Guidance Ends 2015 Congress Targets ACA to Start 2016

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Guidance Ends 2015 Congress Targets ACA to Start 2016
Calendar07 January 2016

Federal agencies released several notable pieces of guidance impacting employers in the last days of 2015. The ACA’s upcoming deadlines are now delayed for reporting minimum essential coverage and employer shared responsibility; the new due dates give employers nearly two extra months -- until March 31 -- to distribute information statements to individuals and three extra months -- until June 30 for many employers -- to submit transmittals to IRS with related data.

Regulators also offered new details affecting the integration of family HRAs with other group health plans; the impact of opt-out payments and flex credits on the affordability of employer-offered health coverage; permitted design options and COBRA administration of health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) with carryovers; and gave specifics for determining employer shared responsibility status of employees with paid leaves and breaks in service.

In addition, the IRS expanded tax-free treatment for identity-theft benefits and explained how eligible taxpayers can claim the Trade Adjustment Assistance program's health coverage tax credit for 2014 and 2015, as well as the interaction of the credit with the premium tax credits available to help individuals buy public insurance exchange coverage.

The 114th Congress begins its second session this week with the House passing a bill cleared by the Senate last month (HR 3762) that would dismantle the ACA. The White House has promised a veto, making the vote largely symbolic, but Republicans see political benefit to forcing President Obama to defend the law and showing voters what could be accomplished with a GOP-led Congress and a Republican president. The bill would repeal many of the law’s taxes -- including the “Cadillac” tax on high-cost health plans -- and remove the penalties used to enforce the law’s individual mandate and employer play-or-play rules.  A two-year delay in the Cadillac tax was signed into law Dec. 18 as part of a year-end appropriations and tax package.

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