Monday, December 17, 2018

Court Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional, What Happens Now?

Obamacare unconstitutional, says judge in Texas case

Months after litigation in Texas vs. The United States began, America has an answer to “Is Obamacare unconstitutional?” and that answer, announced on Friday, Dec. 14th, is yes.

NPR reports that the judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor, took strongly into account a 2017 congressional tax bill that eliminated the individual mandate (a penalty for people who didn’t have or go get health insurance). Without the individual mandate, O’connor rules the ACA is unconstitutional.

How Open Enrollment 2019 Figures In

News outlets have noted that the ruling came a mere 24 hours before open enrollment 2019 closed, which was anticipated by many to be the day of the biggest signup numbers this season. A possible reason the decision Obamacare’s constitutionality rests with a request the Department of Justice made back when litigation began in September, asking the ruling to be postponed until after midterm elections and open enrollment.

Is The Affordable Care Act Still In Effect?

While the ruling has been made, concerns and questions about is the Affordable Care Act still in effect are valid. According to a statement from the White House, the law will remain in place until the appeals process is completed.

Seema Verma, who presides over Medicare and Medicaid, said in a statement on Twitter on Friday that “There is no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan,” and that the marketplace and exchanges would continue as usual for the Open Enrollment 2019 season.

NPR reports that none of the Republican governors of the 20 states listed as plaintiffs in Texas. vs. United States mentioned the ruling on their personal Twitter accounts, perhaps because there is more litigation to come to determine is the Affordable Care Act still in effect.

They Ruled Obamacare Unconstitutional, What Now?

According to HealthLeader’s Media, Democratic attorneys general from the 16 states who intervened Texas vs. United States are expected to appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans, which yields a less certain answer to “Is Obamacare unconstitutional?”

Despite the recent tumult and uncertainty about open enrollment 2019, ALEs are still responsible for their 2018 ACA reporting. Why not let ACAwise’s full-service IRS-authorized reporting solution shoulder that burden instead? Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What To Do When You Receive Letter 226J From The IRS

Concerned employer and HR manager reading Letter 226J from the IRS
Receiving a Letter 226J from the IRS typically comes emotions resembling shock or concern. Due to the complexity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known by most as just the ACA), employers must handle the ACA penalty process with urgency.

Thousands of employers receive IRS Letter 226J each year for failing to comply with shared responsibility provisions stated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but are unsure of the next steps to take. We’d like to remedy that. Here is what to do when you receive Letter 226J from the IRS.

What To Do When You Receive Letter 226J From The IRS

Read Letter 226J in Detail

It is important to thoroughly read through Letter 226J to gain a better understanding of the notice. IRS Letter 226-J is issued to Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) responsible for Employer Shared Responsibility that failed to comply in some way. ALEs have 30 days to review and respond prior to the IRS demanding payment and taking further action.

Note: If your organization decided to not offer healthcare coverage, you should anticipate receiving this letter along with IRS penalties. Factor the cost of these penalties into your annual business expenses.

Refer to IRS Forms 1094-C & 1095-C

If you disagree with the notice sent by the IRS, review your Form 1094-C and 1095-C immediately. One of the most common reasons for organizations receiving a Letter 226J is an inaccuracy on completed 1094-C & 1095-C Forms.

If you need to correct any information on these forms, do not resubmit an amended version to the IRS. You will need to make these corrections as part of your response to the IRS.

Respond Strategically

If you feel that your company has received Letter 226J in error, you must respond within 30 days. Although the amount of time to respond is limited, it is very important to confer with other executives within the company prior to contacting the IRS about the perceived violation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Contact your CFO, owner, or any other internal experts that should be a part of the conversation. Depending on the structure and type of organization, it might be in your best interest to seek external or internal legal counsel.

Complete & Submit IRS Form 14764

Upon receiving your notice in the mail, you must agree or disagree with the included assessment from the IRS. If you agree with the penalties that are listed in the assessment, simply complete IRS Form 14764 and include the payment for your organization.

