Mounting Exchange Problems Generate Bipartisan Calls for ACA Amendments

November 01, 2013

With the nation focused this week on problems with the HealthCare.gov website and the cancellation of plans in the individual market, several bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that could significantly impact employers next year should the rollout continue to flounder and Congress be forced to pass something in response.  Although HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress this week that the ACA website should be running smoothly for most users by November 30, the administration's credibility regarding the Affordable Care Act is in decline and there is widespread speculation that the online system might not be completely ready until after the December 15th deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting in January.  In an op-ed this week, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) called for a an extension of the enrollment deadline to give Americans more time to weigh their options, and Vermont became the first state to announce that residents can stay on their existing health plans through March 31, 2014, because of the problems the state is having with its exchange.  Should the ACA rollout continue to have problems through December and January, other bills could be put into play.  Some introduced this week:

  • H.R. 3425 would require the HHS Inspector General to certify when the healthcare.gov website is fully operational, and give individuals at least 90 days to enroll in a health care plan after that date.  A number of similar bills have been introduced in the House and Senate.

  • H.R. 3338 would provide, because of problems relating to the operation of exchanges, for a hardship exemption from the individual mandate for the months of non-coverage.

  • H.R. 3406 and S. 1617 would ensure that individuals can keep their health insurance coverage.

  • H.R. 3367 would delay the tax on health insurance companies until 2016.
Other bills still in play:
  • H.R. 2988 and S. 1188 would change the definition of full-time employee to 40 hours per week.

  • H.R. 1295 and S. 232 would repeal the medical device tax.

  • H.R. 2843 and S.1180 would increase the transparency of Medicare data.