With the Affordable Care Act filing season finally over for 2018, a collective sigh of relief is in order for US employers and those – like us – that help them out. But stay vigilant: complying with the ACA employer mandate in 2019 remains a must for US employers, and most likely next year as well – even with the continuing turmoil around ACA.
Turmoil around ACA?
After a federal judge in Texas ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional last December, he (and the White House) stated that pending the appeal process, the law remains in place. This appeal process will take a while – a decision is expected late this year – and is going to be interesting for sure. There is also no doubt that whatever the outcome of the appeal, the case will go to the Supreme Court (again) and that the Supreme Court won’t rule until after the 2020 election.
- Since March 25, the US Justice Department is supporting this Texas ruling that the whole ACA is unconstitutional.
- On March 26, House Democrats introduced a bill to defend and strengthen the ACA: the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions and Making Health Care More Affordable Act of 2019—and posted a one-page summary.
- On March 28, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., struck down the rule around association health plans, through which small employers can avoid some of the ACA’s coverage requirements that apply only to the small-group market. The current administration is expected to seek a stay of the ruling and appeal the decision.
- Meanwhile President Trump has promised a new GOP health plan by the 2020 election and the Democrats (all but 1) and 8 republicans passed a resolution on April 3 criticizing the Trump administrations actions to undermine the ACA.
And so the beat continues to go on for the employer mandate in 2019. Legally speaking, it is hard to imagine Congress moving forward on any legislation with a split House and Senate and a president opposed to keeping the ACA. And the Supreme Court most likely won’t rule until 2021, and a lot can happen before then.
So where does that leave US employers?
Healthcare will – again – be a hot topic in the 2020 election, but meanwhile, US employers with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents must stay compliant with all ACA coverage and reporting requirements in 2019 and most likely also in 2020.
Staying ACA compliant in 2019
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