Webinar: ACA – Where we stand today and 5 key things you should consider for 2017.

The Affordable Care Act has faced some uncertainty over the last six months with a House and Senate repeal bills. It looks as if plans for an immediate repeal are put on the back burner and a bipartisan solution may be the likely outcome. This 45-minute webcast will attempt to pinpoint where ACA is headed over the next year and the key considerations employers need to consider.

Agenda:
1. Washington DC legislative update
2. Employer requirements to stay compliant in 2017
3. What the future could bring
4. 5 Things Employers should consider for 2017
5. Q & A

Please Join us for this 45 Minute update on Tuesday August 22nd at 1 PM Central. Register Here

ACA Repeal -What do you think will happen? – 4 possible outcomes

As we outlined in a previous post the ACA repeal process is complicated and unpredictable. We see four possible longer term outcomes although recent voting suggests some of these options may be less likely. What do you think will happen? – Let us know and participate in our one question poll:

  1. Stay the same (no changes to the legislation) – If congress determines that any meaningful legislation is too difficult to pass they may decide to punt and move onto other legislation.
  2. Be partially repealed/modified for an improved bill– The current discussions around a “Skinny Bill” place partial repeal as a front runner this week but what about the outcome? Several factions see the elimination of mandates as a destabilizing to the insurance markets.
  3. Be fully repealed for a better bill– The likelihood of this option is lower in the short term based on this week’s vote but could be a possibility down the road.
  4. Be repealed but for a bill that is worse than current – Always the risk of the political process.

Upcoming Webinar: ACA – Where we stand today and 5 key things you should consider for 2017. Tuesday August 22nd 1 PM Central time – Learn More and Register Here

 

 

ACA Repeal Timeline and Process

ACA Repeal

ACA Repeal Timeline

The road to repeal and replacing The ACA is complicated and will take some time to be successful. The AHCA, the House ACA Repeal bill that passed in May has weak support by industry trade groups as well as low public opinion. Much of the concern centers on the elimination of Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies that is projected to increase the number of uninsured by as much as 24 million individuals. This estimated timeline is designed to provide a easy visual of what the next steps might look like. The complicated process combined with the gravity of its impact suggest the ultimate result may require a bi-partisan solution. Below are the steps for ACA repeal which are subject to change:

  1. May 4th House bill passes – After cancelling the vote in March the House went through an extensive negotiation process to come up with a bill that could satisfy the conservative faction of the house. When it was discovered they still needed a handful of key moderates to participate, additional adjustments to the bill were made. In the end, the bill passes the House narrowly 217 to 213. It’s important to note this bill passed on a weak foundation that will likely be disrupted as the bill travels to the Senate. The Senate is considered to be more moderate than the House and many have predicted significant re-writes.
  2. Senate rules – The Senate Democrats are expected to raise points of order that do not meet the Byrd strict 6-rule test concerning the budgetary impact of the bill. The CBO report due out on May 22 will also factor into this assessment. If portions of the House bill do not satisfy the Byrd rule, major revisions to the bill will result.
  3. Senate writes bill and votes – Based on the feedback during the Senate Rules process as well as a smaller committee, the Senate will craft a bill to be voted on. Meanwhile there are several discussions occurring within the Senate as well as alternate proposed bills being considered. It is doubtful that the committee can craft a bill that will stand a chance of passing. A broad negotiation possibly including Senate Democrats may be necessary in order to pass the bill.
  4. Conference Process – The “conference” process goal is to reach common ground between the House and the Senate on future legislation. During this process, the two chambers resolve different versions of bills and look to get a common bill approved by both bodies. Assuming they can come together on a common piece of legislation, a compromised bill will be written to be voted on.
  5. Vote in House and Senate – After the completion of the Conference process the revised bill goes back to both chambers for a vote. Under reconciliation rules (as before) a simple majority is required to pass. This revised bill must pass both chambers before the President can sign it into law.

