Less than 24 hours after the annoucement was circulated, health insurance and employer benefit trade groups appear supportive, rather than critical, of the administration’s decision to delay implementation of PPACA's employer mandate provision. If anything, they have implied a collective sigh of relief that they will be given an additional year to implement the complex law. What are some of the most influential health care policy decision-makers saying? Read on to hear from six of them.
1. National Association of Health Underwriters
Janet Trautwein, NAHU CEO, said that NAHU “appreciates” that the Obama administration has listened to the concerns of American businesses and delayed the penalties for a requirement that was not ready to be effectively implemented.
2. America’s Health Insurance Plans
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, said that “We appreciate that the administration is being responsive to the concerns employers and insurers have raised about the workability of the reporting requirements related to employer health care coverage.” AHIP represents health insurance companies. It has also been a consistent critic of PPACA.
Zirkelbach noted that the decision was based on a reaction to proposed rules dealing with implementation provided by commenters such as AHIP. Zirkelbach said AHIP told the administration that the new law imposes “significant new requirements” on health insurers and employers starting in 2014 including health coverage benchmarks for actuarial value (for individual and small group insurance) and minimum value (for self-funded group health plans and insurance provided to large group health plans) and informational reporting with respect to health coverage.
“It is critical to implement these provisions in a manner that minimizes the burdens on insurers, employers, and individuals and to provide a simplified process for reporting that avoids duplication of effort,” AHIP told the Treasury, Zirkelbach said in noting that it was these type of comments that likely led to the administration’s decision.
3. American Benefits Council
James A. Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, said the delay “provides vital breathing room to implement the law in a more thoughtful and administrable way." The American Benefits Council lobbies for, and advises large companies on, all federal and state employee benefit issues.
Klein said that major employers have led the way in providing coverage to their workers and are expending great resources to ensure compliance with the new law.
“This relief will minimize disruption for employers and their workers," Klein said. He added that the ABC “has been working closely with the Obama Administration for over three years to mitigate wherever possible the cost and burdens of implementing the ACA. We will continue to do so in the months ahead."
4. National Business Group on Health
“This is terrific news for large employers all across the country,” said Helen Darling, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of more than 360 large U.S. employers. She said the one-year delay “will give employers much needed additional time to make any necessary changes to their health care benefit programs and any other decisions to meet the law’s requirements. It also gives employers relief from yet-to-be fully worked out reporting requirements and the administrative burdens of complying with a complex set of rules.”
Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy at the National Business Group on Health, commented, that that the delay is only one year for now and questions whether delays to other provisions in the ACA might loom. “Most large employers are well into finalizing benefit changes and plans for 2014. It may mean a temporary pause for some, for others it may mean no change in their plans for 2014.” But, he said, “it's definitely a reprieve from reporting requirements and the dollars and staff time that would have been diverted to compliance with the mandate, though the law certainly has other components that have added to plan costs and administrative burdens already.”
5. ERISA Industry Committee
Gretchen Young, senior vice president for health policy for ERIC (the ERISA Industry Committee, another employer group), added that the decision to delay implementation is a welcome one, particularly in light of the numerous questions that remained in terms of how companies were supposed to comply with the employer mandate provisions that were originally set to take effect next year.
“We are looking forward to reading formal guidance on this transition rule as the consequences and effect of the delay are not completely clear at this point,” Young said. “We do appreciate the sensitivity of the Administration to our concerns and hope that it will carry forward into other difficult issues as well,” Young added.