President-elect Donald Trump is unlikely to push through a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the short-term, but may put in piecemeal changes at first, which will affect many parts of employer-sponsored health insurance, according to the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

Repeal of the ACA is unlikely immediately, as the 2017 exchanges are already enrolling people and premiums are set. Therefore, 2018 would be the earliest the ACA could be repealed, said Joel Wood, senior director of government relations at The Council, in a Wednesday webinar sponsored by Benefit Advisors Network.

Bloomberg/file photo

Even if Hillary Clinton was elected president, something would have to have been done because of the way the exchanges are “cratering,” with insurers pulling out of markets and facing billions of dollars in losses, Wood added.

While the exchanges are mostly used by those without employer-sponsored coverage, changes to the ACA by Trump will also affect employers. The key issue will be buying coverage across state lines, causing carriers to scramble on how it will impact them, Wood said.

Although light on details on his plans during campaign stops, details now appearing on Trump’s transition website have “boilerplate Republican ideas,” Wood said.

Other changes that affect employer-sponsored coverage would include removing the employer or individual mandate for coverage and therefore also removing the reporting requirements associated with those mandates.

There will be lots of change coming. “Republicans will be punished and punished badly for years to come if they fail to uproot the ACA,” Wood says of removing the mandates. “Early speculation from [my] colleagues was that they would do this stuff in name only.”

In the last legislative year, The Council’s top priority was getting a delay on the Cadillac tax. Their second priority was a delay on employer-reporting requirements, which they were “narrowly unsuccessful on,” Wood said.

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