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New Reform Initiatives Under Consideration

The federal government continues to establish the infrastructure framework for the Affordable Care Act – and 2013 is on its way to being a year of transition.  

Several new initiatives have been introduced into Congress so far this year to modify the forthcoming health care law. Among them is the The Small Business Health Relief Act of 2013.

As you’ve read here, a variety of provisions within the new healthcare law will begin to take effect in 2013 as state governments and insurance providers work to develop a framework for full compliance. Among the most important elements of the law is the establishment of the Health Insurance Marketplace with an open enrollment date of October 1, 2013.

But there are a number of other current Washington health care initiatives that you may not know about.  These include:

  • A bi-partisan effort to try and repeal a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers that took effect on January 1, 2013. The tax affects a large number of medical equipment products including surgical instruments, imaging devices, pacemakers and joint replacement apparatus. In cooperation with Congressional Republicans, 16 Democrats have appealed to President Obama to review the tax.1
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a fact sheet on February 4, 2013 that clarifies the rules for exemptions related to the individual mandate. The document highlights exceptions for temporary unemployment, certain religious affiliations and chronic low-wage earners.2
  • The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2013 is designed to discourage anticompetitive activities between health insurance companies and medical malpractice insurance providers. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 3, 2013 and has been referred to committee.
  • The Small Business Health Relief Act of 2013 is intended to help lower health insurance premiums and expand insurance choices for small businesses. The bill was introduced in the Senate on January 22, 2013 and has been referred to committee.

As the details of the Affordable Care Act become increasingly transparent, it is the intention of the federal government to work closely with the appropriate state agencies and insurance providers to ensure full compliance and a smooth transition. Businesses are in the process of seeking advice from their accountants, lawyers and insurance carriers to better understand the ramifications of the law and develop strategies that maximize employee coverage and minimize associated expenses.

 1 Forbes. “In 2013, Millions of Americans Face Obamacare Tax Hikes.” Sally Pipes, December 25, 2012.
2 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Fact Sheet: Individual Shared Responsibility for Health Insurance Coverage and Minimum Essential Coverage Proposed Rules.” CMS Media Relations, January 30, 2013.

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