June 28, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Although guidance is still needed
following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care act (PPACA), plan sponsors should take action now.
“For plan sponsors, the ruling today means it’s full speed ahead on
implementing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act,” Jeff Munn, vice
president of benefit policy development at Fidelity Investments, told PLANSPONSOR.
The individual mandate in the PPACA that was upheld (see “Supreme Court Finds
PPACA Individual Mandate Constitutional”) requires most Americans to have
adequate health coverage by 2014 or pay a penalty. Also in 2014, employers that fail to offer
full-time employees and their dependents affordable coverage with a minimum value
will face penalties.
“The good news is that this ruling
adds some stability to the system,” said James Napoli, Washington, D.C.-based senior counsel and head of Proskauer’s Health
Care Reform Task Force. “The bad news is there’s a lot of work that
needs to be done in a very compressed time period.”
Although employers need guidance
from regulatory agencies about several components of the ruling, including what
defines a full-time employee, they can still formulate an action plan. For
example, employers should take normal steps in preparing Form W-2 health plan
reports at year-end and finalizing health care spending account limits. Other
implementation tasks such as patient-centered outcomes trust fund fee calculations
and “Cadillac tax” accounting should stay on track to reduce the risk of
non-compliance, Fidelity said in a report called “Anticipating the Supreme
Court Decision: What Employers Can Do Now.”