A Long Road Full of Roadblocks
The past few weeks have brought the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the forefront of the political stage yet again. After a significant battle among House Republicans, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) in an effort to repeal certain aspects of the ACA. This bill now moves on to the Senate where it faces several more obstacles, most notably a slim Republican majority, not all of which agree on what constitutes the best plan for repealing and replacing the ACA.
Many Republicans feel the AHCA went too far in granting states the ability to charge higher premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions while others feel it didn’t go far enough and left much of the original ACA in place, referring to it as “Obamacare Light.” As a result, the Senate is working on a whole new repeal and replace plan… Assuming that bill gets out of the Senate committee and passes in a full Senate vote, it will likely have to go back to the House for reconciliation where it will face scrutiny yet again. Then, if and when a new bill is signed into law, it will undergo a review by the regulatory entities (IRS, DOL and HHS, to name a few) assigned to the implementation of any legislative changes. The regulations that come out of those entities are what employers will need to consider as it relates to their compliance strategy.
All this to say, the road ahead for the repeal and replacement of the ACA is long and will contain several roadblocks that could derail the effort all together.
So, what are employers to do NOW?
- ACA is still law of the land – stay compliant: continue to track eligibility on a monthly basis. As indicated in our “ACA Penalties Are Coming” blog, the ACA Verification System provides the IRS with all the information necessary to begin levying penalties on non-compliant employers. In addition, the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has several million exchange notices waiting in the wings for the OK to release them to employers. While it’s unclear how soon these will be released, it’s very clear that non-compliant employers will likely be inundated with the burden of responding to these notices once they are released.
- Be aware that, even if the AHCA in its current form were to become law – although it effectively eliminates the Employer Mandate (by nixing the associated coverage penalties) – the employer reporting on IRS Form 1095-C would remain until at least the end of 2019 because the IRS needs this reporting to determine eligibility for the premium subsidies in that law. The complexities of the reporting will remain for employers in that they will still need to “know” which employees are eligible for coverage according to the ACA so that the form can be correctly completed, even if coverage is not offered by the employer.
Make sure you have a plan for compliance with the ACA. Want more information on these changes? Register for one of our upcoming webinars where we take the opportunity to educate employers on what compliance with the ACA means for them and their options to mitigate the risk of potential penalties.