US Looks to Reduce ACA Employer Mandate Strains

Even if the employer mandate will not be enforced until 2015, the US Treasury Department is still looking at ways to simplify the healthcare reporting process for employers and insurance companies.

Even if the employer mandate will not be enforced until 2015, the US Treasury Department is still looking at ways to simplify the healthcare reporting process for employers and insurance companies. Mark Mazur, an assistant treasury secretary for tax policy, said they continue to consider ways that will make it easier for employers to comply with the new law.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more workers must offer their employees a minimal level of health insurance coverage or be subject to a fine. To ensure the mandate is met, the government is looking for ways to streamline the procedure.

“Retailers are not interested in being overly burdened by bureaucratic red tape or time-wasting, duplicative reporting requirements,” said Neil Trautwein, the top health policy official for the National Retail Federation.

Some initiatives in the proposal would eliminate the need for employers to determine if employees are considered “potentially fill-time employees,” and would allow them to report specific costs for health plans only if they fell within a certain dollar amount. Another proposed rule would allow employers to report healthcare information on employee W-2 tax forms instead of on a separate statement. The Treasury Department will also be seeking input on the pending legislation's options to determine which efforts migh reduce employer strain on meeing the reporting requirements.

As to whether or not employers will voluntarily report in 2014 is another matter. Cathy Livingston, who worked on the health care rules as an IRS attorney, said it is likely that "a very limited number of entities would voluntarily choose to report. Employers and insurers will likely take a pass."

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U.S. Moves to Ease Employers' Obama Health-law Burden [Reuters]