It has been a busy couple of weeks of speculation on the future of the Affordable Care Act. Only hours after taking the oath of office, President Trump issued an executive order directing applicable agencies to "ease the burdens of the Affordable Care Act." Meanwhile, Republican "repeal and replace" proposals continue to dominate the news, and major Affordable Care Act reporting deadlines are fast approaching. Amidst the ever-changing reports, proposal discussions, timing concerns, and general confusion around the future of the law, many employers are left wondering, "Where are we now?"

While the president's executive order represented his first major step toward fulfilling his promise of ACA repeal, the effects of the order remain to be seen. This is because the order's impact depends solely on the discretion of heads of the applicable agencies, many of whom have not yet been confirmed. Because the order's language is a vague request for action from the agencies themselves, its impacts on the ACA could range anywhere from minor to extreme.

In addition to the president's executive order, ACA repeal and replacement plans were a major topic of discussion at the Philadelphia meeting of Republican lawmakers last week, and while there is no consensus on a full strategy for replacement, those in attendance indicated that they plan to have a replacement strategy finalized in the coming weeks and months. The various proposals could range from allowing states to choose whether they retain the law, to reduction of some features of the law and retention of others, to a more complete elimination of the vast majority of the law's provisions.  Again, uncertainty reigns.

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