The recent mandate enforcement delay is no excuse to ignore the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
That was the warning from benefits compliance specialists at Ernst & Young, who explained during a PPACA compliance webinar Thursday that many important provisions of the law are still in effect.
One example is a notice law that PPACA created: Section 18B of the Fair Labor Standards Act. FLSA Section 18B requires employers to send workes a notice about the existence of the PPACA health insurance exchanges by Oct. 1.
Employers must choose whether to send only part A of the section, which must give general information about the exchange program, or whether to include a second part, part B, that would provide the information that employees need to fill out the exchange enrollment form.
Another PPACA provision that remains in effect, Section 6051 of the Internal Revenue Code, requires employers with group health plans to report total health plan cost information on each employee's Form W-2 by Jan. 31, 2014.
Ali Master, a national tax credits specialists at the firm, said the "transitional relief" notice will simply give employers more time to get ready to comply with the PPACA employer reporting and coverage provisions.
"It's clear," Master said. "Not all of the ACA is on hold. Many pieces are running forward."
Anne Phelps, an Ernst & Young principal who works in Washington, agreed on the need for employers and their benefits advisors to take PPACA compliance seriously.
"The ACA has always been a very political issue," Phelps said. "But it is the law of the land. Nothing that has occurred this week has really changed that. The law remains."
FLSA notice, part B (Labor Department image)
The compliance specialists said employers should use 2014 to learn more about benefits and PPACA.
That includes learning what employees want; how employees might or might not use the new exchange system; explaining the exchange system and the employer's coverage to employees; and testing their ability to track and classify workers as full-time employees, part-time employees or other types of employees in a way that could stand up to a federal audit.
Ernst & Young asked webinar participants to fill out a brief survey asking how the participants' companies might respond to the Treasury Department's plans to delay enforcement of the employer reporting and coverage mandates.
Almost 60 percent of the participants involved with corporate benefits management said their companies were still trying to understand the news, or were not sure what their companies would do.
Close to one-quarter said their companies are moving ahead with full PPACA compliance, and about one in six said their companies are responding to the mandate enforcement delaying by putting PPACA compliance plans on hold.