ALEs that disagree with the assessment provided by the IRS must explain the discrepancies and supply detailed information proving your claim, along with the specific corrections that must be made to previously filed 1094-C or 1095-C Forms.

Note: Do not resubmit IRS Form 1094-C/1095-C instead of completing Form 14764.

Receive Confirmation From the IRS

After Form 14764 has been submitted the IRS will send you Letter 227. This letter contains the next steps that your organization is required to take. Disputed payments may come with an additional request for further information or a new penalty amount.

Organizations that still disagree with the penalty can also request a Pre-Assessment Conference with the IRS Office of Appeals but must do so within 30 days of receiving IRS Letter 227.

Easily Handle ACA Reporting Using ACAwise

Want to avoid being caught unawares by a Letter 226J in the future? Handle your Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reporting with ACAwise. Our all-inclusive online software is designed to meet the specific reporting needs of ALEs and TPAs. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Why the IRS Changed the 2018 ACA Reporting Deadline

The IRS made an announcement earlier this week that completely changes the ACA reporting requirements 2018: The deadline changed. That’s right, your ACA reporting as a completely new due date. 
The IRS has extended the recipient copy deadline for 2018 ACA reporting.

So What’s New ACA Reporting Deadline?

Initially, your 1095-B and 1095-C forms were going to be due to your recipients by January 31st, 2019. But following the announcement, recipient copies are now due March 4, 2019

The 2018 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, and 2018 Form 1095-C, Employer-provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, need to be offered by applicable large employers (ALEs)––typically with 50 employees or more–– as evidence of offered minimum essential coverage.

March 31st is the due date to furnish 1095-B and 1095-Cs to the IRS if the aforementioned ALEs filed their ACA reporting electronically, and February 28th is the date to furnish those ACA forms if they had elected to paper file, at least under the initial ACA reporting requirements 2018.

This week’s announcement only alters the recipient copy deadline, which was the first of the ACA reporting deadlines in 2019. It does not extend the deadline by which ALEs must send their 1095-B and 1095-C forms to the Internal Revenue Service, which remains February 28, 2019 for paper filers and April 1, 2019 for e-filers.

Why Change the Deadline for ACA Reporting Now?

The IRS is known to be lenient in times of disaster, allowing areas affected by hurricanes and forest fires an extended period of time to file their required forms.

While California’s lethal November Camp Fire may be part of the reason behind the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to extend the recipient copy deadline, the official cause released by the IRS is rather simple: people just don’t have enough time.

According to this notice on the new ACA reporting requirements 2018, the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the IRS had a discussion with stakeholders, and have determined that a large number of employers, insurers, and other minimum essential coverage providers need additional time beyond the January 31, 2019, due date to gather and analyze the information and prepare their 2018 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to go out to recipients. ALEs do not have to show additional documentation explaining why they are filing by the “later” March 4, 2019 deadline.

The IRS has extended the recipient copy deadline for 2018 ACA reporting.Other Changes to ACA Reporting 2018

If any ALE needs even more time to furnish 1095-B and 1095-C forms for 2018 than the four weeks and four days provisioned under this new announcement, they can’t do it the old-fashioned way.

Regulations under sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code allow the IRS to grant extensions up to 30 days if an ALE shows reasonable cause, and ACA reporting filers can also get another month by filing Form 8809 on or before their original due date. However, in light of the extended 2019 deadlines for 2018 recipient ACA reporting, extensions are not a valid option. Extensions appear to remain available, however, for filing the 1095-B and 1095-Cs with the IRS.

The IRS notice may have bought you some time, but you should be thinking of your ACA reporting now more than ever. ACAwise is a full-service ACA reporting solution, and our account executives are standing by, ready to help you meet your ACA reporting requirements 2018.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Midterm Elections 2018: The Future of the Affordable Care Act

2018 midterm election results affect Obamacare

Now that the dust is starting to settle from the results of the 2018 midterm elections, projections for what the 116th Congress could mean for key legislation is starting to trickle in. Given how prominent an issue health care was in driving people to the polls, interest won't be soon to fade.

