Spring 2019 Legislative Update

The spring season is officially here, and an abundance of legislative activity has arrived along with the change in temperature:

The DOJ Does an About Face

Last week, after a history of supporting the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) changed its tune to side with the December 2018 District Court’s ruling in Texas v Azar against the constitutionality of the entire ACA. So what happens now? The exact next steps are unclear now that the DOJ has decided not to challenge the District Court’s decision - but the status quo regarding the availability of individual subsidies in the marketplace, as well as enforcement of the employer mandate, remain unchanged for the time being.

Association Health Plans

Following the President’s October 2017 Executive Order, the Department issued final rules expanding the ability of individuals in related areas of business to affiliate formally and purchase Association Health Plans (AHPs). In response to suits filed by multiple attorneys general from states such as New York and California, the U.S. District Court in Washington ruled that the expansion of AHPs violates the ACA and ERISA, and as such, the final rules are unconstitutional.  What does this mean? Nothing immediately changes, but this ruling could be a sign of things to come and groups that have taken advantage of the new AHP flexibility should be aware that it could be short lived.

Bill in Support of the ACA

Amidst legal uncertainty following the DOJ’s new position in support of the invalidation of the ACA, some House members are attempting to add some power back to the ACA with a Bill called the ‘Protecting Pre-existing Conditions and Making HealthCare More Affordable Act’. A summary of this Bill is available here. Introduction of this Bill is a first step but it is far from entering the passage stage.