implications of Potential Changes outlines, without a hint of partisanship, the necessary conditions for a sustainable individual market, examines the extent to which those conditions are currently being satisfied, and discusses the implications of proposed changes to either improve the ACA insurance market reforms or (as is most likely the case) replace them with an alternative approach.

The paper offers an unvarnished explanation of the impact of the relevant actuarial principles that informed the ACA and that must be negotiated in the process of its replacement. Any policy maker hoping to expand (or at least to expand access to) health insurance coverage, control rising health care costs, and increase the quality of medical outcomes—the three goals of the ACA—would be well advised to read this paper. The actuarial principles expounded in the paper appear to transcend law and politics and any ACA replacement plan that fails to take them in account may face significant, if not insurmountable, hurdles in achieving its objective.

Continue Reading The Future of the Affordable Care Act Week 6: Focus on the Individual Health Insurance Market

The Trump campaign promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. On the campaign trail, candidate Trump was particularly critical of the ACA’s individual mandate, the subsidization of premium charges to older individuals by younger individuals, and the coverage mandates on insurance products offered on the exchanges. In contrast, he was in favor of keeping the ban on imposing pre-existing condition limitations and allowing dependents to remain on their parents’ coverage to age 26. So we are not without some clues as to the details of the ACA’s replacement.

As the campaign promise morphs into legislation, there are some sources that give us a sense of what the future has in store for the regulation of the U.S. health care system. These include:

This post examines the Trump/Pence transition plan. In the next two posts, we will turn our attention to the Ryan and Price plans. All three plans share common features. The particular elements and terms of these plans have been the subject of much study and commentary. Much less is known about how these components will fit together. Nevertheless, we expect that these plans taken together contain many if not most of the elements of the ACA’s replacement.

Continue Reading The Future of the ACA (Week 3): The Trump Plan, “Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again”

Written by Alden J. Bianchi

While employers sometimes view the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility (or “pay-or-play”) rules in isolation, they don’t operate that way. Instead, they exist side-by-side with other provisions of the Act. In particular, the Act’s rules providing premium tax subsidies to low- and moderate-income individuals correlate with an employer’s liability for assessable payments. Of interest to employers is that, generally, where there are no individual subsidies, there are no employer penalties.

In a recently issued revenue procedure (Rev. Proc. 2014-37), the Treasury Department announced adjustments to parameters that impact premium tax subsidies. One of the adjustments made changes to a table used to calculate an individual’s premium tax credit. While the adjustments addressed premium tax credits under the Act, it was not immediately apparent what impact, if any, the change would have on employers. As it turns out, the answer is, none.

Continue Reading The Affordable Care Act—Countdown to Compliance for Employers, Week 20: 9.5% ≠ 9.56% (And Why It Matters to Applicable Large Employers)