Contact: Mercer Feedback
Recently submitted comments by plan sponsor groups urge the IRS to substantially simplify and add new flexibility to proposed rules regarding the Affordable Care Act's employer-reporting duties under Code sections 6055 and 6056. Written comments from The ERISA Industry Committee and the American Benefits Council suggest a broad array of simplified methodologies, including allowing employers to largely avoid worker-specific reporting and instead simply certify that they cover at least 95% of full-time employees. These and other suggested changes will be aired at Nov. 18 and 19 IRS hearings on the proposed rules.
Attention will continue this week on the troubles surrounding the law’s rollout and proposals from President Obama and Congress to address policy cancelations in the individual market. The president on Nov. 14 proposed to let individuals and small businesses keep for a year policies slated for cancellation because they do not ACA standards. Policy continuation would be optional for insurers and apply only to policies facing cancellation due to certain ACA rules, such as essential health benefits. Continuation is not an option for policies being canceled because they have an annual dollar limit. The insurance industry has criticized the proposal, some states have rejected it, and lawmakers in both parties vow to continue pushing for legislation to bar the cancellation of some existing policies.
A day after the president’s suggested administrative fix, the House passed a bill to let health insurers continue selling through 2014 certain individual market policies that do not meet ACA standards. In the Senate, Democratic leaders want to give the president's plan to address policy cancellations a chance to work before considering legislation. Still, some Senate Democrats plan to keep pushing for consideration of a similar measure from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA. The president’s ability to fight off legislative changes to the law may be severely weakened, however, if implementation problems continue.
Meanwhile, several House and Senate committee hearings this week will look into the status of HealthCare.gov. Although the federal exchange web site’s performance is reportedly improving, whether it will be fully operational by the administration’s goal of the end of November is in doubt. Insurers and others hope the web site’s flaws can be corrected in time to process many new enrollees’ applications before calendar year coverage begins on Jan. 1.