IRS has posted final 2015 forms and instructions for the Affordable Care Act's employer shared-responsibility (ESR) and minimum essential coverage (MEC) reporting. Employers, insurers, and others will use these forms to issue individual statements to employees and others with health coverage and file related IRS reports. Large employers will also use these forms to report employees' full-time status and plan eligibility. The first mandatory statements and reports on 2015 coverage are due in early 2016.
A new Senate bill (S 2045) would repeal the Affordable Care Act's 40% excise tax on high-cost plans, set to take effect in 2018. Introduced by Sens. Dean Heller, R-NV, and Martin Heinrich, D-NM, the bill comes as support grows for similar legislation in the House, where a majority of members are now cosponsoring one of two separate repeal measures (HR 2050 and HR 879).
Repeal will be difficult, however, given the projected revenue loss and likely opposition from many Senate Democrats and President Obama. House lawmakers are drafting legislation to modify the tax by creating an actuarial value-based safe harbor for health plans, increasing the inflation index for the tax's cost thresholds, and excluding employees' pretax HSA contributions from calculation of the tax.
Tuesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on “Examining Consolidation in the Health Insurance Industry and its Impact on Consumers.” Topics included possible effects of the proposed Aetna-Humana and Anthem-CIGNA mergers.
Also on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton released a plan for lowering prescription drug prices. The plan calls for ending direct-to-consumer advertising subsidies for drug companies, imposing dollar caps on monthly and annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for those with serious or chronic health conditions, clearing out the generic drug approval backlog in the FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs, and requiring rebates for low-income Medicare enrollees that are equivalent to rebates in the Medicaid program, among other proposals.