A few days ago, I thought to myself "You should write an update on the ACA. Everyone always wants to know what is happening with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because it's interesting and so are you." (I shared this thought with my wife, and she categorically disagreed.)
Texas federal judge Reed O'Connor declared the Affordable Care Act invalid in a December 2018 decision that is notable but, ultimately, will likely have no impact on employers' obligations under the ACA. I'd be remiss if I didn't use this opportunity to engage in my new favorite hobby: educating employers about the ACA with the help of random southern phrases I found on Google.
Employers who averaged 100 or more employees over the 2014 calendar year may be receiving a notice from the IRS in the coming months relating to potential penalties for failure to offer affordable coverage to full time employees for the 2015 calendar year, in violation of the ACA's Employer Shared Responsibility Mandate. In brief, employers who met the 100-employee threshold in 2014 were required to do the following in 2015:
On October 6, 2017, the Trump administration issued new rules exempting both religious and non-religious employers that object to the ACA's contraceptive mandate, which requires most employers to provide contraceptive services at no out-of-pocket cost, based on sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. Predictably, multiple organizations and attorneys general announced that they will challenge and/or sue the Trump administration over the new rules (and several already have); however, until the outcome of those challenges and lawsuits are decided, the new rules govern.
As you may have heard, the most recent attempts to repeal and replace the ACA failed when the United States Senate voted against three proposals - the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Obamacare Repeal and Reconciliation Act, and the Health Care Freedom Act - over the course of four days. As a result, the ACA remains the law of the land, and employers with 50 or more employees must continue to offer affordable coverage to employees who work 30 or more hours per week on average.
On March 24, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan cancelled a scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act ("AHCA"), a proposal to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, because it lacked enough support to pass. So, where does this leave the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? That's such a good question; if you know, please let me know ASAP.
On March 6, 2017, the American Health Care Act ("AHCA"), a proposal to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, was introduced. The proposal is of course subject to amendment (and almost certainly will undergo some amendments), but in its current form, it would ease the burden that the ACA placed on employers. In brief, the AHCA retroactively removes the Employer Shared Responsibility Mandate as of 2016, meaning that employers with 50 or more employees will no longer be subject to penalties for failing to offer affordable coverage to full-time employees and their dependents, and would not be penalized if they failed to do so in 2016. However, and somewhat surprisingly, the AHCA does not remove the employer reporting requirements - meaning that large employers and employers who sponsor self-funded health plans would still be responsible for completing Forms 1094 and 1095.
Stop me if you've heard this one - an ACA-related deadline has been extended. In IRS Notice 2016-70 (available at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-16-70.pdf), released on November 18, 2016, the IRS once again extended the deadline by which large employers must distribute a Form 1095 to their full-time employees from January 31, 2017 to March 2, 2017. In brief, the ACA requires large employers to complete two forms: a Form 1094, which is filed with the IRS; and a Form 1095, which is distributed to full-time employees. Significantly, this extension applies only to the Form 1095 employee distribution requirement; it does not extend the Form 1094 IRS reporting requirement. In light of the new and improved deadlines, the 2017 reporting requirements for large employers are below: