October 1, 2013 ACA Notice Requirements for Employers
Confusion reigns regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA") and obligations to provide notices to employees of information regarding the new Health Insurance Market Place ("Exchanges") by no later than October 1, 2013.
WIB has received numerous calls and inquiries concerning the October 1, deadline over the past several days. Understandably, some of the requirements of the PPACA get lost in the myriad of news reports and debates about extending time limits and attacks on program funding.
WIB is therefore publishing an article by Andy DeClercq with links to model notices. Andy is an attorney with Boardman & Clark, LLP - the law firm retained by WIB to assist WIB members.
In the meantime, a couple of key issues include:
Number of Employees: The October 1, 2013 Notice Deadline is not limited to employers with more than 50 employees. The Notice requirement applies to all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). The FLSA covers all employers with at least one employee and at least $500,000 annual business revenue.
Employer Coverage: The October 1, 2013 Notice Deadline is applicable whether or not the employer offers any health insurance to its employees. The model notices used will be different for employers offering health plans from those who do not.
Full vs. Part-Time Employees: The Notice requirements are applicable to both full and part-time employees.
New Hires: Employees hired after October 1, 2013, must be provided applicable notices at the time of hire or within 14 days thereafter.
COBRA Notices: Required COBRA notices for employees have been modified to reflect information on the exchanges.
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Why Congress Must be Wary of Runaway Electricity Prices
The U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released its Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook (STEO), highlighting steady increases in electricity costs — notably 40 percent over the past decade — and projecting further increases next year. With regulations pending on all parts of the supply chain, from the natural gas wellhead to the power plant smokestack, the trend of greater utilization and higher costs will continue. Congress should be concerned.
Today, the affordability issue seems to be losing resonance in the nation's capital and in many statehouses. The reasons are many: concern over the environment and the need for cyber-security upgrades, investments in the grid and build-out of new and advanced power generation.
EIA's confirmation of rising energy prices and mounting pressure on rates begs the question as to whether this is a purposeful shift by policymakers away from a historical "low price" approach. Regardless, policymakers must consider the consequences of such a policy shift, particularly for lower-income consumers, commercial users and industrial users.
Backing into new policy is never a good idea. It's always better for industry, Congress and regulators to collaborate and start with clear and distinct goals.
I would offer two recommendations for their consideration: Reaffirm their historical commitment to minimize electricity costs for end users and consider the negative impact of more regulation and higher infrastructure costs on consumers. Instead of debating whether a utility can afford a new mandate, they should debate what's best for customers and what safeguards are necessary to ensure that our economy is competitive in the global marketplace.
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