Government, Health Care, and Law

Attorney: Full repeal of Obamacare unlikely

Warner, Norcross & Judd partner believes parts of act that covers more than 24 million will be revamped.

November 18, 2016
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Throughout his run to the White House, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly pledged his intentions to scrap and replace President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But in the wake of Trump’s historic win on Election Day, the president-elect appears to have walked back some of his harsher rhetoric, first in an interview with the Wall Street Journal and again in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Following a sit down with Obama two days after the election, Trump told the Wall Street Journal he was open to keeping some of the more popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Namely, Trump said he would like to keep the provision that allowed children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26 and the provision that prevented discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.

Trump’s softened stance on Obamacare fanned the flames of discussion about what shape the health care policy would take under the new regime. There is much up in the air, but a full repeal of the bill seems unlikely, said Norbert Kugele, a partner at Warner, Norcross & Judd who has worked to help employers remain in compliance with the law since its passage in 2010.

“I think what will happen is we’ll end up with some parts of the act remaining, but others being revamped or going away entirely,” Kugele said. “I think we will end up with something based on the Affordable Care Act that ultimately looks a little different than it does today, but I don’t think it’s something that’ll happen immediately.”

According to a study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute, a full repeal of Obamacare would leave more than 24 million Americans currently receiving either Medicaid or marketplace coverage without health insurance by 2021. A disruption of government services on such a large scale has been called “unprecedented” by one of the co-authors of the report.

“I don’t think that either political party wants to pull the rug out from that large of a group of people,” Kugele said. “They’re going to find some way for people to have these benefits.”

As for what parts of the bill might be picked off, Kugele hypothesized the employer responsibility rules, which he described as “cumbersome and burdensome” is one likely target for repeal. Additionally, a “Cadillac Tax,” which already has been delayed to 2020, is unlikely to stick around under the Trump administration, according to Kugele.

However, any prediction concerning how Trump will approach the restructuring of the health care system comes with a massive grain of salt.

“At this point, we don’t exactly know what’s going to happen,” Kugele said.

But as the future of the Affordable Care Act remains up in the air, Kugele said the best thing for employers currently gearing up for the second year of reporting responsibilities is to continue under the assumption those reports will need to be filed.

“At this point, the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land,” Kugele said. “I think employers have to continue to comply with the Affordable Care Act until they start seeing something official from the government saying you don’t have to do one thing or the other.”

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