EmployeeTech Announces Two Upcoming Events

We are pleased to announce two upcoming events at EmployeeTech:

ACA – What to Consider for 2016 and Beyond– Wednesday March 1 at 1 PM Central (Chicago)

 Presenter – Ben Conley, Partner Seyfarth Shaw, Chicago IL

The Trump administration made this point loud and clear: Priority #1 is to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This creates many legislative hurdles and lots of uncertainty for everyone involved. That is why organizations need a flexible plan with the right processes and systems in place for whatever may happen down the line. This 30-minute session will provide you with the latest information on the fate of ACA and highlight what employers must bear in mind for this recent filling and the upcoming tax year (2017).

Register here

EmployeeTech is Conducting a Study on HR Technology (For HR Representatives)

New trends are reshaping the HR Technology landscape. Employers are keen on embracing cloud-based technology across all markets and self-service is growing in popularity. However, the deployment of HR solutions has not been particularly smooth –usually lacking the proper mechanisms and required integration. This study will provide insights to employers of all sizes about which systems and strategies are being adopted and the gaps that need to be filled. Client participation would be highly appreciated and should only take less than 5 minutes of your time – click here to access the online questionnaire. Advisors can pass the link on to their clients to complete. All respondents will receive a copy of the study free of charge. The results will help you benchmark your company against your peers and provide actionable insights for your HR technology strategy.

No Extended Deadlines This Year

untitledLast year on December 28, we were alerted a month from the approaching deadline that the forms and filing requirements had moved two and three months out to address challenges. This was a fairly drastic move within a month of a significant compliance deadline. I bring this up almost a year later because the uncertainty and general confusion is expected to subside a little but, will likely continue into the 2016/17 filing season.

As a leading provider of ACA solutions to hundreds of employers, we are finding this concern about uncertainty spills into the 2016 tax season. To provide some useful guidance, I thought it would be helpful to share with you a roll-up of common questions and key issues we are receiving from our clients over the past several months:

  1. Will the ACA be delayed again in 2016? We do not see the filing requirements delayed again in 2016. The delay for 2015 was a one-time delay, and the IRS has signaled this to be the case on their conference calls.
  2. What changes do we need to be concerned with in the 1094 and 1095 C forms? Overall, the changes to these forms are minor in 2016. The 2015 Qualifying Offer, a form of transition relief, was eliminated from the 1094 form. The biggest changes are with two contingent offer of coverage codes 1J and 1K. The idea behind these new offer codes is that employer coverage is contingent upon not having coverage available elsewhere. If this better describes how you offer coverage, you may want to consider selecting these codes over the traditional 1A or 1E.
  3. Will it be easier to work with Name/TIN Mismatches flagged through the corrections process? In the first year it was difficult to work with IRS requested corrections because you often could not identify which covered individual generated the error (we didn’t know if it was the employee, a dependent, or both).  Several IRS conference calls have signaled they will be providing more detail on the corrections this year. If your ACA solution communicates with the IRS Affordable Care Act Information Returns (AIR) system, you will likely be able to display the detail of this error message and act on it. A side-note: remaining corrections from 2015 do not have a specific due date, but should be addressed as soon as possible.
  4. Why do we still have transition relief in 2016? The expectations for many is that transition relief was simply a 2015 phenomenon. While non-calendar year and 2015 Qualifying Offer Transition Relief have been eliminated, 4980H Transition Relief has remained into 2016 for “non-calendar” plans that meet certain criteria. What this means is that employers who might be facing shared responsibility penalties in 2016 can still take advantage of one of the two types of relief 1) if you average 50 to 99 FTEs you are shielded for the 2015 non-calendar year plan for the months that spill into 2016 (e.g., a July 1 plan will be shielded for the first six months of 2016). 2) The same applies for 100+ clients in terms of being able to leverage the 70% offer requirement.
  5. Will it be easier this year? This is a general question that depends on the solution you use. Overall, we believe the answer is a resounding “YES!” With our solution, a large number of clients are able to take advantage of an automated renewal process that transitions setup from 2015 and trends existing employees from December 31, 2015, into 2016. Vendors have learned how to make this process easier for their customers after all the pain they experienced in 2015. Everything from data collection, filing and corrections process should be more automated this year.

