On Friday, January 20, 2017 President Trump signed his first Executive Order, “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) Pending Repeal.”
It was a moment Trump promised his supporters during the 2016 campaign–he vowed that on day one of his administration he would “ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of the ACA.”
The Executive Order instructs the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies with a authority or responsibility, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to exercise all authority and discretion to waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the ACA that would impose a fiscal burden on any state, or cost a fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individual, families, health care providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of health care services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products or medications.
Notably, employers are not specifically enumerated in the list of those being protected from fiscal burdens, although arguments, could be made that they are “purchasers of health insurance”.
The Executive Order also indicates that, as required, heads of agencies must comply with the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable statutes in considering or promulgating such regulatory revisions. Essentially, the required notice and comment process of rule making still stands as required.
Risk Adverse employers will wait for confirmation from various federal agencies that regulations they are in the process of complying with are on hold for the time being. Without confirmed Cabinet members for the Secretary of HHS, the Secretary of Treasury and the Secretary of Labor, there will likely be a lag in information directly from any one agency.
Republican leaders in Congress have gone back and forth on timeline—and procedure—for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, attempting to quell constituent fears they could lose their health insurance if changes are enacted.
During an appearance on “This Week,” Vice President Pence told ABC’s Martha Raddatz, “Any American who has insurance today, through an ‘ACA’ exchange or through the ACA plan itself, should have no anxiety about losing their insurance.”
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