Most CPA executives favor repeal of Affordable Care Act, survey shows

By Neil Amato

More than 70% of CPA business executives want the Affordable Care Act repealed, according to a new AICPA survey.

A new survey of CFOs and other finance leaders, released Tuesday by the AICPA, showed that organizations are using a variety of strategies to combat health care cost increases, including higher deductibles and higher co-pays for employees. Survey respondents project that costs will rise both this year and next, regardless of what happens in Washington, where the debate about health care is ongoing.

The AICPA survey was conducted in February, before Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled their version of a health care coverage plan. That plan, released March 6, proposes replacing most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148, with a system whose changes include elimination of the Sec. 4980H shared-responsibility requirement, which calls for large employers to offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.

A large employer is defined as a company with 50 or more employees.

Changes to what’s called for under the Affordable Care Act might also include a reduction in regulatory requirements.

Regulatory requirements and changes are regular pain points for CPA decision-makers in the quarterly survey of economic sentiment. Regulation has often ranked as the top challenge for survey respondents, but in the first quarter was supplanted by employee and benefits costs.

Spending on health care is projected to rise for most respondents: 56% expect an increase of 6% or more this year, including 13% who expect costs to rise more than 10%. John Fruhwirth, CPA, the president of Archon Woodworks Inc., is among the respondents predicting a steep increase.

He said the Nebraska company, which employs 150 people, has increased co-pays and narrowed pharmacy benefit limits in response to increases. Fruhwirth hopes for some cost relief next year, mainly from the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Sixty-five percent of respondents have tried to contain costs through higher deductibles, and 49% have raised co-pays. Wellness programs to reduce future claims are the next most common strategy (41%). For the coming year, the top strategies CPA executives plan to employ are higher deductibles (35%), higher co-pays (31%), and wellness programs (27%). Additionally, 27% said they planned none of the available choices because their costs have been stable or gone down.

Neil Amato (Neil.Amato@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

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