MedicareIf you track national health care policy developments, you’ve been busy lately.

Following weeks of growing declarations from Democrats in support of Medicare for All, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tamped down exuberance over any plans to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Then the US Justice Department spoke up.

In a March 25 statement to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Justice Department lawyers said US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling should be affirmed—that the entire ACA coverage mandate is unconstitutional, and since the provision is inseverable from the ACA, the entire Act is invalid.  The ACA remains in place as the District Court ruling is under appeal.
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A new rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on October 26, 2018, would revise the way the agency validates the risk adjustment data and collects repayments from Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations. With the new methodology, CMS is expecting to return $4.5 billion in savings to the Medicare Trust Fund over 10 years, according to an October 26 CMS news release.
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Anticipating open enrollment season for coverage in 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released coverage and premium information that will factor into consumer decisions about Medicare and individual commercial plans offered through exchanges. Enrollment and premium trends also inform regulatory and broader policy decisions at both federal and state levels.
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This is the third article in our series on Association Health Plans (AHP). This week’s discussion focuses on the mixed reaction to the recent Department of Labor (DOL) AHP.

In the health benefits market, some state-based associations, such as Wisconsin’s largest business association, have announced their intent to create an AHP. On the other hand, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a long-time advocate of AHPs, is declining to establish an AHP because the rule falls short of what the NFIB felt was needed to establish an AHP, according to reports.  
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This is the second article in our series on Association Health Plans (AHP). This week’s discussion focuses on the potential impact of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) decision to relax some AHP requirements.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently expanded the ability of small groups and the self-employed to obtain health coverage through AHPs. A final rule published June 21 eases certain AHP requirements and restrictions.
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A new federal rule gives small employers and the self-employed an additional avenue for obtaining group health coverage.

The final rule, released by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) June 19 and published June 21, broadens the definition of “employer” for purposes of determining who can establish multiple employer group health plans under section 3(5) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
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On October 17, 2017, the IRS announced that it will not accept electronically filed tax returns for the year 2017 (to be filed in 2018) that fail to address the health coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The “IRS Statement on Health Care Reporting Requirement” notes that “‎[t]axpayers remain obligated to follow the law and pay what they may owe at the point of filing‎. The 2018 filing season will be the first time the IRS will not accept tax returns that omit this information.” The prior guidance called into question whether the IRS would enforce the individual mandate provisions of the ACA. The new guidance makes clear that it will do so.

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After a month of spirited efforts to accommodate the disparate interests of the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group, Amendments offered by Representatives Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Fred Upton (R-MI) facilitated the hurried House passage of H.R. 1628 – – the American Health Care Act of 2017. Passed as a “reconciliation bill” (more on that later), the House voted 217-213 on May 4, 2017, to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make sweeping changes to the nation’s health care system.

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