ACA Legislative Webinar- Plus final 2016 ACA forms

Register for the Webinar below by Clicking Here

New ACA Forms and Instructions:1094-C1095-C & Final Instructions

Please join us on Wednesday October 19 at 1 PM Central (Chicago Time) for a one-hour legislative update on ACA for 2016. With a year of filing under our belt and new details from Washington, employers will be looking for guidance going into this year. EmployeeTech has partnered with Seyfarth Shaw’s Health Care Report Team to provide important insight into the law. Presenting along with EmployeeTech will be Ben Conley, Partner and a member of the firm’s Health Care Reform Team.untitled

 This one-hour webinar we will cover the following topics:
> Looking back on 2015, and lessons learned
> Key changes for 2016 impacting employers
> How to protect your organization from penalties- plus notices
> Safeguards and enhancements within HCM File to support compliance
> Q & A

About Ben Conley
Ben started closely following health care reform well before it was passed into law. He regularly consults with governmental agencies on health care reform developments and has submitted comments on health care reform interim regulations on behalf of clients. Mr. Conley has presented extensively on health care reform and what it means for businesses, including leading the Healthcare Reform Certification Program offered by the Employer Healthcare Congress.

Legislative Update- What Employers Need to Know

Register for ACA 2016, Legislative Update- What Employers Need to Know on Aug 31, 2016 1:00 PM CDT at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/207502410046102275

Please join us on Wednesday August 31st at 1 PM Central for a legislative update on ACA for 2016. With a year of filing under our belt and new details from Washington, employers will be looking for guidance going into this year. EmployeeTech has partnered with Seyfarth Shaw’s Health Care Report Team to provide important insight into the law. Presenting along with EmployeeTech will be Ben Conley, Partner and a member of the firm’s Health Care Reform Team.

For this one-hour webinar we will cover the following topics:
> Looking back on 2015, and lessons learned
> Key changes for 2016 impacting employers
> How to protect your organization from penalties
> Safeguards and enhancements within HCM File to support compliance
> Q & A

About Ben Conley
Ben started closely following health care reform well before it was passed into law. He regularly consults with governmental agencies on health care reform developments and has submitted comments on health care reform interim regulations on behalf of clients. Mr. Conley has presented extensively on health care reform and what it means for businesses, including leading the Healthcare Reform Certification Program offered by the Employer Healthcare Congress.

About HCM
HCM is a comprehensive, stand-alone solution for 1094/95 reporting that it easy to use. Come hear how HCM can improve your ACA filing experience for 2016. Last year nearly 1900 clients chose HCM for their clients’ 1094 and 1095 forms and filing, many completely filed by late March.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

New Draft 1095-C form for 2016

Here’s a link to the draft 2016 1095-C form for 2016. The form is unchanged from 2015. One update worth noting is the plan start month will remain an optional field for 2016. HCM file will be populating this field in 2016.

Top 5 Lessons for ACA Filing Success

It’s almost June and the 1094/95 filing that most of us thought would be history by now is still a work-in-progress for many.  Having completed filings for nearly2000 employers (ALEs)  in 1st quarter, I thought this would be a great time to share the lessons learned that can inform us for next year.

 Lesson #1:  Advanced Planning Paid Off – Because ACA reporting is a year-end snapshot of your business, final data becomes available just weeks before the deadline for getting forms to employees.  To avoid a mad scramble in January, we had our clients run a test file with 10 months of data, in November. This trial run provided employers with valuable insight to their data quality, unusual employee situations, and an idea of what to expect with the filing process.  This gave them plenty of time to resolve issues, making January almost anxiety-free.

