By: Shraga Jacobowitz
Donald Trump has been saying from Day One of his campaign that if he is elected President, one of his first acts will be to repeal ObamaCare. Combined with Trump’s hard stance on immigration, a staple of Trump’s campaign platform which can affect some business’ hiring policies, business owners are left to wonder how the new administration will affect their HR, insurance coverage and benefit packages. After Trump’s shocking (shocking to Hillary staunch supporters, at least) win, experts are not so surprised to hear that Trump doesn’t plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety. Trump stated to The Wall Street Journal that he would consider keeping two of [ACA’s] most popular provisions, hinting that a complete repeal and replace is not in the future plans.
In all honesty, repealing Obamacare is not as simple as Trump’s platform had suggested. As a report released by PricewaterHouse Coopers last week stated, “The White House is just one part of a much larger machine. To really put his stamp on health policy, Trump must work with a patchwork of federal lawmakers, regulatory agencies, trade and advocacy groups and the Supreme Court.” In other words, change to the Affordable Care Act are going to be long and slow in coming. In addition to the holdup that will occur with Trump needing to work with these various institutions, his administration will definitely balk at the political ramifications of leaving over 20 million people suddenly without coverage. Without a viable replacement proposal that can lower the number of Americans left without coverage, repealing ObamaCare is in no way going to be as instantaneous as Trump’s campaign rhetoric indicated.
In fact, as the Obama administration was quick to report via Twitter the day immediately following Trump’s election, many Americans are still enrolling on The Exchange.:
“Best day yet this Open Enrollment. Nov 9: Over 100K plan selections on http://HealthCare.gov . Consumers shopping & enrolling. #GetCovered”
While an entire repeal and replace is not in the immediate works, the Republican administration can deliver on Trump’s campaign promises through several smaller changes, which may include, but are not limited to:
- Stopping the Legal Fighting: While the outgoing administration has been appealing both the ruling stating that it is illegal to pay insurance companies to help keep health insurance costs down for low income clients and fighting lawsuits against the mandate that employers pay for birth control for women covered under insurance plans, the Republicans would be smart to drop the appeals and stop the fighting, upholding the Federal court’s May decision and making Conservatives happy.
- Exchanging the Exchange: The web-based system for buying health insurance has been highly unpopular and unnecessary. Trump has put forward the idea of allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines that could lower costs by creating more competition.
- Repealing the Mandate: While not repealing the entirety of ObamaCare, the Trump administration may target the individual mandate to buy health insurance and employer mandate to offer insurance to employees (business over 50 employees), which has proven extremely burdensome on small to mid-level companies. However, targeting the individual mandate, may have one caveat. Experts warn that if Trump decides to uphold the regulation that carriers must accept preexisting conditions, then by default he will also need to uphold the individual mandate to buy insurance as well. Keeping the former without the latter will simply cause a devastating dynamic where Americans will not buy insurance until they actually need it.
- Doing NOTHING: That’s right, the easiest way for the Trump administration to steamroll ObamaCare is simply to stop promoting open enrollment on the Exchange. Timothy Jost, a professor emeritus at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and an expert on health care policy explains why, stating, “It has been a full court press by the Obama administration since 2010 to get this thing implemented and it has taken a Herculean effort. As soon as it stops moving forward, it could start moving backward pretty quickly. Almost just by doing nothing, there could be some very negative effects.”
But Jost also has a word of warning for those Americans and business owners who feel that Trump’s win means an end to the troubles ObamaCare has caused, stating, “Frankly, everything that has gone wrong with the health care system for the past six years has been blamed on ObamaCare,” Jost says. “Everything that goes wrong with the health care system for the next four years will be blamed on TrumpCare. People who think we can just repeal Obamacare and everything will be great are in for a very, very, very rude surprise.”
So whether the Trump administration delivers on overall change (repeal & replace, which isn’t looking very likely) or implements smaller changes (meaning we won’t be seeing the end of ObamaCare just yet), businesses will need to be able to navigate the complicated health insurance regulations that can affect them. And despite how Trump will fulfill his campaign promise (which still remains to be seen), the fact remains that every new administration brings with it change that impacts both employer and employees. Having the resources, strength & security that a PEO provides behind your company’s insurance & benefit packages, can help your company weather whatever change Trump’s administration does end up implementing.
Furthermore, using an independent PEO consultant during these times of healthcare and policy uncertainty, can ensure minimal upheaval with whatever changes may be coming down the pipeline. As the Trump administration unfolds their plan for a “better” health care system, a PEO consultant stays up to date with the changes and new regulations so that they can ensure that their clients’ PEOs are still working for them regardless of the new political climate.