ACA Preparations Still Continue Despite Uncertainty

Posted January 13, 2017 by Mary McGinley

In spite of Donald Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and the Republican-led Congress to set that process in motion, employers are still moving full steam ahead in order to be in compliance with the current law that is in place.

According to Steve Wojcik, Vice President of Public Policy for the National Business Group on Health, “Whatever changes to the ACA or other legislation affecting health benefits pass, they are likely to be done step-by-step with long lead times before major changes take effect,” he said. “For now, the ACA is still the law of the land and nothing has changed.”

As of 2015, the employer mandate as outlined within the ACA requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health care coverage. Deadlines were put in place for the first time last year. In order to ease the potential strain on businesses in order to be in compliance with the law, the government extended employee notification and Internal Revenue Service’s filing deadlines.  This will not be the case for 2017 according to Tracy Watts, a senior partner at consulting firm Mercer.

“The deadlines for 2017 are really deadlines,” she said. “Last year, the deadline for filing to IRS was extended from March until June. That’s a pretty big difference.”

The extensions served as a kind of learning curve, but now employers face penalties for not reaching the deadlines or for any missing or incomplete reporting.

Employers must meet the first deadline of January 31st for distributing 1095 forms to their employees. This form includes information about their health insurance coverage so that workers can have these for their income tax returns. The deadline for electronically filing forms to the IRS to show that healthcare is being offered is March 31, 2017.

For some companies, having this information gathered in order to issue to hundreds or even thousands of employees in time for the set deadlines can seem like a daunting undertaking and so many are finding they need to have a full-time person dedicated just to the task of assembling that information.  Some companies find it to be such a strain on their HR departments that they hire outside companies in order to assist with the process.

One such company is ADP. According to Ellen Feeney, vice president and counsel, global compliance at ADP, in order for employers to keep up with compliance, they must view the process as an annual reporting of events and validate their ACA status on a monthly basis. “It’s important to focus on always gathering and improving your data,” Feeney said. “ACA compliance will continue to evolve as laws and requirements continue to change. Employers will need to focus on ACA compliance as a part of their daily activities.”

But there is some uncertainty ahead as efforts to repeal the ACA pick up steam, according to Feeney.

In spite of the changes in Washington, Feeney asserts that changes to the ACA will not be happening overnight. The Affordable Care Act is the law and will remain so until it no longer is the law. Even with a wholesale replacement of the ACA, those changes are likely to take time after being set forth by Congress.

No matter what kind of changes are anticipated under the incoming Congress or Administration in Washington, your company needs to be compliant with the law now. Don’t risk facing penalties for non-compliance with the ACA and other labor laws that are now in effect.

At EinsteinHR, we know employment law and we can help your organization get ready for what is required. We have made it our business to know the requirements that can affect you and your company.

EinsteinHR will be there to help find and fulfill the human resource needs of your company. Contact us today at 770-962-1700 and find out how we can help.