Good news: The feds are giving companies a little more breathing room to meet a looming health care reform deadline.
The Department of Labor just announced the postponement of the deadline for distributing notices to health care plan participants on the availability of coverage through state exchanges.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all employer plans (even grandfathered plans) had been required to hand out exchange notices to employees enrolled in their plans by March 1, 2013.
But the DOL just pushed that date back, and it included the announcement in the 11th installment of the its Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) guidance.
Why the postponement? The agency said there are a number of factors at work.
For example, the DOL decided it was “impracticable” for firms to hand out the notices because many of the state exchanges haven’t even been set up yet.
Plus, the exchanges themselves don’t become operational until Jan. 1, 2014.
On top of that, the original Obamacare exchange notice provision said the mandate wouldn’t take effect until the DOL — and the other agencies it works in conjunction with (HHS, IRS) — issues an official rule on how to comply. Because that hasn’t happened yet, there’s no way for employers to know exactly what they need to do to satisfy the requirement.
If that isn’t enough, the feds’ FAQ also listed the following reasons for the delay:
- Educational efforts from the HHS, and IRS guidance on “minimum value” under the reform law need to be released first, and
- Employers will need adequate time to comply.
So what’s the time frame now?
In terms of a new deadline on the exchange notices, the DOL says it’ll move that up to late summer or early fall, which it says will be in time for the exchanges’ first open enrollment period.
The agency is also thinking about providing model, generic language employers can use to satisfy the exchange notice requirement.
We’ll keep you posted.