How Midterm Elections 2018 Will Affect the ACA

According to Healthcare IT News, HIMSS Senior Director of Congressional Affairs Samantha Burch believes that “Repeal and Replace” has been laid to rest after the results of 2018 midterm elections, which saw Democrats win control of the House of Representatives.

TIME reports that Democrats gained 27 seats, and with those seats, a slim majority. The new balance of Democrats in Congress is likely to mean a renewed focus on bolstering the Affordable Care Act, however, Burch notes that the House and Senate still have to work together. Thus, not all measures will necessarily be passed. But Burch does hold that the new House could carve a space for health IT priorities.

Democratic control of the House also means that any efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act are likely to be blocked, an initiative that appears to have been at the forefront of people’s minds as they showed up to vote in midterm elections 2018. The Affordable Care Act will be protected for the next two years with the makeup of the current House, Steven Lopez, associate director of UnidosUS' health policy project, has stated.

SyncStream Solutions released a forecast to ACAwise detailing that the results of midterm elections 2018 all but solidify that the employer mandate will remain; conversely, this means the individual mandate will remain repealed.

It is also projected by SyncStream that the protections for pre-existing conditions will remain intact given who won midterm elections in 2018. Legislation to repeal these protections is not likely to pass through a Democrat-controlled House.

One facet of the Affordable Care Act whose future is a little less certain is the Cadillac Tax. Since it faces opposition on both sides of the aisle, a repeal could still be on the horizon.

The Results of 2018 Midterm Elections

The candidates who won midterm elections in 2018 will help to make this the most diverse legislative class of Congress in history. As of November 27th, CNN reports that Democrats have won 38 seats, with a record number of women being elected to office.

USA Today places that figure at over 100 women in all midterms, representing ⅔ of the districts Democrats flipped. Other firsts for midterm elections 2018 include: the youngest congressperson ever elected (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY], the first Muslim congresspeople (Ilhan Omar [D-MN ]and Rashida Tlaib [D-MI] ), and first Native American congresspeople (Sharice Davids [D-KS] and Deb Haaland [D-NM] ). For the full list of diverse victories overall in the midterm elections 2018, click here.

Does This Affect Obamacare’s Current Litigation?

Bustle reports that Texas vs. the United States, the marquee clash against the Affordable Care Act, is likely to experience a change in of one of its key litigators. Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is projected to lose his seat to Democratic opponent Josh Kaul, who promised during his campaign to support the Affordable Care Act. Schimel is still waiting for all ballots to be counted.

While the Affordable Care Act is at the forefront of mind, have you thought about how you’re going to handle this year’s reporting? If you’re starting to stress, let ACAwise take it off your hands. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Compliance Checklist You Need to Prime For Success

Compliance can be overwhelming. This guide breaks it down.

There is a lot more to corporate compliance than filing your taxes on time. And while this compliance guide is far from comprehensive, making sure these aspects are in order is a great start to ensuring your company’s longevity.

Hiring Compliance

Compliance starts even before you have employees. Hiring practices can come under fire in the event of an audit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Should someone decide to whistleblow your hiring practices––warranted or not–– you need to be able to defend yourself.

The first step towards corporate compliance when it comes to the EEOC is, of course, not being discriminatory in your hiring practices. However, that alone is not enough; you need to be able to furnish evidence that your company has been obeying corporate compliance guidelines.

Should the EEOC come knocking you need:

  • Concrete evidence pertaining to and explaining why certain applicants were selected over others. This means being able to both highlight why some candidates stood out and point out why others were disqualified.
  • To check that your hiring managers are treating all potential hires equally, which can include things like
    • Drug testing only certain applicants based on their perceived background
    • Only reviewing applications for candidates who meet criteria not related to job skills
    • Preferencing family members of current employees

Immigration Documentation Compliance

Corporate compliance continues once you select a new hire. Now you have to prove your new hire can legally work in the U.S. by submitting an I-9.

