ACA Regulatory Changes on the Horizon?

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As Congressional Republicans work to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we are beginning to see movement on the regulatory front.  The executive branch agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), can make significant changes through regulatory and subregulatory guidance that could alter the impact of the ACA.

HHS, with its new Secretary officially in place, recently released a proposed ACA Exchange market stabilization rule.  The rule seeks to tighten up Exchange enrollment requirements, including shortening the open enrollment period from November 1, 2017 – December 15, 2017 with an effective date for coverage of January 1, 2018, increasing pre-enrollment verification of eligibility for special enrollment periods and amending the guaranteed availability rules so that insurers can collect past due premiums before re-enrolling individuals in coverage.

In addition, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is formalizing an informal policy of the Obama Administration that was set to expire.  The IRS confirmed it will not reject an individual’s tax return if it omits information about whether the filer had health insurance during the previous year.  Individuals are still required to have health insurance coverage or pay a tax but the IRS will probably have a hard time figuring out who actually owes the tax.

Although there is no repeal and replace just yet, we’re likely to see additional regulatory guidance coming from the agencies that will change the shape of the ACA.