In the first week of the new year, MMG was keeping a close eye on Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch’s decision not to run for reelection and the implications for the Senate Finance Committee, for which he serves as chairman. Plus, regulators will take on bitcoin at an upcoming meeting, and the Trump Administration puts forth new changes to the Affordable Care Act.
Tax Committee Chairman to Step Down
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah announced that he will not run for reelection in 2018, which means this congressional session will be his last as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Politico reports. His departure will leave a void in the chairmanship that Republicans will need to fill, should they retain their majority after the midterm elections. The top contenders for the post are Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Crapo of Idaho, though they both currently serve as chairmen of key committees (the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Banking Committee, respectively).
Hatch’s retirement also opens a key Senate seat in what is sure to be a contentious midterm season for the GOP. Rumors abound that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be running for the seat. CNN noted that Romney updated his Twitter location to Utah from Massachusetts on the same day as Hatch’s announcement.
“Hatch’s retirement also opens a key Senate seat in what is sure to be a contentious midterm season for the GOP.”
U.S. Regulators to Discuss Future Cryptocurrency Rules
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will discuss bitcoin at a meeting at the end of the month, The Hill reports. As the cryptocurrency has gained value exponentially over the past year, it has come under fire from regulators. The SEC has called it a volatile investment and said that cryptocurrencies are often a guise for unregistered securities.
Future of ACA Uncertain—Still
In pursuit of its goal to end the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration is proposing changes to the requirement that small businesses and self-employed individuals buy health care plans compliant with the law. The changes would enable some businesses that “share geography or an industry in common to form an association and sell members health policies that are exempt from some of the law’s requirements,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
If the changes go into effect, they would deal another critical blow to the law and create an avenue for those with lower medical costs to reduce their premiums—possibly at the expense of raising premiums for those with higher medical costs.
The move would allow many employers to circumvent the law’s requirement that health care plans cover pre-existing conditions. It would also greatly lower the costs for many self-employed individuals who don’t get government subsidies to assist with their premium payments. Both the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation have come out in favor of the proposal.
Ben Marsico is ACG Global’s manager of legislative and regulatory affairs.