Employer Update: Affordable Care Act (ACA)

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With recent announcements of delay, website troubles, and canceled health insurance, many employers are left unsure what to make of it all. Here’s a quick update:

  • The Obama administration announced today that healthcare.gov is unable to enroll small businesses online until November 2014—a one year delay, though businesses may continue to sign up through paper applications, agents, brokers, or directly through an insurer. However, this news should not impact most Washington small businesses as the delay only applies to the 36 states where the federal government runs the new insurance exchange. Washington runs its own insurance exchange, available at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.
     
  • In response to insurers canceling the health insurance plans of millions across the nation, the Obama administration recently announced that state Commissioners could essentially “un-cancel” the old plans by allowing insurance companies to sell them for one more year despite the fact that the plans do not comply with the ACA. However, this was already rebuted by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler of Washington state (where an estimated 290,000 residents received notices of canceled plans) who announced that he will not allow insurance companies to extend their old policies. Moreover, as this change applies to the individuals, employers only need to be concerned to the extent that they are impacted by the ACA’s individual mandate.
     
  • Yesterday the Unites States Supreme Court announced that it would review two ACA cases, including the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case, that challenge the government regulation that requires employer-sponsored health plans to cover certain contraceptives. The Supreme Court will review whether this requirement is a violation of the free exercise of religion rights of for-profit corporate employers. Oral argument will likely be held in March 2014, with a decision in June 2014. Stay tuned!

For those who were able to attend our October 2013 Employment Law Breakfast, the good news is that the abovementioned delays do not impact the information shared during the breakfast!

We’re honored to be one of your ACA resources! As always, we will continue to keep up-to-date on the news and developments and will pass along information as it comes to us.

Note: This blog entry was co-authored by Shawn Butler

 


About the Authors

Lauren Parris Watts

Lauren Parris Watts’ practice focuses on representing and advising individual clients and small to medium-sized business clients in risk management, contractual matters, employment and general tort litigation. She counsels clients on a variety of issues, including compensation and severance agreements, non-competition and non-solicitation restrictions, disability accommodations, FMLA and other leave rights and misconduct investigations. She also represents her clients in lawsuits alleging wrongful termination, sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination.

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