Benefits professionals have been on a never-ending regulatory road trip since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and employers everywhere are asking “are we there yet?”

“It’s been an amazing, expensive and time-intensive journey,” said Sally Wineman, area SVP, compliance counsel at Gallagher Benefit Services, speaking Wednesday at EBN’s Benefits Forum & Expo in Orlando, Fla.

And, she added, everybody is starting to get a little road weary and frustrated with the journey.

Also see: ACA subsidies, Cadillac tax, fiduciary hearings spark plenty of discussion

“The ACA and all these regulations have taken us from our business objectives and we’ve moved away from those [to] trying to figure out how this [ACA] is all going to work, and that’s a shame,” she said.

Looming reporting requirements are a cause of concern for many employers, she noted. Employers with 50 or more full-time employees will have to comply with the employer mandate rules in 2016 and report to the IRS details of offers of health coverage to full-time employees.

Also see: The ACA: Know your number

To ease things the transition to the new reporting rules, she advised attendees to keep a detailed account of everything that has happened with the workforce. “There’s a lot of detail that goes into that and a lot of places you can get into trouble,” she added, noting more information and guidance from federal agencies would be a beneficial.

“I know that if I take a two-week trip, I will not, by the 14th day remember what I did the first day,” she added, comparing the reporting preparation to a travel diary. “It takes me a minute to recollect, and I think that’s going to be the case for us. As we get to the end of 2016 and begin to report to the IRS, we will want to make sure we have our travel log.”

Small to mid-size employers – those with 50-99 employees – have been sitting in the backseat of the reporting car as their reporting requirements were delayed. But, Wineman cautioned, the mid-size employers will soon be moving to the middle of the car, and added that many are “way behind” in the knowledge necessary to be successful.

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“While some are waiting to see where the wind will take them, others are set with vendors and ready to go,” she added. But, she cautioned, employers are ultimately responsible for complying with the reporting requirements even if they’re using vendors to help them. “Even with a GPS, you have to keep your eyes on the road,” she said.

Some of the upcoming roadblocks she notes include:

  • The 2016 presidential election.
  • A potential repeal of the ACA.
  • A potential repeal or the Cadillac tax.
  • A potential increase in the number of hours employees need to work to be considered full time up to 40 from 30.
  • A potential exemption for small employers from the employer mandate.

Even if a full repeal of the ACA doesn’t happen, employers can expect to see tweaks to the law, said Wineman.
Also see: Hope of congressional intervention shifts ‘Cadillac tax’ to neutral

As for the Cadillac tax, continue to plan, she advised. While Congress may or may not make decision on a full repeal or tweaks to the excise tax, continue to plan for it and then be “happily surprised if it gets repealed,” she said.

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