Health Reform in a Post-Election World

With Election Day here, readers may be wondering how the next President will affect the future of the Affordable Care Act.  President Obama continues to support the major provisions of the ACA and is pushing for its full implementation.  Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services has slowed its release of proposed regulations implementing health reform, but it is widely expected that if President Obama wins a second term, HHS will quickly release a backlog of such regulations.  Similarly, states will have to move quickly in order to announce by November 16 whether they will implement a health insurance exchange. 

Even if Governor Romney wins the Presidency, commentators have predicted that HHS may push to release as many final regulations as possible at least sixty days prior to Romney’s inauguration in an attempt to prevent holds or other revisions.  However, in a Romney administration, the fate of the ACA is uncertain.  Governor Romney has pledged to repeal the law, which may be difficult unless Republicans win enough Senate seats today to defeat a filibuster and maintain a majority of seats in the House of Representatives.  Romney has stated that he will issue an executive order allowing the government to issue “Obamacare waivers” to the states.  However, it is unclear whether or how such waivers could be granted under current ACA provisions.  Experts predict that Romney’s best chance of repealing at least part of the ACA may be through the budget reconciliation process, but even that is likely to be time consuming and contentious. 

For now, the only certainty is that health plan sponsors should stay tuned and watch for the election results.

Today’s post was contributed by Maureen M. Maly.

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