Lesson #2:  Great Source Data is Key Clients with clean data breezed through the implementation process while clients with data challenges took weeks, and sometimes months to file. Why the difference? Because incomplete/inaccurate data was by far the most significant driver of filing errors, IRS rejections, and staff hours needed to complete the filing. Now’s a good time to evaluate your system in advance of next year’s filing.  Does it properly track everything you need, including coverage waivers, rehire dates, Cobra and leaves of absence?

Lesson #3:  Validate Before Filing. Seems logical in hindsight, but some clients just entered their data and hit the “file” button.   There is an important interim validation step that highlights patterns in the data you won’t see otherwise, and gives you an opportunity to make adjustments.  A small investment of time here will save countless hours and the expense of correcting and re-issuing forms downstream.

Lesson #4:  Don’t surprise your employees – Just as this was new for all of us, it was new for employees, too.  There were questions about purpose, timing, what the codes meant, and what to do with the forms. Clients who took steps to engage and educate their employees saw good results. A simple communication with an explanation of the B and C forms and IRS codes reduced questions and anxiety, and reflected well on HR.

Lesson #5Prepare for Corrections – Through our own filing solution, HealthCostManager, we completed electronic filing for our clients and are now helping them correct forms that the IRS rejected.   IRS rejections will probably never go away entirely, so you might as well plan for them.  However, since 6-8% of this year’s rejections were due to a mismatch between employee name and social security number, one thing you can do now is to confirm that you have the full, legal name and correct SSN on file for every employee.

Click here to learn more about 1094/95 reporting and register for a 30 minute demo of our complete and easy-to-use ACA filing solution – HealthCostManager

 

Good Faith Effort, Transition Relief and The 30-day Extension: ACA safety nets

 Good Faith Effort For 2015 employers that file will have protection even if their filing is incorrect or incomplete, as long as they show they made good faith efforts to comply with the [ACA] reporting requirements. A “good-faith effort” is defined as employer simply attempting to complete the forms. Keep in mind that the good-faith effort for 2015 tax year will disappear in 2016, thus penalties will apply for incorrect information in subsequent years. Also, A and B Shared Responsibility penalties still apply here.

Transition Relief – A Bye for 2015 Transition relief is designed to shield employers from shared responsibility penalties for all or part of 2015, reducing the exposure of the (A) $2K or (B) $3K penalties. This relief is not granted automatically and only applies for the 2015 tax year. To take advantage of this relief, the employer needs to complete line 22 of the 1094-C form or line 16 of the 1095-C for non-calendar year plans. With HCM File we advise our clients to incorporate Transition Relief into their filing where appropriate. There are four flavors of Transition Relief, each essentially providing a bye for the months the relief is designated.

  1. Qualifying Offer Method -For employers who offer MEC which does not exceed 9.5% of the Federal Poverty Level to at least 95% of full-time employees.
  2. 4980H  for Employers with 50-99 Employees – For employers who averaged between 50-99 employees
  3. 4980H  for 100+ Employers – For employer offered coverage to at least 70% of full-time employees
  4. Non-Calendar Year Relief – For employers with health plans that renew February-December in 2015.

30-day Extension Mirroring the extension process for W2s and 1099s, the IRS will allow a 30-day extension as long as you can demonstrate certain hardship conditions and file Form 8809 by January 31st 2016. Getting the final health plan participation and completing 1095-C forms for each health eligible employees, Cobra and retirees (if self-funded) is a lot to accomplish in a short window. As many employers scramble to complete their end of year payroll and compile the information for 6055/56, a good number of employers are looking to take advantage of the extension especially in the first year. Unlike the Good-Faith Effort and Transition Relief, the 30-day extension can be utilized in any tax year assuming the employer qualifies.

While Good Faith Effort, Transition Relief, and 30-day extensions are tools that employers may take advantage of to shield them from potential penalties, they should not be viewed as a method to evade penalties in all situations. Employers should still strive for compliant, accurate, and penalty-free filing without the support of any safety nets.

Special Note every Friday at 10 am Central we conduct a 30 minute HCM File webcast for brokers and employers. Click here to register.

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