The new presidential administration has indicated that enacting change to the ACA is a legislative priority, and has alternatively discussed repealing and replacing the ACA. In January 2017, Congress voted to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2017, that while not a law, is widely viewed as the first step toward the passage of legislation that would repeal certain aspects of the ACA. The 2017 Tax Reform Act includes a provision repealing the individual mandate, effective January 1, 2019. Further, on January 20, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the ACA to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the ACA that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. On October 13, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order terminating the cost-sharing subsidies that reimburse the insurers under the ACA. Several state Attorneys General filed suit to stop the administration from terminating the subsidies, but their request for a restraining order was denied by a federal judge in California on October 25, 2017. In addition, CMS has recently proposed regulations that would give states greater flexibility in setting benchmarks for insurers in the individual and small group marketplaces, which may have the effect of relaxing the essential health benefits required under the ACA for plans sold through these marketplaces. Thus, there may be further action to repeal, replace, or modify the ACA. While any further legislative and regulatory changes will likely take time to develop, and may or may not have an impact on the regulatory regime to which we are subject, we cannot predict the ultimate content, timing or effect of any healthcare reform legislation or the impact of potential legislation on us.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since ACA was enacted. On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year. These reductions went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2025 unless additional Congressional action is taken. On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. These new laws may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other health care funding, which could have a material adverse effect on our customers and accordingly, our financial operations.
Moreover, payment methodologies may be subject to changes in healthcare legislation and regulatory initiatives. For example, CMS may develop new payment and delivery models, such as bundled payment models. The U.S. federal government has set a goal of moving 50% of Medicare payments into these “Alternative Payment Models” by the end of 2018. In addition, recently there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which drug manufacturers set prices for their commercial products. We expect that additional U.S. federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that the U.S. federal government will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key employees and consultants, including our scientific advisors and founders, and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
We are highly dependent on our scientific advisors and founders and the principal members of our executive team, the loss of whose services may adversely impact the achievement of our objectives. While we have entered into employment agreements with each of our executive officers, any of them could leave our employment at any time, as all of our employees are “at will” employees. Recruiting and retaining other qualified employees, consultants and advisors for our business, including scientific and technical personnel, will also be critical to our success. There is currently a shortage of skilled executives and scientific experts in our industry, which is likely to continue. As a result, competition for skilled personnel is intense and the turnover rate can be high. We may not be able to attract and retain personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as from academic and research institutions, for individuals with similar skill sets. In addition, any failure of our programs to succeed in preclinical studies or clinical trials may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified personnel. The inability to recruit or the loss of the services of any executive, key employee, consultant or advisor may impede the progress of our research, development and commercialization objectives.