Hold Everything: ACA Play or Pay Effective Date is Delayed
Ok, employers don’t need to hold everything. They should continue to prepare for the August 1 effective date of Minnesota’s new same-sex marriage law, and the September 23 effective date of new requirements under the HIPAA Omnibus Rule. And employers still need to make sure their wellness programs comply with final regulations issued earlier this year, and still need to make sure they are compliant with many of the other requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are effective between now and January 1, 2014. But at least employers can “put down their pencils” with regard to their planning on how they will comply with the Employer Shared Responsibility mandate (aka the “Play or Pay” mandate), at least for one year.
On July 2, 2013, the U.S. Treasury announced that the Obama Administration will provide an additional year before the Employer Shared Responsibility mandate will be effective. The Treasury expects to publish formal guidance within the next week or so describing the details of this delayed effective date. Also, during the summer of 2014, the Treasury expects to issue additional proposed rules on how the various information reporting requirements on the mandate are to be met. Once these rules have been issued, the Administration will work with employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to strongly encourage them to voluntarily implement this information reporting in 2014, in preparation for the full application of the provisions in 2015.
Takeaway: Since penalties under the Employer Shared Responsibility mandate will not apply in 2014, employers can put on hold any changes they were intending to make to their medical plan or business hiring practices, as a result of the mandate, without having to worry about any penalties under the mandate before 2015. During this 2014 transition period, employers will need to watch for further guidance issued by the Treasury on this issue. In addition, employers can focus their benefit plan compliance efforts on more immediate concerns, such as the affect on their benefit plans of the partial repeal of DOMA, and the new HIPAA Omnibus Rule.