The first step in maintaining immigration compliance is making sure your paperwork is up-to-date. Having thorough records won’t save you during an audit if those records were outdated when issued. Therefore, as soon as you start compiling an onboarding paperwork packet, check to make sure you’re using an updated version of I-9

Ideally, they sign all their paperwork when they sign their offer letter, but if for some reason they have not, the last day a new hire can sign their I-9 is their first day of work. After that, you, the employer, have no more than three business days after that to complete the I-9 Section 2.

Other regulatory compliance requirements include keeping I-9s on file for as long as that person is employed by your company. Additionally, you need to hold onto their I-9 paperwork for either 3 years, or a year after their termination, whichever is last.

Break down compliance regulations with this guide

ACA Compliance

In order to maintain Affordable Care Act compliance, you need to be offering affordable coverage to everyone in your employ if you have 50+ full time employees. You need to make sure the coverage you’re offering is actually affordable, that your lowest-salaried employee can still survive off of what remains of their paycheck once health insurance is deducted. Your company health care only needs to be what is called ”minimally essential,” but run the numbers every year to make sure your cheapest plan is as affordable as you think

Affordable coverage is a great start, but ACA compliance is two-fold: you need to also prove you offered your employees the health care options.

Your proof of offered coverage is the 1094 and 1095 forms that you need to file with the IRS, which you can do right here on ACAwise.

File My 1094/1095

OSHA Compliance

The mainstays of Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance are fairly simple. First, is the procedures poster (that you’re required to have) clearly visible? This means it is not posted on the side of the breakroom fridge, or in only one of the bathrooms.

Second, are the emergency telephone numbers posted in logical place? While it might be useful to have Poison Control in the bathroom, perhaps ensure that it is posted in the break room or kitchen area as well.

While it’s not necessarily OSHA practice, make sure the phone numbers of important (insofar as it pertains to an emergency) office personnel are easily accessible. Make a spreadsheet all employees can access, or appoint a crisis manager per each shift and make sure they have all the information they’ll need to handle an emergency.

Regulatory Payroll Compliance

A lot of payroll compliance comes down to paperwork. In addition to filing your 941s, 940s, and 1099/W-2s on time, you also need to check that: 
  • All employee SSN on file are correct
  • Employees input the correct address for their W2/ 1099s
  • Your withholding rates and handbook are up-to-date 
  • Employees are classified properly (in terms of exempt, nonexempt) and that the corresponding overtime rates match state/ federal requirements
  • If your business is along state lines your work-from-home policy deals with workers from out of state and ensures that state’s proper payroll compensation rate

Note: It is assumed that you have a system in place that tracks time and attendance, but a lesser-known time and attendance compliance requirement is that timecards must be kept for at least two years.

Maintaining company compliance on all fronts is a big undertaking, but if you break it down into smaller, attainable steps, you can pass any audits with flying colors. We can’t be with you every step of the way, we can make sure ACA compliance is one less thing for you to worry about. Schedule an appointment with our account managers today!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Cheaper Obamacare 2019 Premiums on the Way

Obamacare 2019 could bring welcome lower market premiums.

Obamacare 2019 premiums are finally falling. CNN reports that the drop in the insurance premium is the first since 2014, when the Affordable Care Act exchanges opened. The insurance premium for the benchmark silver plan is expected to decline by 1.5%, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This shakes out to approximately $6 saved a month.

Insurance Premium Plummet?

Part of the cause behind the benchmark insurance premium skyrocketing in the first place was market instability. Insurers hiked the premiums to cover their anticipated losses in a time of market upheaval. There is also conjecture that premiums have fallen because repealing Obamacare was a non-event, and will remain stalled during the open enrollment period.

Obamacare 2019 On the Rise

The amount of insurers on the federal exchange is also anticipated to grow for the first time since 2015; CNN cites 23 more carriers in the Obamacare 2019 open enrollment market than were present last year.

