HEALTH CARE REFORM AFTER THE ELECTION
With President Obama’s re-election and the Democrat Party maintaining control of the Senate, the implementation of the law has overcome its most significant roadblocks.
However, there are challenges ahead for the implementation, so inside this article we look at those challenges and identify what employers need to be doing now.
Aggressive Deadlines for Exchanges
Exchanges are required to be up and operational by January 1, 2014 with open enrollment by October 1, 2013. This is an aggressive timeline and if states are not operational in time, then the federal government will step in and run the exchange for them. Many states that have waited for the outcome of the election to begin are now facing a serious crunch time. Questions further abound about whether the federal government can accomplish its requirement to set up an exchange in time if the state does not. Any delays in exchange implementation will impact implementation of other parts of the law too. California’s Commissioner remains optimistic in this state, but multi state companies should keep watch.
The Fiscal Cliff
In the coming weeks we will be hearing a lot more about the so-called Fiscal Cliff. Triggered by the 2011 Debt Ceiling Deal,the Fiscal Cliff is short hand for automatic government spending cuts and tax increases that will occur on December 31, 2012. The Fiscal Cliff will likely get Democrats and Republicans negotiating and this may slow implementation of the law or reduce its subsidies. All is yet to be seen.
It will be important to stay current on regulations and guidance notices put out by agencies involved in the law. The Treasury Department, the DOL and HHS will soon be issuing regulatory guidance. Important expectations here are focused on how employer penalties will be applied and how they are precisely calculated.
What employers need to do now?
- Request a benefits planning meeting with your broker. Understand new plan options, exchange options and tax consequences of decisions.
- Provide Summary Plan Benefits Coverage ( SBC ) to your participants and beneficiaries by the first open enrollment period beginning after September 23, 2012.
- Provide Employee Notice of Exchanges by March 1, 2013. The HHS or your broker will soon have model notices available.
- Withhold Additional Medicare Tax for high wage workers. In 2013 employers will be required to withhold an additional 0.9% on wages over $200,000.
Source: William J. King & Associates