Originally posted by Mike Nesper on November 24, 2014 on BenefitNews.com.
Employers should continue preparations to comply with the Affordable Care Act despite House Republicans’ recent lawsuit against President Obama. The lawsuit, announced Friday, challenges the lawfulness of subsidies for lower-income individuals and Obama’s postponement of the employer mandate.
The lawsuit won’t have any short-term effects on the ACA, says Benefit Advisors Network Executive Director Perry Braun. “I would recommend not delaying any implementation plans and to move forward,” he says.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on ACA subsidies in June — the high court agreed Nov. 7 to hear an appeal by four Virginians who are attempting to block those tax credits in 36 states. “Depending on the ruling and subsequent appeals, it could take until summer for this to be resolved,” Braun says.
The government will pay $175 billion to insurance companies over the next 10 years to help individuals who earn a yearly salary between $11,670 and $29,175 pay for health insurance. “If the lawsuit is successful, poor people would not lose their health care, because the insurance companies would still be required to provide coverage — but without the help of the government subsidy, the companies might be forced to raise costs elsewhere,” according to a Friday New York Times article.
The latest ACA-related lawsuit could have impacts beyond health care, Braun says. “The lawsuit is part of a potentially larger story, which is to have the judicial branch confirm what authority the president of United States has in changing or amending laws and what is the role of Congress,” he says. “The separation of powers is, in my opinion, the story here.”
It’s likely attempts to alter the health care law won’t be limited to the court room. In less than six weeks, Republicans will control both houses of Congress and top broker organizations expect another vote to repeal the ACA, however, they say, it’s more of a symbolic gesture than anything else. (So far, there have been 54 votes to either repeal or change the ACA).
Alden Bianchi, practice group leader of Mintz Levin’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice, says last week’s lawsuit is along the same line. “There is no substance here,” he says. “This is, as best I can tell, political. I would guess that the intention is to keep the ACA alive as a campaign issue going into 2016.”