Editor’s Note: The Obama administration has announced that it is suspending until 2015 reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act, which removes the mechanism the government would use to impose fines on employers for failure to provide health insurance in 2014. “We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, said in a July 2 blog post that announced the change.
Despite the delay, pressure remains on employers to take steps to comply with the Affordable Care Act and new reporting procedures. Other ACA requirements remain in effect, and Mazur said the administration encourages employers to “voluntarily implement” reporting in 2014. Under the ACA and the Internal Revenue Code, employers with at least 50 full-time employees can be required to pay a penalty if one or more full-time employees are denied coverage and then qualify for federally subsidized insurance through a Health Insurance Exchange. Those with incomes between one and four times the federal poverty level may qualify.
School districts have particular challenges in complying with reporting requirements because substitute teachers and other “variable hour” employees can become full-time equivalents if they work more than 130 hours per month.
On Board asked school attorney David Shaw what the delay means for school districts. His response is below.
While President Obama and the Treasury Department informed the nation earlier this month that certain insurer, self-insurer and large employer reporting requirements, as well as the employer “play or pay” penalty provisions of the Affordable Care Act, will not be enforced until 2015, many obligations remain in place. On July 9, the Treasury Department issued Notice 2013- 45, which stated that other provisions of the act must be implemented consistent with the original timeframes set forth in the act.
Unless federal officials announce further changes, school districts should proceed as previously planned and under the assumption that the delayed compliance requirements will become effective as of Jan. 1, 2015. It should not be assumed that penalty, insurer and employer reporting requirements will not take effect until the annual start date of your district’s health insurance plan year, regardless of whether your district is self-insured or uses an outside health plan.
Accordingly, districts should: