On Thursday, May 4, 2017, the House passed the revised AHCA bill (H.R. 1628) with the "yes" votes coming in at 217, one vote more than the 216 needed. Now it's the Senate's turn to decide whether they will accept H.R. 1628 as written, or make amendments to the bill.
Future Still Uncertain
While this is a victory for the Trump Administration, repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not a done deal and could very well not happen at all, depending on the amendments made to H.R. 1628 as it is debated in the Senate.
There has been a lot of pre-planning to structure the voting rules in the Senate to come under the budget reconciliation process, which would enhance the opportunity of passing H.R. 1628 in the Senate. Under the budget reconciliation process, debate is limited, protecting the bill from filibuster, and 51 "yes" votes will be needed to pass H.R. 1628. Normal Senate rules require 60 "yes" votes to pass legislation. Currently there are 52 Republican Senators and 48 Democratic Senators; however, in the event of a 50/50 tie vote, Vice-President Pence can cast the deciding vote. Ironically, the lower vote requirement budget reconciliation process was the same process that was instrumental in passing the ACA through the Senate in 2010.
But, gathering 51 "yes" votes to pass H.R. 1628 creates a challenge for the Senate leadership and the Trump administration. Plus, if the Senate, as anticipated, amends H.R. 1628 to get it to pass the Senate, their version of H.R. 1628, would then need to be passed in the House, which would undoubtedly test the ability to hold that voting group together for a second time.
Details of the Bill
Although there is work still to be done, here are some key points in H.R. 1628:
Continue ACA Compliance
While the repeal and replacement of the ACA appears to have taken the first step, our advice to clients is still unchanged: Keep following current ACA law until the AHCA is signed into law and becomes effective.If you have questions on the current ACA requirements or the pending AHCA changes and tax reform issues, please contact your Eide Bailly professional or a health care reform specialist.
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