During the first day of his Administration President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order highlighting the President’s stated intention to seek the prompt repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Pending repeal of the ACA, federal agencies were directed to take all legally permissible actions to minimize the economic and regulatory burdens of the ACA, including issuing waivers, deferrals, exemptions and delays from any provisions of the ACA imposing a fiscal burden on States, individuals, families, healthcare providers, healthcare purchasers (employers), insurers, patients and others.
Other than highlighting the President’s intent to shift the ideological direction of the nation, there appears to be little guidance on the implementation of the Executive Order. One thing that is abundantly clear, however, is that there will soon be more to follow.
We would also not expect significant further action until the President’s Cabinet members have been confirmed by the Senate.
As the Administration awaits the congressional repeal of the ACA, we anticipate that the Administration will, where available, continue to dismantle the ACA. Specific areas open for attack are not yet predictable, but we would not be surprised to see actions aimed at:
- Expanding hardship exemptions available to individuals seeking waivers of their requirement to acquire medical coverage or pay the applicable penalty for failure to acquire coverage. One mitigating factor is the legal requirement that anyone seeking an exemption under the law is still required to file a written request for the relief.
- Providing agencies extensions to the reporting and filing obligations. On November 16, 2016, the IRS, in an unexpected move, extended the deadline to provide information forms to employees from January 31st to March 2, 2017 (IES Notice 2017-70). The Notice did not extend the employer’s IRS filing due dates (February 28, 2017 for paper filings and March 31, 2017 for electronic filings). Employers may still obtain an automatic 30-day extension by filing form Treasury Form 8809.
- Continuing the freeze on the issuance of new or modified ACA regulations.