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Government Affairs Quick Blast

    Government Affairs Quick Blast
    As BAHREC members, we have entered into the HR Bermuda Triangle of legislation and government rulings.  The USes – POTUS, SCOTUS and SOTUS (who makes these up?) have recently made our worlds ( companies and clients) a lot more “interesting”.  Here are just a few of the big decisions that SHRM recently listed in its Government Affairs Newsletter:
    • ACA - Obama Administration Announces Delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) 'Employer Mandate' Provision Until 2015 
    • Immigration Reform - The Senate passed S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act
    • Supervisor Liability – Supreme Court issued decision on supervisor liability (Vance v. Ball State University
    • Marriage Equality  - Supreme court overturned DOMA and refused to rule on Prop 8 (effectively allowing it to be nullified) 
    In this quick blast,  I am going to peel the onion so speak and pick the first decision on the extension of the ACA to write about.  In the coming weeks, I will cover the other big decisions and pending legislation.  I welcome any insights/comments you have – so pls share with the rest of the Members.  Also, if there is an issue you are interested in, pls ping me.


    On July 2, 2013, the Obama administration declared that it was delaying the effective date of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Employer Mandate until January 1, 2015. The Employer Mandate, which was scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2014, required all large employers (50 or more employees)  to offer health care coverage to their full-time employees or pay a penalty. Most importantly, this delay means that the penalties to large employers for failure to provide health insurance coverage will not be enforced for another year. 


    Mark J. Mazur,  Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury  indicated that the delay will allow the Treasury Department to meet two goals:

    • First, it will allow the IRS to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law (great news for HR since it will fall on us to administer the program). 
    • Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees (this is probably not a big issue for BAHREC and the SV HR community since I am sure that almost all if not all of our companies are already offering health care to our employees.  However CA wide, only about 60% of companies offer health care to their employees).  Within the next week, the Treasury Department  will publish formal guidance describing this transition. 


    According to Mazur, the ACA includes information reporting (under section 6055) by insurers, self-insuring employers, and other parties that provide health coverage.  It also requires information reporting (under section 6056) by certain employers with respect to the health coverage offered to their full-time employees.  The Treasury Department expects to publish proposed rules implementing these provisions this summer, after a dialogue with stakeholders - including those responsible employers that already provide their full-time work force with coverage far exceeding the minimum employer shared responsibility requirements - in an effort to minimize the reporting, consistent with effective implementation of the law.


    Once these rules have been issued, the Administration will work with employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to strongly encourage them to voluntarily implement this information reporting in 2014, in preparation for the full application of the provisions in 2015.  Their plan is to test the reporting systems in 2014 which they hope will result in a smoother transition to full implementation in 2015.


    Regardless of the extension for large employers, California officials predict that the one-year reprieve for large employers from the federal healthcare law's penalties won't affect the rollout of a new state-run insurance market next year.  Covered California, the state's new health insurance exchange, said it remains on track to start enrollment for consumers Oct. 1.


    As HR professionals, we need to stay turned over the summer to see what the reporting requirements look like.

    John Klinestiver
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