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Human Resources Professionals Relieved When ACA Replacement Bill Is Pulled

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Everybody knows that the GOP's attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came to a rather ignominious end. But how did the human resources community feel about that outcome?

Human resources powerhouse Mercer addressed that question in a recent webcast and the results were eye-opening. Here are some statistics from the webcast, which asked a couple key questions of 509 benefits professionals.

On how they felt about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) being pulled:

  • Very relieved it did not pass — 24%
  • Relieved it did not pass — 32%
  • Disappointed it did not pass — 16%
  • Very disappointed it did not pass — 5%, and
  • No opinion — 23%.

Considerably more than half of the participants were not in favor of the AHCA, while just slightly more than one in five were disappointed it was shot down. Mercer also asked participants to rate priorities for improving current healthcare law — using 5 as the top rating and 1 as the lowest. Those results:

  • Reduce pharmacy costs — 4.4
  • Improve price transparency for medical services/devices — 4.1
  • Stabilize individual market — 4.0
  • Maintain Medicaid funding — 4.0, and
  • Invest more in population health and health education — 3.7.

Perspective? As Beth Umland wrote on the Mercer blog, "Policymakers should view this health reform 'reboot' as an opportunity to partner with American businesses to drive higher quality, lower costs, and better outcomes for all Americans."

A glance back

Why did the AHCA fail, despite Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House?

The answer starts with the fact that the GOP did not have the 60 seats in the Senate to avoid a filibuster by the Democrats. In other words, despite being the majority party, it did not have enough votes to pass a broad ACA repeal bill outright.

As a result, Senate Republicans had to use a process known as reconciliation in an attempt to reshape the ACA. Reconciliation is a process that allows for the passage of budget bills with 51 votes instead of 60. So the GOP could vote on budgetary pieces of the health law, without giving the Democrats a chance to filibuster.

The problem for Republicans was reconciliation severely limited the extent to which they could reshape the law — and it is a big reason the why AHCA looked, at least to some, like "Obamacare Lite."

Ultimately, what caused Trump and Ryan to decide to pull the bill before the House had a chance to vote on it was that so many House Republicans voiced displeasure with the bill and said they would not vote for it.

Specifically, here are some of what conservatives did not like about the American Health Care Act:

  • it largely left a lot of the ACA's "entitlements" intact — like government aid for purchasing insurance
  • it did not do enough to curtail the ACA's expansion of Medicaid
  • too many of the ACA's insurance coverage mandates would remain in place
  • the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would result in some 24 million Americans losing insurance within the next decade, and
  • it did not do enough to drive down the cost of insurance coverage in general.

Posted In: Human Resources, General; Congressional Activity; Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Want to know more? Read the full article by Tim Gould at HR Morning

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