The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, expected to be voted on by the House as early as today, will repeal the Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring employers with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll a full-time employee in a health plan if coverage was not voluntarily chosen or declined by an employee.
“This change in the ACA will lessen the administrative and cost burden on employers, but employees, and their families, who fail to act will find themselves uninsured,” says Brian Klepper, principal with consulting firm Health Value Direct.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association welcomed the move. “Striking this redundant requirement off the books puts health decision-making back in the hands of American workers and their families, and provides employers with relief from potentially problematic and burdensome regulations,” says Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs at RILA, a trade association representing more than 200 of the world’s largest retail companies, including Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Apple.
But, if the budget deal passes, it will merely make official what has been in place since regulators said in 2012 that employers could essentially ignore the provision until official guidance was issued, says Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy with the National Business Group on Health, adding that regulators subsequently postponed issuing guidance indefinitely.
J.D. Piro, national practice leader with Aon Hewitt’s health and benefits legal consulting group, notes that because the IRS never issued any regulations on auto-enrollment in health plans, employers were reluctant to implement the provision. “This [provision] was gone in all but law as a practical matter,” he says. “After the last five years, nobody really expected regulations on this.”
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