The United States Senate once again failed to pass a bill that would change provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill was touted as the last best chance to revise health care reform. The Senate had until September 30, 2017 to pass legislation revision the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority vote, rather than a 2/3 vote. Knowing it didn’t have the votes to pass, Senate leadership postponed a vote on the bill.
The Graham-Cassidy bill would have made the following changes to the ACA:
- Individual Mandate. The bill reduced the penalty for failing to maintain health coverage to $0.
- Employer Mandate. The bill reduced the penalty for failing to offer affordable health coverage to $0.
- Medicaid Expansion. The bill ended expansions to Medicaid and replaced it with block grants to the States.
- Tax Changes. The bill repealed three ACA taxes: the medical device tax, the tax on over-the-counter medicines and the tax on health savings accounts.
- State Insurance Regulation. The bill allowed states to apply for a waiver to certain ACA insurance plan requirements, such as limits on pre-existing conditions and caps on annual or lifetime limits.
With the demise of the Graham-Cassidy bill and the expiration of the time period for the Senate to pass health care reform with a simple majority, it certainly seems as if the Affordable Care Act will be the law of the land for some time to come.