President-elect Donald Trump will take office on Jan. 20, 2017. Organizations have been diligently working for the last few years to get their ACA compliance ducks in a row, and suddenly, everything's up in the air again. While nobody can describe with certainty how public policy post-election will look in terms of health care reform, we know there could be changes.
As you work to ensure your organization remains compliant with the law, here are a few points to keep in mind.
Move Forward With 2016 Informational Reporting
President-elect Trump campaigned heavily on the promise that he'd repeal the ACA on day one of his administration, according to DonaldJTrump.com. Although there are a few obstacles in the way of fulfilling that promise, with Republican majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, we could see some sort of repeal bill in 2017.
From an ACA compliance perspective, January is a busy month. To avoid compliance penalties, Form 1095-C for 2016 coverage has to be distributed to employees by Jan. 31, and extensions are unlikely this time around. Your best course of action is to instruct your HR and compliance departments to assume everything is still business as usual in terms of 2016 informational reporting.
Now would also be a good time to establish a relationship with an ACA compliance vendor, if you haven't already. Having someone who can help you make sense of the rules as they evolve will make ongoing compliance easier — with the ACA and other pertinent compliance concerns.
The Employer Mandate
It's possible the employer mandate could be repealed. In 2015, the House and the Senate passed the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 (HR3762), a reconciliation bill to repeal various spending-related aspects of the ACA, according to Congress. It was vetoed by President Obama, but a similar approach might be taken in 2017. A reconciliation bill would allow the measure to pass with a simple majority in the Senate, and would not be subject to a filibuster.
HR3762 called for repealing some aspects of the ACA including premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion — with a two-year delay. But it called for repealing the employer mandate penalty retroactively. Premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion would've remained in effect through the end of 2017, but the employer mandate would've been eliminated back to the beginning of 2015.
A similar reconciliation bill could be enacted in 2017, but it's too early to know for sure. Heading into 2017, you'll want to continue tracking hours and consolidating data you'll need for compliance with the employer mandate in 2017. An ACA compliance vendor will be able to help you determine if and when your efforts can be adjusted. Adjusting them prematurely could result in penalties if things don't pan out the way you're expecting.
Even before the ACA's employer mandate took effect, the vast majority of large organizations in the U.S. were already offering health benefits to their workers as a key part of their overall compensation package. That's unlikely to change if the employer mandate is repealed.
The Cadillac Tax
The Cadillac Tax could end up on the chopping block. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump called for its elimination, and the tax has already been pushed out to 2020. But a health care policy paper, published by House Republicans in 2016, calls for a cap on the amount of health insurance premiums that can be paid on a pretax basis. Although the plan highlights how the new cap would differ from the Cadillac Tax, it's still something employers should watch as the health care reform process moves forward.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The ACA is tightly woven into our health care system at this point. But President-elect Trump's win could mean changes to health care public policy post-election. ACA compliance, and compliance with what might come next, is not set in stone, so your organization should cultivate an agile compliance mindset, consider a compliance vendor to help keep up with possible changes and treat the ACA as a moving target for the foreseeable future
For more information about the future of the ACA, view a webcast that will offer helpful insights into what's possibly to come.
SIGN UP FOR THE BOOST NEWSLETTER