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DURING ITS WANING DAYS, the Obama administration took actions that have an impact on small businesses and health insurance which may have an ongoing effect. On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act that was passed by Congress. The bulk of this bill consists of provisions on medical research, streamlined regulations for new drugs and medical devices, and improvements to mental health and substance abuse care. The bill was passed 94 to 5 in the Senate and 392 to 26 in the House. Included in the bill is a provision that allows businesses to use health reimbursement arrangements to compensate employees who purchase their own insurance. Starting on Jan. 1, 2017, a company with fewer than 50 full-time employees can reimburse employees for purchasing individual health insurance as if it were directly paying the premiums on a group health policy. Employees would not have to pay taxes on the company’s premium contribution, and the company also would not owe payroll taxes on it. The law limits reimbursement to $4,950 for individual insurance and $10,000 for a family plan, amounts that are indexed for inflation.

Even as Republicans pushed forward with plans to repeal the law, the Obama administration in late December issued new rules to address lingering issues with the ACA. The new rules include changes to the formula used to calculate payments to insurers under a program called risk adjustment, which was designed to shield insurers against financial losses from highcost enrollees. There was also a move to launch a pilot program to require documentation to make sure people signing up in the ACA’s extra signup periods actually qualify. “The [Obama] Administration will leave the Marketplace on a stable path that, when fully implemented, will ensure quality coverage is available for all Americans well into the future,” Andy Slavitt, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees the ACA, said in a statement. The ACA marketplaces are expected to remain in operation in some form for about two years as Republican lawmakers seek to delay some elements of repeal from taking effect. However, experts warn that even delayed repeal could cause significant disruption to the system.

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Bill  Quickel's - Insurance Plus Agencies Inc. 114 Court St. Pomeroy, OHio 45769


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Posted 1:36 PM

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