USA Today says that Tennessee is expected to receive the biggest Obamacare 2019 premium drop––26%–– and that the average premium for the "benchmark" plan will cost $406 next year. However, as each of the 39 states offering Obamacare 2019 differ slightly in their marketplaces, their insurance premiums deviate slightly. Wyoming clocks in at the highest anticipated benchmark insurance premium cost, $709, while Indiana's $278 clocks in as the lowest insurance premium for Obamacare 2019. 

Low and Behold

The lower insurance premium could be a boon for people who don’t qualify for premium subsidies (given that the subsidies cover 90% of the Obamacare health insurance policy’s cost). CNN reports that most of the people dropping out of the Obamacare market departed because they didn’t qualify to receive subsidies, and thus shouldered a lot of the impact of the past rate hikes.

With more people poised to enroll in Obamacare, make sure you have a reporting strategy in place. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to get your 1094 and 1095 forms into the proper hands, ahead of deadline. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How To Use Effective Listening Skills for Business Success

Business leaders celebrating the use of effective listening skills for business successThere are many factors that come into play while achieving business success. Early mornings. Late nights. Dedication. Sacrifice. Most successful businesses require each of these, along with listening skills to eliminate unnecessary barriers that may present themselves along the way. You’d actually be surprised at how much you learn just by using strong listening skills! Today, we will learn how to use effective listening skills for business success.

How To Use Effective Listening Skills for Business Success

Listen to Your Business Partners

Most successful businesses have found that it is difficult to grow a business if proper communication skills are not used–especially when communicating with colleagues. Having good communication and listening skills help to compress the learning curve as a business executive.

Instead of learning things the hard way, take advantage of the advice shared by those that have experienced the highs and lows of business leadership. Listen to people in your network and always remain teachable. Any insight you can glean from your circle is worthwhile!

Effective Listening Helps When Dealing with Clients

“The customer [client] is always right”

We know, you have heard this line thousands of times. Although this is a cliché, there is much truth to the statement. When conversing with clients, use strong listening skills to gain a better understanding of their wants and what they enjoy (or dislike) about your company.

There are plenty of positive ways of communication that can lead to a healthy discussion with your clientele. Jot down a few questions that trigger great dialogue –– the more you find out, the better you can grow your company.

Effective Listening To Your Employees

It’s no secret that workplace morale improves when people feel heard. Make an effort to engage with your employees, even when they don’t have a problem. Set the standard for workplace communication skills by being receptive. If you can, try to enact an open-door policy during some hours of the day, or by letting your employees know the best times of the day to email you if they need an immediate reply. Effective listening starts with simply being there to talk to.

The next step after being there when your employees bring their problems to you is to demonstrate concern. Even if their problem is minor in your scheme of things, it is a big deal to your employee if they have bothered to come to you. Remember to nod and maintain eye contact during the exchange, and make sure your employee leaves the meeting feeling like you have a grasp on what was bothering them.

Never Forget To Listen to Yourself

Your arsenal of listening skills should include listening to yourself. You know that inner voice that you hear sometimes and tend to avoid? Start listening to it! Trust your personal judgment in certain situations but most importantly, when your body tells you to slow down, do so.

It is very easy to become immersed in their work, which leads to over-exhaustion and burnout. This can be avoided by engaging in activities that are beneficial to your health and peace of mind. Schedule “down-time” and do enjoyable things with your family and friends. Eat well and get rest.
Your company needs you, so always make yourself a priority!

How Most Successful Businesses Use Effective Listening

The use of effective listening and positive communication will help you on the path to business success. Here are some final takeaways that you can benefit from for years to come:

    Company executive using effective listening skills for business success
  • Build a Strong Network of Most Successful Businesses
  • Listen to Your Support System
  • Have an Open-Door Policy With Employees
  • Initiate Dialogue With Your Customers
  • Listen To & Trust Your Gut Instinct
  • Make Yourself a Priority
Now that you have a better understanding of how to use effective listening skills for business success, what about tax preparation?––more specifically, ACA reporting. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today!

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