Executive Order re: Health Care Plan Options
On October 12th 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order which directed federal agencies to review regulations surrounding three health care plan options:
- Association plans
- Short-term limited-duration insurance (short term health plans)
- Health reimbursement arrangements (HRA).
This Order does not create any new regulations. It does not include any specific directive on any of these health options. It simply instructs federal agencies to review existing regulations and to consider proposing new regulations and guidance.
In particular, the Order requests the agencies to focus on the following:
- Expanding rules that pertain to association plans so more employers are eligible to participate;
- Lengthening the period of coverage for short-term health plans and allowing for their renewal; and
- Offering additional flexibility in how Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) funds can be used, including with non-group coverage.
There is existing law addressing these subjects. When developing new regulations or guidance, agencies are bound by current law. Given the potential conflict between federal and state law, there is also the possibility of legal challenges arising. Therefore, developing new regulations surrounding these topics will not be immediate and can take up to a year or longer. Nothing in current law has changed. The Order merely asks agencies to review existing regulations and develop proposals within the confines of the law.
The executive orders does not make any changes to the employer mandate or the ACA reporting obligations. Employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees should continue preparations for 2017 ACA annual reporting.