Last Week’s National Election Plus A New Supreme Court Challenge
Lead to Questions About the Affordable Care Act’s Future

Following last week’s national elections there has been a great deal of news and speculation related to the future of the Affordable Care Act. While we don’t know exactly what will happen in the months and years to come we believe that the law will soon face a round of new political challenges, as well as one from the US Supreme Court. In light of the questions many clients have had in recent days, I am pleased to offer a bit of perspective about the latest news concerning the new law.

GOP Senate Plans To Target ACA “Piece by Piece”:

Legal Alert - Review IRS Rule on Federal SubsidiesFollowing victories that provide the Republican Party majority control of both the United States House and Senate GOP leaders outlined a prospective legislative agenda to continue seeking ways to dismantle all or parts of the law that took effect in January of this year. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), for example, was widely quoted last Thursday about his plan to hold a vote on a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as well as to attempt to pass smaller bills eliminating or amending specific aspects of the law. Senate Majority Leader-to-be Senator Mitch McConnell stated, “We’ll be addressing the law in a variety of ways. Some of the provisions most often mentioned to be under attack in the months ahead are the individual mandate, taxes on medical devices, possible employer penalties for not providing insurance and reducing individual subsidies.”

Of course, any significant change will likely face a Presidential veto. Speaking from the White House late last week President Obama stated, “On health care, there are certainly some lines I’m going to draw,” adding, “Repeal of the law I won’t sign. Efforts that would take away health care from the 10 million people who now have it and the millions more who are now eligible to get it, we’re not going to support.” The President also said he would not consider eliminating the ACA’s individual mandate, stating, “The individual mandate is a line I can’t cross.”

My guess is that little will actually change, at least over the next two years…

Supreme Court Decides To Hear Case That Challenges ACA Subsidies

While we don’t know what might change, if anything, we do now know that the Supreme Court decided last Friday to hear a case that challenges health insurance subsidies within the Affordable Care Act. Opponents of the law are challenging language in the law which states that subsidies, offered in the form of tax credits, will be offered in exchanges ‘established by the state’. Opponents argue that that language nullifies the subsidies offered in the 36 states (Florida being one of those) that do not operate a ‘State’ marketplace but, instead, rely on the Federal government’s Federal Exchange Marketplace.

The fact that the Supreme Court found reason to take up this challenge has surprised many and should they deem the arrangement illegal it could doom the law. Nationally, 86% of ObamaCare enrollees received subsidies while 91% of the nearly 1,000,000 enrolling here in Florida received them. The Supreme Court will likely consider the case next Spring with a ruling expected in June 2015. Until then, the professional agents and Underwriters here at Morris & Reynolds will continue to advise our clients that the new law is here to stay for the long term.

To help make sense of what the Supreme Court is doing, and why, attached please find a fine update from our Benefit Advisor’s Network (BAN). Morris & Reynolds is South Florida’s only BAN member and we are pleased to share the attached outline with you. That said, nothing (for now) has changed. Open Enrollment for ObamaCare (individual health insurance via the Federal Exchange Marketplace) begins November 15th for coverage that can start January 1st, 2015. The Individual Mandate that requires all Americans to have health insurance will begin its second year on that same date, January 1st, 2015, and for those who do not comply, they face an ever increasing fine (in 2015 that fine increases to 2% of one’s gross income or $ 325.00, whichever is higher). The ‘large’ (now defined as employers with 100 or more employees) mandate also begins January 1st 2015 as large employers face stiff fines of $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 per employee should they not offer ‘affordable’ coverage that offers ‘minimum value’.

While we realize all of this is confusing and seems to be (and in fact is) perpetually changing and evolving, there is good news. Every agent and underwriter here at Morris & Reynolds Insurance is a certified healthcare reform expert. Whether you are an employer or an individual, we have the answers that you need to navigate through all of the choppy water that is America’s effort to reform health care and health insurance. Please contact us at any time as we are most happy to help.

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