During the week reviewed, no new bill was introduced which, if passed, would repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, and little else happened at the three main ACA enforcement agencies – DOL, HHS and IRS.
Department of Labor
The Department of Labor still has no Secretary and the nominee, Andrew Puzder, has not yet been given a hearing. A DOL.gov site redesign was apparent, but it says nothing regarding the agency’s implementation, or not, of Executive Order 13765, which commands ACA enforcement agencies to –
exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications,
“to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
Health and Human Services
Former Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) was confirmed as the new HHS Secretary February 9, 2017. On that date, most HHS web pages related to the ACA remained substantially as they were the day before President Trump’s inauguration. There was no mention of E.O. 13765. Nevertheless, the Price confirmation may be the most significant development of the week. If majority leaders in the House and Senate cannot produce soon a repeal/replace bill supported by a majority of each majority, the new HHS Secretary figures to become the project manager by default.
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Bulletins for February 6 and February 13 include no reference to the employer mandate tax assessment procedures forecast to be rolled-out in “early 2017.” We doubt that this prolonged silence was provoked by the regulatory freeze executive order, since a February 2 White House Memorandum seems to confine that freeze to “significant” regulations, and the employer mandate regulations were not deemed “significant” by the IRS. See 79 Fed. Reg. 8,577 (Feb. 12, 2014, left column). And no, the IRS website doesn’t mention E. O. 13765 either.
We doubt that Gershwin tune, “I Got Plenty O’ Nottin’,” was intended as political prophecy. It just turned out that way.