AFFORDABLE CARE ACT EMPLOYER MANDATE DELAYED FOR MEDIUM SIZED EMPLOYERS

September 19, 2014

By Parker Himes

The Treasury Department on Monday announced that employers with 50-99 full-time employees will be given until 2016 to offer insurance to full-time employees before risking a federal penalty. The 2016 deadline is two years longer than the original deadline under the Affordable Care Act.  Under the Act, a full-time employee is anyone who works 30 or more hours per week.

Also announced on Monday is another type of grace period for employers with 100 or more full-time employees. Originally, employers were required to offer coverage to 95% of full-time employees by 2015.  Under the new rules, however, employers with 100 or more full-time employees can avoid the federal penalty for failing to offer coverage by offering insurance to just 70% of full-time employees by 2015 and 95% of full-time employees by 2016.  Importantly, however, employers are still subject to a $3,000 penalty for each employee in the 30% not offered health insurance who buys coverage on a state health-care exchange and qualifies for subsidized premiums.

Administration officials also said Monday that they will issue a separate set of rules in the next few weeks related to how employers must report their employees’ insurance status to the government.   The Firm will be monitoring the law’s progress and will keep you up to date on any significant developments.

If you have any questions related to this issue or any other aspect of the Affordable Care Act, we encourage you to contact an attorney at the Firm for clarification.

Finally, please join us for a presentation on the Affordable Care Act at the Firm’s 34th  Annual School Law Seminar on Saturday, March 1 at McDonald’s Hamburger University in Oak Brook.  As always, board members, district and building level administrators may register for no cost on the Firm’s website (http://edlawyer.com/law-seminar-registration). We look forward to seeing you there.

FULL-TIME EMPLOYEE UNDER THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

 July 9, 2013

By Parker Himes

A full-time employee under the Affordable Care Act is defined as an employee working 30 hours or more, not 35 hours as stated in a previous article.  While the 30 hour standard has not changed, over the next year and a half the Obama Administration will explore ways to make the law more palatable to employers, which could include modifying the definition of full-time employee to include only those employees working 35 hours or more.  In fact, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) recently proposed bipartisan legislation, titled the “Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013” (S. 1188), that would change the definition of full-time employee to 40 hours under the Act.  We will monitor the progress of this bill.

During this time, further guidance will be forthcoming concerning the definition of “employee” under the Act. The Administration anticipates that the guidance on this issue, and many others, will help clarify employers’ responsibilities and help employers implement the infrastructure necessary to comply with the law.  It is important to note that any number of changes could occur between now and January 2015.  The Firm will be monitoring the law’s progress and will keep you abreast of any developments.

If you have any questions about this issue or any other related to the Affordable Care Act, we encourage you to contact an attorney at the Firm for clarification.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DELAYS EMPLOYER MANDATE UNDER AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

July 8, 2013

By Parker Himes

Last week, the Obama administration delayed the effective date of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which requires companies with 50 or more employees to offer health insurance to workers or pay a penalty.  The delay pushes the inception of the employer mandate back to January 2015.  At that time, employers will be required to provide health insurance  to  employees  working  35  hours  or  more.    Administration officials  reason  that  the  delay  will  allow  a reassessment of the reporting burdens and will give employers more time to arrange compliance with the law.

Conversely, the individual mandate will not be delayed.   Health care exchanges are slated to be up and running by October 1, selling coverage that takes effect January 1, 2014.  The Administration notes that many of the employees who will not receive coverage through employers until 2015 will be able to obtain coverage from these health care exchanges.

For employers, the delay could reduce pressure to develop the data collection and infrastructure necessary to track full- time employees based on the law’s complex rules.  The Administration points out that a majority of the large companies covered by the mandate (including most school districts) already provide their employees with health insurance that complies with the employer mandate.  James A. Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, touts the delay as providing “vital breathing room to implement the law in a more thoughtful and administratable way…Major employers have led the way in providing coverage to their workers and are expending great resources to ensure compliance with the new law.” Todd Leeuwenburgh, Health Reform’s Employer Mandate Delayed: Obama Recognizes Employer Concerns, Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert, July 3, 2013.

Yet, the delay does not apply to employer compliance with the law’s other insurance mandates. These mandates include:

1) coverage for dependent children up to age 26; 2) no exclusions for pre-existing conditions; 3) no annual or lifetime limits on payments; and 4) coverage with no cost-sharing for preventative services; among others.

The Obama administration has promised to provide more clarity to employers regarding the mandate over the next year and a half.  For now, however, employers can take advantage of the breathing room afforded by this delay to form their strategy for compliance with the law.

If you find yourself dealing with issues related to the employer mandate, we urge you to contact an attorney at the Firm so we can help to find a favorable resolution.