Thursday, December 19, 2019

Congress Repeals the Cadillac Tax and Health Insurance Tax

Congress overwhelmingly passed an end-of-year spending bill and a companion tax extenders measure that contain several agenda items, including full repeal of the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health plans. The SECURE Act, a measure to promote savings by easing compliance burdens on defined-contribution and defined-benefit retirement plans, was attached to the appropriations bill.

E-Verify also was extended for another year, along with other workplace-immigration programs.

The House approved these measures on Dec. 17 and Senate passage followed two days later. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bills into law.

Some of the items in the package that were previously passed by the House were consolidated in the new bills to facilitate the Senate's consideration and approval.

'Cadillac Tax' Repeal

The spending bill includes full repeal of the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health plans, which the House passed in July but the Senate had yet to consider. The spending bill also repeals two other Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes not paid directly by employers: the health insurance tax (HIT) on fully insured health plans and the ACA's tax on medical devices.

The Cadillac tax, included in the ACA but delayed several times from taking effect, is a 40 percent excise tax on the cost of employer health plans in excess of annual cost thresholds. While the excise tax was intended to target high-value plans, without repeal "modest plans will also be impacted, meaning millions of Americans and their families could face higher co-pays and deductibles, causing some to decline employer-provided health care," wrote Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and CEO of SHRM, in a letter sent in July to Congress.

Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, commended congressional leaders for "setting the stage for permanently repealing the Cadillac tax, the HIT and the [medical device tax], which would finally put an end to the higher health costs that come from the taxes and would improve access to more affordable coverage."

AHIP, a national association of health insurers, said that because insurers passed along the cost of the HIT to employers in the form of higher premiums, "families in the small-employer market could see their premiums go up an additional $7,000 over the next 10 years because of this tax," absent repeal.

HR consultancy Mercer noted: "By axing the ACA's Cadillac, health insurance (repealed effective 2021) and medical device (repealed effective 2020) taxes, the spending package removes nearly all of the law's major funding provisions, except the employer shared-responsibility assessments."

Excerpt from Stephen Miller, CEBSDecember 19, 2019

5th Circuit Says ACA Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled Dec. 18, in Texas v. United States, that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) individual coverage mandate, effectively repealed as of this year, is unconstitutional. But the appellate panel then sent the case back to the district court to adjudicate whether the individual mandate's removal leaves the rest of the law standing.

On Dec. 14, 2018, district court judge Reed O'Connor ruled that because Congress eliminated the penalty on individuals without ACA-compliant health coverage effective in 2019, the ACA's individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance "can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress's tax power." O'Connor, who sits in the Northern District of Texas, then struck down the ACA in full, concluding that the individual mandate is so connected to the law that Congress would not have passed the ACA without it. His ruling, however, left the ACA in place pending an appeal to the Fifth Circuit.

On appeal, the split panel of the Fifth Circuit instructed the district court to rehear the matter and to provide additional analysis on whether the rest of the law passes constitutional muster without the individual mandate.

Excerpt from SHRM article By Stephen Miller, CEBSDecember 19, 2019