News

New rules should ease Obama health-law burden

New rules should ease Obama health-law burden

A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012 file photo. Photo: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi//Files

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday issued proposed rules aimed at easing the requirements for companies and insurers when they report employees’ health coverage information to comply with President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

The proposed regulations are a key element of the employer mandate portion of the law. Implementation of the rules had been delayed while the Treasury Department attempted to simplify them to address concerns of employers.

“We will continue to consider ways, consistent with the law, to simply the new information reporting process,” said Mark Mazur, assistant treasury secretary for tax policy.

The law, widely known as Obamacare, requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer their full-time employees a minimum level of health insurance coverage or be subject to a fee.

If companies do not offer coverage and have at least one full-time worker receiving government tax credits to buy insurance, employers are assessed a fee of $2,000 per full-time employee, excluding the first 30 workers.

The administration caused a stir in July when it unexpectedly delayed the effective date for the reporting and for the employer mandate itself to 2015 from 2014.

Retailers in particular had complained about the law’s detailed reporting requirements. A trade group commended the Obama administration for taking action to lighten the burden of the law. But the group’s lobbyist said the administration did not go far enough.

“One thing retailers and other employers hate more than anything else is sending the same information to different agencies,” said Neil Trautwein with the National Retail Federation, which represents Wal-Mart, Macy’s Inc. and others.

The group wants the Internal Revenue Service to work with the Health and Human Services Administration to simplify the rules further.

Although the employer mandate has been delayed, the separate requirement that all individuals carry health insurance or pay a fee, goes into effect on January 1, 2014.

Thursday’s proposal would, among other things, eliminate the need for employers to determine whether particular employees are full-time where adequate coverage is offered to all “potentially full-time employees.” It also would let employers report specific costs for health plans only if the cost is above a certain threshold dollar amount.

The proposed rules would also allow, in certain instances, the reporting of healthcare information on W-2 tax forms that employers issue to workers, rather than a separate statement.

When the government delayed the effective dates of the mandate and reporting, they requested that companies voluntarily report starting in 2014.

Cathy Livingston, who worked on the health care rules as an IRS attorney, said it is likely that “a very limited number of entities would voluntarily choose to report.”

“Employers and insurers will likely take a pass,” said Livingston, now in private practice at Jones Day.

Latest Headlines

in Local

Lawyer in Defamation Case Says Client was Hero in Haiti

WGAN-100x100

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A lawyer in a Maine defamation case says his client was a hero for children in…

in Local

9-Year-old Boy Killed in Fatal Fire in Hermon, Maine

fire

Authorities say a 9-year-old boy is dead and a 10-year-old girl is in critical condition following a fire in Hermon, Maine.

in Local

Spring Trial for Man Charged in Pregnant Girlfriend’s Death

GENERIC COURT LARGE

Prosecutors say the trial of a Lewiston man charged with running down and killing his pregnant girlfriend in Maine is expected in spring 2016.

in Sports, Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: NASCAR driver walks away from incredible wreck

21-overlay4

Austin Dillon walked away from a dramatic wreck at the finish line of the Daytona International Speedway and it was all caught on camera.

in Local

Carnival Company Owner, Worker Charged In Ride Accidents

generic gavel

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) The owner of a carnival company has been charged by the state's Fire Marshal's Office in connection with two ride accidents that injured four people.

Tweets

  • 2h
  • 5h
  • 8h
  • 11h
  • 14h
  • 16h
  • 26h