Federal Government Launches New Healthcare Reform Website for Employers
These frequently asked questions contain links to a healthcare reform timeline on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website, as well as a link to a slide deck produced by the U.S. Small Business Administration which provides more detail about the employer shared responsibility provisions under IRS Code 4980H. The employer reporting requirements under IRS Code 6055 and 6056 and, as a result, the assessment of penalties on employers were delayed on July 2, 2013 by the Department of the Treasury and the Obama Administration. IRS Notice 2013-45 implements this delay. The website also contains a link to the U.S. Small Business Administration page for employers with 50 or more employees. There, employers can find links to the Department of Labor model notices regarding coverage options available through the Marketplaces, the employer shared responsibility proposed regulations, SBC requirements, and reporting obligations, among other items.
While this information is helpful for employers who have not already started preparing to meet the requirements of PPACA, employers should undertake a deeper dive and analyze exactly how PPACA will impact an employer of their size, location, and employee demographic. Although more guidance is needed from the Departments, the employer mandate proposed regulations, as well as other regulations, provide a helpful starting place for this analysis. The regulations as they exist today do not answer many of the questions and practical implications employers still face once the meaning of the regulations is digested and employers begin putting systems in place in preparation for compliance. In particular, many employers with a part-time or variable hour workforce currently have no reliable system in place that would enable them to utilize the look-back measurement method safe harbor for determining which part-time or variable hour employees may qualify for benefits. Ultimately, this requires tracking the hours of variable hour employees over multiple overlapping cycles of time throughout the year. The IRS Code 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements will also place a significant burden on employers. Employers close to the 50 employee threshold and beyond should work closely with their benefits advisors and legal counsel throughout the remainder of 2013 and 2014 to implement the internal mechanisms that are likely to result in minimizing or avoiding penalties in 2015.