Today, bi-partisan legislation to reform the reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Developed with substantial input from the Employers for Flexibility in Health Care (E-FLEX) Coalition, the legislation (H.R. 2712) was introduced by Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), both members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
“The Commonsense Reporting and Verification Act of 2015 will provide individuals, employers, insurers, states, and the federal government with more clarity about who may be eligible for premium tax credits for coverage in the Exchanges,” said Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs at RILA. “The legislation will help to reduce confusion surrounding the Exchange tax credit eligibility, and provide businesses and insurance carriers with regulatory relief under the law’s reporting requirements,” noted Pollack.
Under the ACA, employers and insurance carriers are required to gather numerous pieces of data on a monthly basis and report them annually to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and individuals. The information reported is intended to verify compliance with the individual and employer mandates, and administer advanced premium tax credits and cost sharing subsidies under the state and federal-facilitated insurance Exchanges.
H.R. 2712 creates a voluntary, streamlined prospective reporting system, protects individuals’ privacy by eliminating the requirement that businesses and insurers collect dependents’ Social Security numbers, and authorizes the electronic transmission of reporting information.
“The business owners that I meet with in my district take pride in offering affordable health coverage to their employees but they don’t want to face an onslaught of government reporting requirements in order to do it,” said Congressman Diane Black. “As it stands today, the IRS forces employers to compile massive amounts of personally identifiable information every month in order to comply with the ACA’s employer mandate. This takes valuable time and resources away from the daily operations of running a business. That is why my bipartisan bill would allow employers to voluntarily report the type and availability of insurance coverage one time, at the beginning of the year, without including the confidential information of their employees and dependents. I am grateful to Congressman Mike Thompson and the E-FLEX Coalition for joining me in support of this much-needed legislation.”
“While the health care law isn’t perfect, it was an important first step toward making quality, affordable health care a reality for all Americans. Now it’s time to work across the aisle to make commonsense improvements to the law, and that is exactly what this legislation will do,” said Congressman Mike Thompson. “I’ve heard from employers of all sizes, who want to offer health care to their employees, about the challenges they face complying with the ACA’s administrative requirements. This bill would allow employers to maintain employer-sponsored health coverage, while reducing reporting burdens on businesses so they can focus on what they do best – creating jobs and growing our local economies. Our bill would also increase consumer protections by requiring that eligibility for subsidies be based on the most recent tax data. This will increase accuracy and ensure that individuals and families aren’t hit with a large and unexpected tax bill at the end of the year.”
The E-FLEX Coalition developed the concept of voluntary prospective reporting four years ago and has been working since then to incorporate it into the regulatory structure of these ACA requirements.
“Fixing some of the more mundane problems in the ACA like the reporting requirements is never going to bring a Member of Congress celebrity status, but it will make a big difference to a lot of folks and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) appreciates the bipartisan approach taken by Representatives Black and Thompson to address a technical but serious emerging problem with the ACA Exchange notification and employer reporting process. This legislation provides an option for employers who can up-front certify that they’ve met their ACA obligations and reduces the likelihood of individuals (supermarket employees) having to pay the IRS for errors made by Exchanges during Advance Premium Tax Credit verification process," said Jennifer Hatcher, FMI's Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs.
Companion legislation will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
The Employers for Flexibility in Health Care (E-Flex) is a coalition of leading trade associations and businesses in the retail, restaurant, supermarket, hospitality, construction, temporary staffing, and other service-related industries, as well as employer-sponsored plans insuring millions of American workers. Members of the E-Flex Coalition are dedicated to the common goal of creating solutions for both large and small employers and are working to help ensure that employer-sponsored coverage – the backbone of the U.S. health care system – remains a competitive and affordable option for employers and for employees whether full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal workers.