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Warner, Portman bill would streamline ACA employer reporting

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to improve burdensome employer reporting requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Commonsense Reporting Act of 2019 would streamline and modernize ACA reporting requirements, ensuring that the Treasury Department has the necessary data to determine availability of affordable coverage, while cutting down on unnecessary paperwork and administrative costs for businesses. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Adrian Smith (R-NE).

Photo Credit: W. Scott McGill

“Businesses in Virginia and across the nation are working hard to comply with our nation’s health care law, and we need to make sure they’re not being penalized due to flaws in the law,” said Sen. Warner. “By improving and modernizing the employer reporting system, this bipartisan legislation will take an important step towards making sure that our health care system works for everyone, including employers who strive to provide suitable coverage for their workers.”

“We thank Senator Mark Warner for his leadership to improve the employer reporting system under the Affordable Care Act. Local businesses are challenged by extensive reporting requirements and paperwork mandates, especially with a flexible workforce. Capital Ale House supports commonsense, bipartisan legislation to streamline the employer reporting system and we appreciate Senator Warner’s efforts on this issue,” said Matthew Simmons, Co-Founder and President, Capital Ale House in Richmond, Va.

“The IRS’s employer reporting requirements offer a significant, complex challenge to Virginia small businesses and employees. With new legislation, Congress can take immediate action to relieve employers and employees of this annual reporting burden and unintended tax implications. We thank Senator Warner for advancing a bipartisan, streamlined solution under the Commonsense Reporting Act,” said Eric Terry, President, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association.

“I have heard from hundreds of employers in Ohio that have spent hundreds of administrative hours attempting to comply with the reporting requirements in the Affordable Care Act. This added time and resources has not improved the quality of health insurance employers offered but only further discouraged employers from offering health insurance and hiring more workers. This bipartisan bill will help streamline the reporting process by allowing employers to report information to the IRS prospectively, easing the burden for employers and employees,” said Sen. Portman.

“It’s critical to ensure that we are making health care as accessible as possible for patients and as easy as possible for businesses to offer. That’s why I am proud to reintroduce the Commonsense Reporting Act, a bipartisan bill to streamline the health insurance reporting process for employers and protect patients from unfair claw backs of their insurance subsidies by making tax credit determinations more accurate. This is a simple way to improve health care access for our communities and ensure businesses can better provide coverage,” said Rep. Thompson.

“Too often employers who provide health insurance are burdened with arbitrary reporting mandates such as those created by the Affordable Care Act. This legislation would create a more efficient reporting system, reducing the risk of surprise financial penalties for both employers and employees. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this commonsense bill signed into law,” said Rep. Smith.

Currently, employers and insurers are required under the ACA to report health insurance coverage information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of the tax year. However, these retrospective reporting requirements create a heavy back-end burden for employers and can lead to reporting discrepancies that end up subjecting employers to IRS tax penalties as well as additional compliance costs and burdens.

The Commonsense Reporting Act of 2019 directs the Treasury Department to implement an alternative, voluntary reporting system that allows employers to report pertinent information about their health plan to the IRS before open enrollment begins. It also modernizes the system by allowing electronic transmission of employee and enrollee statements rather than requiring that this information be sent through the mail. The legislation also limits the collection of useless data and safeguards personally identifiable information by clarifying that the IRS can accept full names and dates of birth in lieu of dependents’ and spouses’ Social Security numbers.

The Commonsense Reporting Act has also been endorsed by American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Rental Association, American Staffing Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., Associated General Contractors of America, Auto Care Association, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, Food Marketing Institute, HR policy Association, International Franchise Association, National Association of Health Underwriters, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Society for Human Resource Management, NATSO for America’s Truck and Travel Stops, and National Association of Home Builders.

A summary of this legislation can be found here. The full text is available here.

augusta free press
augusta free press