Before the Senate adjourned for their August recess yesterday, U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), both members of the tax writing Senate Finance Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation designed to reform the reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Developed with substantial input from the Employers for Flexibility in Health Care (E-FLEX) Coalition, the Commonsense Reporting Act of 2015 (S. 1996) is companion legislation to the House bill introduced in June by Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
"There is concern among the business community that individuals may mistakenly be approved for tax credits through the health Exchanges based upon inaccurate information. This legislation streamlines the employer reporting process through voluntary prospective reporting in order to provide individuals, employers, insurers, states, and the federal government with more clarity about who may be eligible for these premium tax credits," said Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs at RILA.
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.
S. 1996 creates a voluntary, streamlined prospective reporting system, protects individuals' privacy, and authorizes the electronic transmission of reporting information.
"The Supreme Court has ruled and the debate about the Affordable Care Act is over. It's time for serious legislative efforts to make the law work better for all Americans," said Senator Mark Warner. "While it's critical that the IRS has the necessary information to enforce the law, I have consistently said that it is equally important that reporting requirements strike the right balance between sufficient data and flexibility for employers. This legislation does exactly that by allowing employers to provide the IRS with appropriate data while reducing unnecessary paperwork and administrative costs," Warner continued.
"Obamacare's reporting requirements impose a burdensome compliance process which makes it difficult for employers to offer healthcare to their employees," said Senator Rob Portman. "Furthermore, it requires employers to hand over their employees' sensitive information to the government. Our bill not only streamlines this process, reducing the burden on businesses, but also takes steps to ensure the privacy of the employees' information. It's a commonsense bill that reduces burdens on employers and workers," noted Portman.
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.
"We appreciate the bipartisan approach by Senators Warner and Portman to put forward an approach to improve the ACA reporting process that we hope will reduce errors and confusion by allowing supermarkets to up-front certify that they offer appropriate health coverage to their employees. This bill may be viewed as technical by some but it is important to the supermarket industry," said Jennifer Hatcher, FMI's Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs.
The Employers for Flexibility in Health Care (E-Flex) is a coalition of leading trade associations and businesses in the retail, supermarket, temporary staffing, restaurant, hospitality, construction, 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.