Brokers who have scrambled for the past year to ensure their employer clients are compliant with the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate, also known as the pay-or-play mandate, took a deep breath last month.
For Mark Gaunya, principal at Borislow Insurance and EBA advisory board member, some of his new business clients were behind in preparations. "We have quite a few prospects that need our assistance and time was running short to help all of them," Gaunya says. "Perhaps now with the delay, we will be able to help more of them and maybe, just maybe, make some tweaks to the law to make it less painful and irrationally tilted toward government overreach."
Business groups are also feeling relief after the White House, in a blog posting from Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, announced it would suspend for one year reporting requirements in 2014 for larger employers to demonstrate compliance with health insurance coverage for employees, including financial penalties.
"We applaud the Obama Administration's decision. ... This provides vital breathing room to implement the law in a more thoughtful and administrable way," James A. Klein, president of the American Benefits Council said in a statement.
Jarrett's post continued with a nod to the White House's communication with such business groups. "In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right. We are listening," she said.
"Most large employers are already offering health coverage," says John Garven, president of Benico Limited, a benefit adviser in the Chicago area. He adds that they planned to continue to do so before the delay, and still will after, but that this delay will help some.
"A lot of our clients are in the hospitality industry and don't offer coverage. They were preparing to do something and now there's one year relief ... my sense is that they'll divert a year," Garven says. "I imagine there will be additional guidance on this and I think this next time around these clients will be even more prepared and hopefully less confused."
United Benefit Advisors CEO and EBA advisory board member Thomas Mangan notes that the delay of the pay-or-play requirement does not affect the insurance market reforms scheduled to take effect at the start of the 2014 plan year.
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