By: Mary Thompson, Capstone Brokerage President, January 24, 2017

One of the first orders of business for President Trump after taking office was to sign an executive order to minimize the financial burden of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). An executive order is an official document that the president signs and will then in turn declare government policy. Think of the order as a mission statement; it is not something that can instantly change the law. An executive order is how a President can give instructions to government agencies and departments to operate in different aspects of government. An executive order is legally binding and will be included in the official journal of government. It is important to understand that an executive order CAN NOT reverse a law that was passed by Congress, thus making it limited in scope in comparison to a piece of legislation. Any current president can, however, overturn any past president’s executive order. It is very common in fact.

So what does the signing of the executive order mean for the Affordable Care Act? Well, it means the intention is put forth for change to begin on the law. Basically it is a statement to the public that there will be changes made to the current law. It does not mean anything is changing immediately.

The executive order is currently pending repeal of the law. Many business owners and employees may be wondering what this means for the current regulations for healthcare coverages and benefits currently in place for their employees. It is imperative to understand that with the signing of this executive order, a burden of further guidance is needed. Nothing is changed YET…

Compliance is still 100% required under the law until further guidance is issued or legislation is put forth. Therefore all ACA requirements remain in affect as well as the all penalties for noncompliance.

Part of the executive order makes it clear that President Trump’s administration is seeking the immediate repeal of the ACA. The executive order makes a clear call to agencies to use authority and discretion to:

– Waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any ACA provision or requirement that would impose a fiscal burden on states, individuals, health care providers, health insurers, and medical device and product producers (including fees, taxes, and penalties);

– Provide greater flexibility to states, and cooperate with them in implementing health care programs; and

– Encourage the development of a free and open market for the offering of health care services and health insurance.

It is imperative that the executive order is implemented in a manner that remains consistent with applicable law. One part of this is the Administrative Procedure Act that will require extended review of any public comment on any federal rules which may be proposed as a result of the executive order.

Going forward, any deferrals, exemptions, delays, or changes made to any ACA requirements will be promptly reported.

So what does all this mean? Trump’s executive order he signed the other day does not change the current Affordable Care Act requirements, penalties or mandates. All requirements for ACA still have to be met until we receive further guidance from the legislative branch. It is still REQUIRED to remain ACA compliant until we are given further notification from Congress as to what the future holds for the Affordable Care Act law. Should you have any questions regarding this contact your insurance broker for further information.