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The retail industry is applauding the Obama Administration’s decision to delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer mandate in response to information from Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and other trade associations on implementation challenges and the need for further clarification. The employer mandate will now take effect Jan. 1, 2015.
“FMI has been working with the Administration -- Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, Health and Human Services, and the White House -- for the last year and a half to clarify the requirements for employers in implementing the law,” noted Jennifer Hatcher, SVP of government and public affairs at the Arlington, Va.-based organization. “We appreciate their willingness to listen and now to address our concerns that the employer community needs more time and more clarity before the new ACA requirements and mandates fully go into effect. There wasn’t enough time for employers with fluctuating workforces to adequately review all of ACA’s employer rules, modify their plans, build compliance systems and develop reporting mechanisms to be fully in compliance by Jan. 1, 2014.”
Before the mandate goes into effect, Hatcher continued, “we will encourage our members to test the systems through voluntary reporting in 2014."
“This one-year delay will provide employers and businesses more time to update their health care coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment,” said Neil Trautwein, VP and employee benefits policy counsel of the Washington, D.C.-based NRF.
According to Trautwein, the NRF “has worked hard to engage and educate our diverse membership on the upcoming ACA requirements, and consistently and empathetically called on the Administration to delay these specific regulations.” He added that the federation was gratified by the “Administration’s recognition of employer concerns and hope it will allow for greater flexibility in the future.”
“Employer-sponsored coverage is the backbone of health coverage in the U.S, which is why for more than a year retailers have warned that the lack of time to comply with ACA requirements could jeopardize coverage for millions of Americans,” noted Christine Pollack, VP of the Arlington-based RILA.
RILA, along with its member companies and Employers for Flexibility in Health Care (E-Flex) Coalition, has actively pressed the Administration to address the lack of time for employers to comply with the ACA requirements. Last fall, RILA president Sandy Kennedy urged President Obama to provide employers with transition relief under the ACA.