Thursday, July 4, 2013
On Tuesday, July 2, the Obama Administration announced a one year postponement of the mandate that requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance to these employees.
Initially, as of January 1, 2014, companies who do not provide their employees with health insurance would have faced a significant monetary penalty of $2,000 per employee. This is welcome news to the entire home health care industry.
The decision to postpone the ‘employer mandate’ was made after an in-depth analysis involving members of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), the Government Affairs Committee, the Home Care and Hospice Financial Managers Association, and the Forum of State Associations. They concluded that this mandate would cause major problems that would subsequently destabilize the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and most likely jeopardize patients’ access to care.
While most large employers are providing the kind of coverage required by the ACA already, companies in the restaurant, retail, hospitality, and home health care industries have pushed hard for a reprieve.
Thin profit margins and other practical concerns make it difficult for employers in these industries to comply with the ACA mandate. Some have announced that they intend to reduce the number of hours they allow employees to work, thus minimizing the cost of providing benefits or paying penalties even at the risk of facing employee-initiated litigation.
The NAHC asked the Administration to consider home health care and hospice providers who are stretched to capacity as the numbers they provide care for increase. Home health care, in the form of home care aides, personal care assistants, and nurses, will be the most needed profession over the next ten years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but will be in short supply.
President Val J. Halamandaris of NAHC made the following statement: “We are grateful that the Obama Administration has heard the cries of small employers who want very much to comply with the provisions of the ACA but simply cannot do so. Postponing the effective date for imposing a penalty of $2,000 per employee on companies who do not provide them with health care coverage is a good start but it is only a delay on the way to a permanent solution.”
The ACA penalties imposed on employers for failure to provide minimum coverage will not apply for 2014. It is now being delayed until 2015. However, the one-year reprieve does not apply to the individual mandate by the ACA that is scheduled to take place in 2014. While most home health care agencies will feel some measure of temporary relief from this decision, the problems will remain waiting one year down the road.