Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ACA mandates delayed, but reporting requirements are crucial

By Diane A. Thompson and Sharon M. Marshall
November 8, 2013
The Internal Revenue Service has issued proposed regulations on reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act. The regulations, released on Sept. 9, address two separate ACA reporting requirements: one relating to the individual mandate and the other relating to the employer mandate. Failure to comply could result in tax penalties unless the failure is due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.

Each of these requirements has been delayed one year. The government is encouraging voluntary compliance for reports due in 2015 (for the 2014 calendar year), but the first mandatory reports are not due until 2016 (for the 2015 calendar year).

The regulations under section 6055 of the Internal Revenue Code impose new reporting requirements on health insurers, sponsors of self-funded group health plans, and others who provide individuals with minimum essential health coverage. These health benefit providers must furnish a report to the IRS and a statement to enrollees containing specific information to be used in the administration of the individual mandate. Although the report and statement are due annually (on the same schedule that applies to Form W-2), they must set forth information on a month-by-month basis.

The regulations under section 6056 require large employers (more than 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalents) to furnish a report to the IRS and a statement to all full-time employees containing information about the employer-provided coverage that is offered, regardless of whether the employee enrolls. This information will be used in the administration of the employer mandate. As under section 6055, the report and statement are due annually (on the same schedule as Form W-2), but present information on a monthly basis. The report also provides the IRS and individuals with information necessary to administer the premium tax credit under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code.

The two new reporting requirements are in addition to the current requirement to report the cost of coverage on Form W-2. Many are hoping that some or all of these reporting requirements will be combined and simplified. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and IRS have not yet found an approach to reconcile the differences among the requirements, but they continue to consider a combined approach, pending the issuance of regulations.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

White House pushes PPACA security

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is planning a high-level effort to reassure Americans about the privacy and security of the information submitted under the new health care law, hoping to blunt complaints from Republican opponents that enough isn't being done to protect consumer data.

Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez and other federal and state officials are set to meet Wednesday at the White House to discuss security measures designed to keep scammers and identity thieves from taking advantage of what could be millions of Americans attempting to enroll for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act starting in October.

The law's Republican opponents, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, have recently warned of lax security in relaying personal information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and income statements, as people sign up under what many call "Obamacare."

Attorneys general in 13 states sent a letter to Sebelius last month questioning whether there will be enough protection of consumer data in the program, and Republicans from around the country have questioned the system's security and privacy safeguards.

The White House meeting, which will be followed by events later in the week at the Justice Department and at the Federal Trade Commission, is designed to reassure Americans that their personal information will be safe and to publicize ways to report criminal activity.
White House officials plan to unveil a toll-free telephone number (800-318-2596, TTY 855-889-4325) that will connect consumers to a federal call center for reporting fraud or attempted identity theft under the new health care law. They also plan to promote several other initiatives, including a new computer system that will verify Americans' identities to prevent taxpayer-funded subsidies from going to criminals.

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