WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House narrowly passed a Republican-sponsored plan May 4 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The American Health Care Act promises to rid retailers of several Obamacare mandates and aims to give states and individuals more control over healthcare coverage.
If approved by the Senate, the legislation will do away with both individual and employer mandates. Retailers with 50 or more employers would no longer be required to offer health insurance to full-time employees. Instead, the bill incentivizes Americans to purchase health insurance by penalizing gaps in coverage.
The bill will also delay the so-called Cadillac Tax until 2026. The rule taxes employers for offering health plans costing more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families to discourage excessive spending. States would also have the option to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s “essential health benefits,” allowing insurers to offer packages without coverage for maternity or mental-health treatment to help drive down costs.
The National Retail Federation came out in support of the bill despite its limited scope.
“The resulting legislation might not be anyone’s ideal, but it will advance in law the cause of bringing real relief from the ACA,” said David French, NRF senior vice president of government relations, in a letter to House members.
However, some small-business advocates say the bill would kill economies and small-business owners.
“This bill leaves small-business owners in a terrible position, one they were all too familiar with before the ACA—unable to afford premium hikes year to year, unsure their employees will be healthy and able to work, and uncertain of the future of their businesses,” said Amanda Ballantyne, national director for business coalition Main Street Alliance.