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The Press Conference

President-elect Trump’s widely-covered press conference yesterday was originally supposed to cover any potential conflicts of interest generated by his business dealings, but ended up making a lot of health related news as well.

From our perspective, his statement that the “Repeal” and the “Replace” of the ACA would happen simultaneously may be the biggest news, and the best sign yet that the incoming administration is favoring the plan put forth by incoming HHS Secretary Tom Price instead of the other Republican plans on the table.

We’ll continue to hold our ears to the ground to keep you as updated as possible, because we know this may also take (much) longer than Mr. Trump expects.

All Eyes On You

As Washington prepares for next week’s inauguration of the President-elect, the Senate is busy grilling his cabinet nominees. We’re closely following the ACA repeal debate with an intense focus on preserving the tax exclusion for employer provided plans.

There have been a few game changers this week with the President-elect signaling his desire to minimize market disruption yet tweeting (earlier this week) his intent for a vote in Congress on the ACA’s replace plan as close to the repeal vote as necessary, if not simultaneously. The tweet caught Capitol Hill off guard as the GOP caucus is beginning to show a few signs of potential cracks on how to move forward without a clear replace plan.

The first vote to repeal the ACA, which will largely mirror last year’s repeal bill, will only need 51 votes to proceed through the Senate, but the replacement bill will likely need 60 votes, as it won’t qualify for reconciliation.

A handful of Senate Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul and members of the House Freedom Caucus, are urging Congress to extend the timeframe for House and Senate committees to craft repeal legislation. The Senate passed a measure in the wee hours this morning that instructs House and Senate Committees to draft repeal legislation by the end of the month. Potential market turbulence and political fallout around a replacement measure are driving the movement to buy more time to write a clear replace plan.

What Does This Mean For The Cadillac Tax?

These politics are also beginning to threaten the fate of efforts to repeal the Cadillac Tax. The Council continues to lobby hard to fully repeal the 40% excise tax after the last Congress delayed its implementation to 2020.

The tax’s repeal was initially sure to be included in the first repeal bill. It had broad last year on both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate. But that support is now encouraging leadership to include the provision in the potentially more controversial “replace” vote as a measure to encourage support from Members of Congress who might otherwise be on the fence or with the opposition.

Separately, some Democrats are wavering in their support for attaching the Cadillac Tax repeal to any ACA repeal measure, as they work to stand united against GOP repeal efforts.

The Council is strongly advocating for the repeal of the tax. Stand-alone legislation to repeal the tax was introduced in the House and Senate by Senators Dean Heller and Martin Heinrich, and Congressmen Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT).

Joel Wood, SVP, Government Affairs:

Michael Kanick, Digital Strategist:

Joel Kopperud, VP, Government Affairs: