Health Law & Policy
| Sep 13 2018

House to Vote on Eased ACA Employer Rules

Geoff Manville
Partner, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

A Republican package (HR 3798) of employer-friendly Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes set for a House vote as early as Sept. 14 would eliminate the law’s 30-hour per week definition of full-time employee, retroactively suspend the employer mandate penalty, slightly ease employer reporting duties, and delay the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost plans. The bill is expected to pass the House but faces a crowded calendar and stiff opposition from Democrats in the Senate.

Another Cadillac tax delay, employer mandate moratorium

Some provisions of the new bill were approved by the House Ways and Means Committee in July, but didn’t get a floor vote that month when lawmakers passed a broad range of health savings account (HSA) reforms. Those provisions would suspend the ACA's employer shared-responsibility mandate retroactively from 2015 through 2018, and delay the law’s “Cadillac” tax for one additional year, to 2023. Congress earlier this year delayed the effective date of the tax until 2022.

The Cadillac tax delay would cost about $13.6 billion between 2019 and 2028, and the retroactive suspension of the employer mandate would cost $25.9 billion over the same period, according to a July Congressional Budget Office Report report. Revenue offsets are not being offered by Republicans, a sore point for some Democrats otherwise inclined to support delay or repeal of the Cadillac tax.

Repeal of 30-hour workweek definition, eased MEC reporting

The bill would change the number of hours a person must work to be considered a full-time employee under the ACA from an average at least 30 hours to 40 hours per week. The change would be retroactive to the beginning of 2014.

In addition, ACA reporting requirements would be modified to allow minimum essential coverage (MEC) providers to furnish coverage statements to individuals only if requested. Large employers’ responsibility to report offer and coverage information to the IRS (and companion statements to individuals) in order for the IRS to assess employer mandate penalties and administer premium tax credits for public exchange coverage would not change. This proposal doesn't go as far in easing the reporting obligations as prior bipartisan legislation. Congressional GOP staff say more extensive employer reporting relief carries a high price tag but that they still want to pursue such relief in the future.

HR 3798 also includes a repeal of the excise tax on indoor tanning services, which would go into effect for services performed in calendar quarters beginning more than 30 days after enactment.

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