During two U.S. House of Representatives committee hearings on the Affordable Care Act’s implementation last week, agency officials stated that despite certain delays, the bulk of the ACA is set to take effect as scheduled. Notably, last month the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the employer mandate provision will be delayed by one year. Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testified at the hearing conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the purpose of this delay was to ease the regulatory burden on employers as they adjust to the new ACA requirements, but that the core elements of ACA will take effect as planned.

For example, open enrollment in the federal and state health exchanges begins on October 1, 2013, and coverage begins on January 1, 2014. A number of lawmakers expressed doubt that the exchange rollout will proceed smoothly, and debated whether employers will reduce hiring and/or employee hours as a result.

Many ACA opponents in Congress mentioned that several union leaders have voiced concern about how the ACA will affect their labor members. Unions have claimed that certain portions of the health care law will make multiemployer plans, which are managed by labor and employer representatives, prohibitively expensive. In response, Tavenner said her office has “had several discussions” with labor leaders about the law.

At the same time, the House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony from Gary Cohen, deputy administrator and director of the CMS’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, and Daniel Werfel, the IRS’s principal deputy commissioner and deputy commissioner for services and enforcement. Both discussed the ACA’s achievements and status of its implementation and emphasized the need for outreach, which CMS is in the midst of, to provide coverage to those who need it most. Links to their testimony can be found here.

Used with permission by Littler Mendelson, P.C. This alert is intended for general information and educational purposes and should not be taken as specific legal advice.

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