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National Restaurant Association - Health care watch: Importance of employer reporting requirements

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Health care watch: Importance of employer reporting requirements

This is one in a series of blog posts on the health care law and the restaurant industry. The articles are written by Michelle Reinke Neblett, the National Restaurant Association's director of labor and workforce policy. The piece is part one of two.

For restaurateurs, the employer mandate is the key element when considering the potential costs of complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Additionally, the compilation of data and filing accurate reports with the federal government also will impose great costs on the industry. Many restaurateurs may not yet be aware of the impact this could have on their businesses.

One of the requirements of the law mandates all employers become an information resource for all employees. Beginning March 1, 2013, employers will have to provide notification to new hires and current employees about how to access the health insurance exchange. This means that if an employer's offered coverage does not meet certain requirements, their employees could be eligible to access coverage from the exchange with federal assistance. And if employees purchase coverage on the exchange, they would then lose the employer contribution and associated tax benefits.

Although the Labor Department has not yet issued guidance on how and what exactly employers must report, the Department of Health and Human Services recently requested public comment on how this and other related requirements would work together.

One interrelated requirement is that the state exchange would determine whether an employee is eligible to access coverage though the exchange utilizing federal premium tax credits or through cost sharing. An employee applying for assistance through the exchange would have to provide certain information to the exchange in order to verify his or her eligibility. If the employee is not able to supply that information, the employee and/or the exchange could contact the employer. As a result, restaurateurs should consider how to handle those inquiries and who in their organizations would serve as the point of contact.

HHS' proposal suggests a short-term option to reduce employee and exchange questions of the employer. The notification employers provide all employees beginning March 2013 would have to include such information as the employer identification number and the employee contribution for the lowest-cost plan offered. Additionally, a longer-term option may utilize data provided by other employer reporting.

The National Restaurant Association plans to submit public comments to HHS and wants to know whether and how you think its reporting requirements would affect your business. Email us at healthcarereform@restaurant.org

The association is committed to your understanding of the law's requirements and its effect on your business. To understand the basics, visit the NRA's Health Care Knowledge Center. If you're interested in the regulations, visit our Health Care Policy page. We'll continue to keep you informed about current health care implementation issues.

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