01 Mar Regulations and enforcement find new life
By Grant Dattilo –
Elections always effect our businesses, and employers should pay close attention.
The Trump Administration worked to rescind and rewrite a good deal of the Affordable Care Act era regulations and tweak the law wherever it could. Trump’s Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services also selectively restricted enforcement of those regulations.
President Joe Biden, however, appears to share Mr. Obama’s embrace of regulations. Biden’s bevy of executive orders just since January 20 strongly point toward what lies ahead. Employers with group insurance and employee benefits must be ready.
During the Obama Administration (2008-2016), health care and insurance industries found themselves confronting a flood of new regulations. The Affordable Care Act of 2010, in more than 3,000 references ordered the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make decisions and write new regulations. The Secretary began rewriting old regulations and creating new ones.
Other federal departments, likewise, issued new regulations related to the ACA. These cascaded to state departments as well.
By some estimates, the ACA alone created more than 20,000 pages of new federal regulations.
The ACA also specified various penalties for non-compliance, and the largest number of those penalties were borne by employers. How much focus a President’s administration puts on enforcement of those regulations makes a difference. It is likely that enforcement will now increase.
In light of more federal enforcement, employers need to review their internal policies to ensure they are in compliance with federal and state law.
The elephant in the room for employers is the manner and extent to which employers will need to go to prove to the IRS and DOL auditors that they are in compliance, and have been. Considering this, employers should be more cautious and proactive, careful to ensure their records and systems will satisfy federal auditors. A great deal of money is at stake.
Taking Actions Now
- Employers will want to review their Wrap Documents to ensure they are up to date, and complete. Make sure employees have signed them.
- Employers will want to ensure they have provided employees with the latest, most current Summary of Benefits Coverage document.
- Make sure you have shared the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) document with employees.
- Conduct a compliance review across your entire employee record systems.
DCI believes that electronic time-stamping showing each time an employee opens a required document that the employer has provided will be sufficient to prove compliance during an audit. A digital time-stamp should establish proof that the employer has complied. Electronic time-stamping provides a safe, secure way to escape surprisingly large fines.
Time stamping from an electronic document vault allows an employer to print out a report for an auditor – or during internal compliance audits – showing each active employee by name, date and time they opened a required document. This would be the most time efficient process in meeting these requirements.
It is unlikely that the number of regulations and their enforcement will fall in the next few years. DCI works hard to stay ahead of these, to advise clients and help them reduce their vulnerabilities.