Many employers received a welcome, though temporary, reprieve Tuesday, when the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Department”) announced a one-year delay in the effective date of one of the key requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) – the employer “shared responsibility” requirements (a.k.a. “pay or play”). PPACA’s shared responsibility requirements were scheduled to become effective January 1, 2014, which has left countless employers scrambling to navigate complex regulations to determine what steps are necessary to comply with the mandate and avoid penalties. (Click here to read our previously-published Employer Alert detailing the shared responsibility provisions and regulations issued to date.)
The announced delay was prompted by the Department’s recognition that new employer and insurer coverage reporting requirements under PPACA are complex and that businesses need additional time to implement these requirements effectively. Specifically, PPACA will require information reporting by insurers, self-insuring employers, and other parties that provide health coverage, as well as by certain employers with respect to the health coverage offered to their full-time employees. The delayed implementation of these requirements is intended to allow the Department time to review and (hopefully) simplify the new reporting requirements and to allow additional time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers move towards compliance with the shared responsibility requirements.
The Department’s announcement effectively pushes the deadline for compliance with the shared responsibility rules to January 1, 2015 – including the assessment of shared responsibility payments or penalties. Importantly, other key 2014 requirements under PPACA, including the implementation of Health Care Exchanges and the so-called individual mandate, as well as the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and transitional reinsurance program fees, remain unchanged.
The Department is expected to issue formal guidance within the next week regarding transitional matters relating to its announcement, as well as proposed rules later this summer implementing the reporting provisions under PPACA. We will provide additional updates on our blog as they become available.