Why the American health care act works for retailers

With the House set to vote within the next week on whether to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, it is helpful to take a look at the legislation that is up for consideration.

The American Health Care Act would repeal key parts of the existing Affordable Care Act under “budget reconciliation” procedures. That means the legislation can get through the Senate with only 51 votes rather than the 60 that would normally be required to overcome a filibuster, but limits the repeal to provisions of the ACA that have a revenue impact. Nonetheless, the AHCA is a very good deal for retailers overall. It provides a clear opportunity to pass at least a partial ACA repeal that can be signed into law by President Trump, who is eager to repeal the ACA. NRF strongly supports the AHCA and will include it among the key votes on our voting scorecard.

The AHCA contains many long-sought victories for retailers, including:

  • The effective repeal of the employer mandate by reducing the penalties for non-compliance to zero.
  • Health insurance premium savings by repealing the ACA’s health insurance tax, medical device tax and pharmaceutical tax permanently and repealing the so-called Cadillac Tax on high-value health plans until 2025.
  • Additional health savings account and flexible savings arrangement flexibility.
  • A substantial move toward reforming Medicaid.

Retailers want real — but achievable — reform now, not the indefinite prospect of ideological gains sometime in the future.

The House Budget Committee approved the legislation by a narrow 19-17 vote this week, setting the stage for consideration by the full House. But if the intense debate and all-night committee sessions that it took to get this far are any indication, the path to enactment remains bumpy. The House Rules Committee still needs to set guidelines for the debate by the full House. And while all signs point to the AHCA passing the House, approval of the Senate will still be needed before the bill can get to the White House.

We have little patience for lawmakers who criticize the partial ACA repeal for not being a full and complete repeal. Those lawmakers cannot demonstrate that they have the 60 Senate votes necessary to beat a filibuster, hence the budget reconciliation approach.  NRF adamantly opposed enactment of the ACA but we are satisfied with the very meaningful reforms reflected in the AHCA. The AHCA is a bill that can — and we believe will — be signed into law this year. Retailers want real — but achievable — reform now, not the indefinite prospect of ideological gains sometime in the future. In other words, we should not let perfect be the enemy of good.

The AHCA needs retailers’ support. Retailers who believe in health care reform should contact their representatives in the House and Senate today and pledge support for the AHCA.