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Wednesday, 14 December 2016 15:01

The Three Trump Cabinet Positions that Most Impact Employers

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In President-Elect Trump’s administration, changes to our healthcare landscape seem to be inevitable.  Nominations for many prominent cabinet positions have already been made and will be considered by Congress starting in January.  What should you expect?  

Here are the three nominees that we think will most impact you as an employer. 

Secretary of Labor Nominee - Andrew Puzder (1)

The Department of Labor oversees the federal apparatus that investigates violations of minimum wage, overtime, and worker’s safety laws, as well as many other regulations impacting employers. Many sources expect that labor regulations might become more employer friendly under Mr. Puzder, but perhaps less employee-friendly.  Here are some highlights of his background:

  • Mr. Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns the fast food establishments Hardees and Carl’s Jr.  
  • He has been a critic of “ObamaCare” and the effort to raise the federal Minimum Wage, currently at $7.25 an hour (7)
    • In a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March 2016, Puzder said a $15 minimum wage, mandatory paid sick leave laws, and the ACA raise costs for employers and would force them to rely more on automated technology (12)
  • He also has been outspoken regarding the Obama’s administration overtime rule that would have raised the salary threshold for exempt workers ineligible for overtime pay to $47,000 a year (7)
  • Mr. Puzder has also spoken in favor of having robots replace workers at fast-food restaurants. In an interview with Business Insider, Puzder said robots are, quote “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.” (3, 13)

Secretary of Health and Human Services Nominee – Tom Price 

The stated goal of the HHS is to “enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans” and to provide essential human services. Mr. Price would be responsible for a department with an annual budget exceeding $1 trillion, health programs that insure more than 100 million Americans, and agencies that regulate food and drugs and sponsor much of the nation’s biomedical research. (4) 
Should Mr. Price be confirmed, he would be expected to play a large role in the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.  Here is some background on Mr. Price:

  • Tom Price is an Orthopedic surgeon and a six-term Republican Congressman from the northern suburbs of Atlanta (4)
  • Mr. Price, a critic of the ACA, has proposed the Empowering Patients First Act, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act and offer age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of individual and family health insurance policies.  (4)
    • This act will allow for a universal tax credit, adjusted by age, to every American who chooses to buy individual health insurance: $1,200 for those aged 18 to 35, $2,100 for those between 35 and 50, $3,000 for those over 50 and $900 per child (5)
    • Allow insurers licenses in one state to sell policies to residents of others (4)
    • Authorize business and professional groups to provide coverage to members through “association health plans” (4)
    • Just as is the case with Obamacare, people with pre-existing medical conditions or chronic illnesses couldn’t be denied coverage under Price’s approach – provided they had continuous coverage for 18 months before choosing a new policy (6)
    • The plan would also eliminate Obamacare-style mandates for insurers to include a standard package of benefits such as maternity services and pediatric care and allow them to offer cheaper, less comprehensive policies to younger people who are looking for a bargain (6)
  • He has introduced legislation that would make it easier for doctors to defend themselves against medical malpractice lawsuits and to enter into private contracts with Medicare beneficiaries (4)

Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Nominee – Seema Verma

While a sub-cabinet position, the CMS Administrator still has an extremely large role and must be confirmed.  This Administrator oversees programs that provide access to quality health care for 100 million Americans, including Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Health Insurance Marketplace. Based on Ms. Verma’s experience, we believe employers should expect Medicaid reform that may make it tougher to stay on the program, and perhaps for some employers, this may mean more employees may be coming onto your plan instead.  
A little about Seema Verma:

  • Ms. Verma is the president of a national health care consulting company, and is best known for her role in Indiana with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, whose gubernatorial administration reshaped Medicaid by requiring recipients to pay premiums and track their compliance with healthy behaviors (8)
    • This plan (known as Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0) covers Hoosiers ages 19-64 who meet specific income levels (approximately 138% of the Federal Poverty Level) (10)
    • The plan rewards members for taking better care of themselves 
    • It pays for medical costs for members and could even provide vision and dental coverage (9)
  • Ms. Verma has extensive experience redesigning Medicaid programs in several states (11)
  • She has served as the State of Indiana’s health reform lead following the passage of the ACA in 2010 (11)
  • She has worked with multiple public health agencies and state insurance agencies as they prepared for implementation of the ACA, including interpreting and implementing regulatory changes and understanding the impact of health exchanges on state insurance markets (11)
There will be many changes coming with the new administration that may impact employers. Stay tuned to our newsletter as we keep you updated on all of these developments, and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any specific questions!
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