A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill the first week in October that will significantly ease the Affordable Care Act reporting mandates for employer-sponsored health plans.
The bill, called the Commonsense Reporting Act of 2017, in effect rolls back the employer reporting requirements of Section 6056 and creates a voluntary reporting system in its place. Self-funded plans must comply with both 6055 and 6056, though it’s less clear how the bill would affect Section 6055 requirements.
Technically, the bill proposes that an employer does not have to meet the 6056 IRS reporting requirements, as long as the employer takes part in a prospective reporting system set up by the bill.
The bill also relieves employers of the requirement to send notices to all employees under 6056, as long as the employer provides notices to employees who have been reported as having enrolled through an Exchange.
Current Sections 6055 and 6056 mandate that employers report detailed coverage information to the IRS and give notices to all employees. Under 6055 and 6056, the IRS requires detailed information about each covered employee and the employee’s covered dependents. The information in the filing is intended to be used by the IRS to appropriately apply premium tax credits to consumers who purchase insurance through an Exchange.
According to the sponsors of the bill, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R- OH), current sections 6055 and 6056 do not create an effective way to administer the premium tax credits. The current administration has been looking for a regulatory solution to relieve the reporting burdens of 6055 and 6056, but concluded that legislative action would be needed.
The prospective reporting system proposed by the bill requires high-level information about an employer’s coverage, including:
- the time period (months) that coverage is available;
- waiting periods that may apply;
- certification that the employer’s coverage meets the definition of minimum essential coverage and the minimum value requirement; coverage is offered to part-time employees, dependents and/or spouses of employees;
- certification that the employer’s coverage meets affordability safe harbors; and
certification that the employer reasonably expects to be liable for any shared responsibility payment.
In addition, there are a few other elements to the Commonsense Reporting Act that are important to note:
- Allows payers to electronically transmit employee notices. The current statute now requires paper statements sent via snail mail.
- Allows payers to use names and dates-of-birth in place of the currently required Social Security numbers when filing reports with the IRS.
Legislative Alert provided by Matthew Albright, VP of Regulatory Affairs for Zelis Healthcare
Zelis is always listening – to our clients’ needs and to marketplace dynamics. We continue to monitor healthcare laws and bills to help you better understand specific requirements and their potential impact on your business.