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Alexander-Murray Bill Makes Progress

Alexander-Murray Bill Makes Progress

A bipartisan effort to stabilize the individual market with short-term fixes to the ACA is gaining momentum in the Senate. In its current form, the bill would fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for two years while providing states with the option of more widely deviating from certain ACA provisions through what’s known as “1332 Waivers.”

What’s both refreshing and encouraging about this latest effort is that it is authored by a republican and a democrat, and has gained many co-sponsors from both parties and reportedly has the support of all Senate democrats. If true, it is “filibuster-proof,” meaning that if put to a vote, it could not be overturned in the Senate. If passed, the bill would be sent to the House for review.

This momentum is counterbalanced by comments from conservative Republicans in the House, including Speaker Ryan, who have stated their opposition to restoring CSR payments and by comments from President Trump, who has both praised the bipartisan effort and tweeted that: “I can never support bailing out ins co’s…” referring to the CSR payments.

As with all healthcare reform discussions in Washington, things change quickly and until changes are signed into law by the President; brokers, agents and employers should continue to make decisions based on current ACA law.

ACA Update
The IRS has just announced that it will no longer accept “silent” returns, those where the filer has neglected to indicate whether or not they maintained minimum essential health coverage as required by the ACA. This is an important signal from the IRS that they intend to continue to enforce the individual mandate. This is important information for agents, brokers, and tax advisors to communicate to their clients.

The IRS also announced (see the “What’s New” section) that transition relief for Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) is not available for the 2017 reporting year as it was for the 2015 and 2016 reporting years. The IRS describes various forms of transition relief previously available to ALEs.

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