The Mid-term Elections

In yesterday’s elections, the Republicans increased their majority in the House of Representatives by 13 seats and obtained a working but not veto proof majority in the Senate with 52 seats and a chance to gain two more in Alaska and Louisiana. Never underestimate the power of the gavel. Business Insurance and Modern Healthcare have articles on where the Affordable Care Act may fit in the Congressional Republican’s agenda.

The FEHBlog heard the President say today that he would veto bills to undo the Affordable Care Act but would consider bills to improve the Act. One item in bipartisan Congressional cross hairs is the medical device tax. The medical device tax like many other ACA taxes is a demonstrable job killer. Nevertheless, the President threatened to veto a repeal of that tax in 2012 before it took effect in 2013. It will be interesting to see if the President will reconsider that position or green light other changes with bipartisan support such as changing the ACA’s definition of full time employee (30 hours) to match reality (at least 35 in the FEHBlog’s view).  Business Insurance suggests that the Republicans also may have their eye on repealing the transitional reinsurance fee and the Cadillac plan tax. Hopefully, the health insurrr fee would be in that repeal mix too. But nothing is simple. 2015 and perhaps the lame duck session will be interesting.

In another interesting development, Reuters reports that a federal district court rejected the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s motion for a preliminary injunction against a Honeywell employee biometric screening program. The EEOC alleges that the program which the ACA encourages violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Anti-Discrimination Act. This is the EEOC’s third recent lawsuit challenging the legality of employer wellness programs which are are quite common among large employers but have not entirely caught on yet with the FEHBP.

 

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