Last week, the House Budget Committee voted 19-17 to pass the GOP-backed American Health Care Act. The Act would replace the Affordable Care Act and make several modifications to the current healthcare system in the United States. Although the bill still needs to make it through the full House vote and the Senate, if passed there would be some key changes that businesses and individuals should be aware of.
The new rule would move away from the current premium tax credit system in which subsidies based on income and cost of living are provided to individuals to help buy insurance. Under the proposed rule, people would still receive subsidies but the amount would be based on age. Older people would receive more tax credits, with the caveat that insurers would now be able to charge older consumers up to five times more than younger consumers.
Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, and individuals, are required to purchase health insurance or otherwise pay a penalty tax. The new rule would drop the tax penalty, but has adopted measures to discourage gaps in coverage. Anyone who goes without insurance for more than two months would face a 30% premium surcharge when they buy a new plan.
Currently, businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees making an average of about $50,000 per year or less qualify for a small business health care tax credit. This is to help pay for employee’s premiums although the business is not required to purchase health insurance under the law. If the new rule passes, this small business tax credit would be repealed by 2020.
Insurance companies will still be required to cover basic benefits like maternity care, prescription drugs, and mental health care. After April 31, 2019, however, Medicaid will not need to offer these basic coverages. The new rule will also drastically reduce Medicaid funds, with each state having a fixed amount of money every year for every person who qualifies for Medicaid. Ultimately, the additional federal funding will be phased out by 2020.
The proposed rule encourages a shift among consumers to HSAs, or Health Spending Accounts. Beginning in 2018, the new rule would increase HSA contribution limits to match the out-of-pocket maximums under a high deductible plan, and non-prescription over-the-counter medications could be purchased with an HSA.
The full House was orginally set to vote on the proposed rulemaking on Thursday March 23, 2017. However, the vote was delayed until Friday March 23, 2017 by House Republicans leaders due to a lack sufficient support to pass the bill.
SGIA continues to monitor this critical rulemaking. Sign up to receive the most up-to-date regulatory and legislative information about specialty imaging.
On March 15, 2017 SGIA attended a hearing held by the Senate’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. The hearing, "STEM Education: Preparing Students for the Careers of Today and the Future", discussed the role of science, technology, engineering, and math in both primary and secondary education. Several stakeholders in the education field were present to encourage the incorporation of STEM fields in and out of the classroom. There was general agreement that students, especially young women, should be exposed to STEM subjects in the early stages of their education. One attendee argued that an interest in such topics would generate interest in other areas such as reading or writing. There was some general disagreement among the Senators present over whether such efforts should be mandated by law or rather encouraged through other means.
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On August 30, 2016, amendments to the Proposition 65 regulations in California were approved, marking the first change in the rule in over 30 years.
On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (the Act) into law, amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The following provides a brief overview of changes to the Act. SGIA is in the process of developing further information on the amendment package. Please check back for additional information as we will post it as it becomes available.
Amendments to TSCA include:
- The Act repeals the requirement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) apply the least burdensome means of adequately protecting against unreasonable risk from chemicals;
- Revises the USEPA’s authority to require the development of new information about a chemical by establishing a risk-based screening process; and
- Establishes a safety standard to ensure no unreasonable risk of harm to health or the environment will result from exposure to a chemical under the conditions of use, including the protection of potentially exposed or susceptible populations. The standard does not take cost or other non-risk factors into consideration.
SGIA continues to monitor the implementation of this important piece of legislation. Sign up to receive the most up-to-date regulatory and legislative information about specialty imaging.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce met on June 6, 2016 to discuss the final rule on overtime. These new regulations will extend overtime pay for all eligible salaried employees who make up to $47,476. The committee and its witnesses appeared to be divided over the necessity and potential effectiveness of this rule. Many supporting the rule stated that the costs incurred on employers will be minimal and that this rule will allow employees to have a better work-life balance. Those opposed to the rule claimed that the final rule asks too much of employers financially and that those in the nonprofit sector will not be able to comply with the rule. There was also concern that many businesses and non-profits may have to make adjustments to schedules and salaries in order to comply with the rule. Despite objections, the rule is final and will go into effect on December 1, 2016.
SGIA continues to monitor this important piece of legislation. Sign up to receive the most up-to-date regulatory and legislative information about specialty imaging.