No matter the GOP’s best intentions, reducing Obamacare to nothingness probably won’t happen. However, convenience retailers will have to wait and see what component parts President-elect Donald Trump keeps and what goes away.
By CSD Staff
Few pieces of legislation in recent U.S. history have endured as much magnification, criticism and accolades as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Initiated by President Obama’s administration and passed by Congress in 2010, the law—known as Obamacare—has been lauded for providing 20 million Americans healthcare insurance and equally slammed for spurring confusion and a spike in premium costs.
And there’s more to come for the ACA as the next administration outlines its own healthcare blueprint.
The transition team of President-elect Donald Trump has released a sketch of his healthcare proposals with details of his intention to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare law. In part, the plan would allow people to buy health insurance across state lines and allow states to establish high-risk pools.
Last year, Congress passed a reconciliation bill that would have repealed the mandates that individuals have coverage and that companies with 50 or more employees provide workers with affordable insurance. Also, it would have done away with the federal subsidies by 2018, eliminated funding for Medicaid expansion and canceled a multitude of Obamacare-related taxes.
Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee helped write the language for the bill, which is now seen as one of the main paths forward to repeal portions of the ACA. It would also employ the same budget reconciliation rules Democrats used to originally pass the ACA in 2010.
This reconciliation option would leave in place the basic structure of the ACA, including the insurance exchanges and rules that require insurers to cover existing conditions and permit young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26.
It’s no coincidence that Price was recently tapped by President-elect Trump as head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Now that one of the prime critics of Obamacare is well positioned to plan the next steps of healthcare reform, is there reason for convenience retailers to be concerned?
“There should be optimism that employer mandate penalty exposure and some of the ACA’s administrative costs (including reporting obligations) will go away,” said David Fialkov, vice president of government affairs at the National Association of Truck Stop Operators. “It is unclear at this early stage whether and to what extent a replacement law can or will deal with cost issues, however.”
In his career, Fialkov has also served as legislative counsel to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
Prior to 2014, and for the purpose of setting health insurance rates, insurance carriers determined a “small group” is to be “community rated,” meaning rates for those employers would be based on the insurance carrier’s total book of business claims experience, and not the claims experience of that individual employer’s employee. That concept might also come under scrutiny.
“The biggest decision that will have to be made is whether ‘community rating’ is retained from the individual and small group markets,” Fialkov said.
In the c-store community, companies such as St. Romain Oil Co., which operates 10 Y-Not Stop locations throughout central Louisiana, will be monitoring the overhaul of the ACA closely. Annie Gauthier, chief financial officer and co-owner of St. Romain, agrees with Fialkov that companies shouldn’t fear the future of healthcare.
“I believe small and middle-sized chains should be optimistic about the potential changes to the ACA, although I think we’re facing more months (if not years) of uncertainty as we wait and watch to see what will change and how and when,” Gauthier said. “As an employer who proudly offers coverage to our team members, I look forward to a system that may better serve our team members and our company.”