Keeping track of ACA changes in the era of Trump

One year after President Trump took office vowing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the law still stands.

Yet many people assume it has been repealed, even though the requirement for an employer to offer health care coverage to full-time employees is still in effect.

While changing the health insurance system doesn’t seem to be a legislative priority this year, you still need to keep a close eye on the ACA and the challenges it faces.

Unfortunately, understanding the ACA is perhaps even more difficult now than a year ago.

Here’s what we’ve learned about how to cut through all the tweets, votes, and proposed changes and figure out what your organization is actually responsible for this year. Follow these five lessons learned as a guide for watching the next 12 months of the ACA.

Lesson #1: Pay close attention to the official sources.

Despite promises from both sides of the aisle, many tweets, and adjustments to the enforcement of the law, nothing significant has changed from an employer perspective. It’s important to wade through the information and only take direction from agencies like the IRS.

Just because someone says the law is repealed, doesn’t mean you should stop tracking employee hours or limit offers of employee health care coverage. Both could bite you down the road.

Lesson #2: Keep up with what you’re ultimately responsible for.

If you paid attention to the news cycle over the past year, there’s a good chance your head is still spinning from the seemingly endless headlines out of the Capitol. As intimidating as it might be to stay up to date, penalties and fines that could affect your business are on the line.

The reality of the situation is that applicable large employers (ALEs) are responsible for tracking employees, offering coverage, and reporting on those efforts.

As we’ve covered, the IRS is starting to send penalty letters for the 2015 and 2016 reporting years, and it plans to do the same for 2017. This means employers are still on the line for ACA reporting and compliance.

Lesson #3: Surround yourself with helpful resources and advisors.

One way to keep up with the changes is to make sure you have knowledgeable advisors and go-to resources to ensure you’re on the right track when it comes to the ACA. These trustworthy people and tools can serve as a sounding board for questions and make sure you’re working within the limits of the law.

Lesson #4: Make sure your data and records are accurate.

As we noted above, ALEs are still responsible for tracking and reporting on eligible employees. By making regular updates to employee information, ensuring source data is accurate, and creating an auditable trail, you can easily shift your ACA compliance and reporting to address any major ACA changes that may occur.

Lesson #5: These things take time.

Nothing in government moves quickly, so even if the ACA was repealed in its entirety tomorrow, you might not feel the impact until months or years later. You’ll have time to make adjustments, understand how changes to the law will affect your business, and get organized.

The road ahead

Take these five lessons to heart and you’ll not only have a less stressful ACA reporting and compliance season, but also be prepared for whatever updates, repeals, or other changes might come your way.