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HR Compliance Tracker

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Big changes are happening in the realm of workplace compliance issues and labor laws in the United States. Noncompliance with government regulations can have serious consequences—and can cost your business big time. Keep up with what's happening between the government and the workplace with the HR Compliance Tracker: your go-to place to stay updated on some major workforce compliance issues.

 

The U.S. House of Representatives strengthens the Affordable Care Act

The House passed omnibus legislation, combining seven total bills, to support the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions and lower prescription drug prices. The bill requires increased transparency of all ACA-related activities by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

This includes bi-weekly public reports during open enrollment periods, as well as reports to ensure the HHS takes appropriate steps to maintain the HealthCare.gov website. It also prohibits the HHS from stopping automatic re-enrollment in ACA marketplace plans.

(While keeping up with ACA changes can be challenging, remember it’s still required for certain employers to provide information about the Marketplace to employees, regardless of whether or not they provide health insurance.)

Check out this article from HealthAffairs to learn more about this new legislation.

Texas federal judge ruled ACA unconstitutional

On December 14, Republican-appointed Judge Reed O’Connor has ruled the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. He stated that “because rewriting the ACA without its ‘essential’ feature is beyond the power” of his court, the individual mandate was inseparable from the law and therefore must be dismantled.

While this decision sent sweeping shock waves in the healthcare landscape, it has little immediate impact. Government agencies reported that the 2019 enrollment will proceed as planned, and the law would stay in place during appeals. Yet, Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling raises concerns for millions of Americans who depend on the law for health coverage. Hospitals and provider groups are also stressed as blows to keep the ACA will affect their ability to provide access to high-quality care.

IRS extends deadlines for Form 1095-C & transition relief

At the end of the month, the IRS issued a notice saying it would extend the deadline for furnishing Form 1095-C to employees. After consulting with stakeholders, the IRS determined that employers, insurers, and other providers of Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) will need an extended period of time to gather and analyze the necessary information to prepare Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. The deadline has been extended from January 31, 2019, to March 4, 2019.

This IRS notice also extended the good-faith transition relief through the 2018 tax year from section 6721 and 6722 penalties to the 2018 information reporting requirements under sections 6055 and 6056. Remember, good-faith transition relief can be applied only when reasonable efforts to maintain ACA compliance and meet ACA reporting deadlines have been demonstrated.

Columbus Joins the ACA Defense Against the Trump Administration

In the President’s pursuit to undo the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many have joined the lawsuit to defend the ACA. Including the city of Columbus, Ohio, who recently joined the combat against the Trump Administration over the ACA.

Columbus is suing President Donald Trump and his administration for allegedly violating the “take care” clause of the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs say it’s an unconstitutional sabotage of the ACA. Columbus Attorney Zach Klein reports that the administration is also violating the “Administrative Procedures Act,” which makes guidelines on how administrative agencies can create rules and regulations.

A 130 page complaint recorded the administration’s numerous attempts to stop the ACA. This includes eliminating protections that it guarantees, driving up costs, attempting to destabilize exchanges, directing agencies to undercut the act, and preventing citizens from insurance enrollment.

Other cities suing the administration over the ACA include Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Charlottesville.

IRS issues the next step of the ACA penalty process

In effort to enforce full-time employee coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the IRS began assessing excise tax penalties against Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) that didn’t comply in 2015. For those who failed to comply, the IRS sent Letter 226-J to alert companies that the IRS determined an employer shared responsibility payment (ESRP) was owed.

To put it more simply: if you were suspected for a violation with the employer mandate of the ACA, you might’ve received a letter telling you how much money you owe. It’s up to you to respond with an appeal by the deadline (a 30-day period) or pay the fine.

Now, the IRS will send out one of the five versions of Letter 227 in response to companies who answered:

  • Letter 227-J  is used if the ALE agreed to the proposed ESRP liability in its response to the Letter 226-J. No further action is required, besides paying the ESRP liability bill.
  • Letter 227-K is used if the ALE provided additional information in response to Letter 226-J to inform that it should not owe an ESRP payment.
  • Letter 227-L is used if the ALE provided additional information in response to Letter 226-J and the IRS responds in with its proposed assessment. The ALE can agree with the assessment or request an appeal.
  • Letter 227-M is similar to Letter 227-L, but the IRS didn’t revise its proposed assessment.
  • Letter 227-N is used to inform the ALE of the IRS’s decision following an appeals discussion. No further action is required, besides paying the ESRP liability bill.
As the rounds of 2015 ESRP enforcement cycle is coming to a close with Letter 227, employers may expect a 2016 ESRP enforcement to begin soon. But it’s important to note that the IRS hasn’t indicated its completion of review for the 2015 reporting, so employers could still receive letter 226-J. If you’re still unsure if your company is ACA compliant, request a complimentary assessment from one of our ACA specialists to help get on track with the right tools you need.
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