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Thursday, June 29, 2017

3 Compliance Reports You Can Generate Now with ACAwise



Well, folks, with June coming to a close, we’re almost half-way through the year and still with no repeal or replacement for the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Despite the House and Senate both scrambling to introduce replacement healthcare bills, Washington has yet to agree on one, which means the rest of us in the USA remain under the law of the ACA. And that’s why ACAwise is still here, doing more than ever to help you stay compliant with the current laws.

One of the biggest ways we’re helping you stay compliant is offering real-time reports that you can generate right from the Dashboard of your ACAwise account. Once you sign on with our ACAwise compliance features, you can generate any of the following reports to help make sure you’re staying compliant with the most up-to-date IRS and healthcare laws!

Determining Eligibility & Affordability
After you enter your employee details, how can you be sure which ones are eligible for a health coverage offer? And how can you be sure that their premium costs are affordable as required by the ACA? Why, with an ACAwise report, of course! When you generate a report to determine eligibility and affordability, ACAwise interprets the data you’ve entered to see which employees work enough hours to qualify as full-time employees (or full-time equivalents). It also interprets your health insurance data to ensure it’s affordable as outlined by the ACA. With the information in this report, you get a simple and direct way to determine which employees qualify for which health insurance coverage offers you’re required to make.

Monitoring & Forecasting Compliance
Every time you add or change information in your account, ACAwise gets to working monitoring your data to ensure it’s compliant with ACA regulations. Thanks to this real-time monitoring feature, you can generate a Monitoring & Forecasting Compliance report from the Dashboard of your account. With this report, you can get a summary of your year-in-compliance thus far, as well as a forecast of what’s required of you and your company to remain compliant with the ACA for the rest of the year.

Penalty Calculations
Not sure if everything you’ve entered completely follows the compliance regulations set out by the IRS? Generate a Penalty Calculations report! This report is entirely internal, so it doesn’t report anything to the IRS - it just takes the information you’ve entered, compares it to the rules and regulations of the IRS and ACA, and calculates any penalties you may incur if things don’t match up. With this report, you can get an idea of how to proceed the rest of the year to maintain ACA compliance with the IRS.



We’re working every day to make ACA compliance and e-filing easier for you! Sign up today for an exclusive, free demo of ACAwise to get access to the #1 ACA compliance software in the industry!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

AMA Speaks Out: GOP Healthcare Bill Violates 'No Harm' Rule

Last week, we reported on some key facts surrounding the then-not-yet-released Senate GOP healthcare bill. The bill has since been made available for public consumption (and criticism).

The Senate’s Bill
The new bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), aims to roll back and repeal much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including many of the various tax provisions present in the Obamacare legislation. In addition to the bill’s original changes, Senate Republicans released an updated version this past Monday (the 26th) to include a provision meant to replace the individual mandate (instead of a fine, those whose insurance lapses will be locked out of coverage for six months) and close a loophole that could’ve hurt the health insurance market. You can find a breakdown of these changes, as well as the other key provisions of the BCRA, over at Business Insider.

To say this bill has been met with controversy is putting it lightly. Democrats and many other supporters of the ACA are staunchly set against the BCRA because of the conservative direction in which it’ll take our country’s healthcare. Additionally, a number of Republican representatives are against the bill because they don’t find it conservative enough.

What the AMA Has to Say
In a somewhat surprising twist, the American Medical Association also had something to say about the BCRA this past Monday. After researching and taking the bill into consideration, the AMA, one of the largest healthcare lobbying groups in the US, announced its opposition to the BCRA in an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).

AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James Madara, MD had this to say about the new bill:
"Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels.”

The new bill affects Medicaid funding as well as downsizes subsidies individuals can apply for to purchase health insurance. The bill plans to end the ACA’s Medicaid expansion by 2024 as well as put a cap on how much the federal government spends on the program overall. About this, Madara wrote:
“It seems highly likely [that the changes] will expose low and middle income patients to higher costs and greater difficulty in affording care…[This change would] limit states’ ability to address the healthcare needs of their most vulnerable citizens. It would be a serious mistake to lock into place another arbitrary and unsustainable formula that will be extremely difficult and costly to fix.”

The BCRA also contains language that would block Medicaid reimbursements to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. On blocking funding for the women’s health provider, Madara had this to say:
“We also continue to oppose Congressionally-mandated restrictions on where lower income women (and men) may receive otherwise covered health care services - in this case the prohibition on individuals using their Medicaid coverage at clinics operated by Planned Parenthood.”

You can read the AMA’s full letter to the US Senate here, but ultimately, the message it’s meant to deliver is this:
“These provisions violate longstanding AMA policy on patients’ freedom to choose their providers and physicians’ freedom to practice in the setting of their choice.”



It might be too early to say, but given the tumultuous conditions under which the BCRA has come to light, it’s unlikely the bill will pass. Which means we still live in the land of the ACA and may remain here for longer than some Congress members (and citizens) may like. So while we’re still here, know that ACAwise is here too for you! We’ve got year-round compliance tracking to keep your ACA data in order for the next filing season and we’ve got some of the friendliest folks ever on our US-based customer support team to help you through everything!


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Monday, June 19, 2017

5 Facts We Know About the Senate GOP Healthcare Bill

Last month, the House of Representatives voted to pass a GOP healthcare bill meant to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. As is required with new legislation, the bill was then sent to the Senate to be put to a vote there. And while it’s not completely atypical, rather than vote on the House bill, Senate Republicans began drafting their own healthcare bill. What is atypical about the whole process, however, is how secretive the Senate has been regarding exactly what this new bill contains.

In an age of translucency reaching near transparency, it’s difficult for citizens to accept a bill they know nothing about, even though it’s being voted on by officials elected by those citizens. More troubling still, however, is that many of those elected officials are being left in the dark as well. Recently, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky, told NBC News about the bill, “I think it’s being written by someone somewhere but I’m not sure of who or where...If you get a copy of it, will you send me a copy?”

All this is not exactly reassuring, especially considering how divisive a topic healthcare has been since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, as well as how big of an issue it was in the most recent presidential election (and since). Now, insurance companies and individual states find themselves in a sort of limbo regarding what the future of healthcare holds. In some states, the delay in new legislation is driving insurers to raise ACA premiums. And Iowa, where 2 of the 3 top insurers intend to stop selling ACA plans in 2018, is even seeking to rewrite current ACA laws to create financial buffers to cover customers with high medical expenses.

So, with all that in mind, just what do we know about the Senate’s healthcare bill?

It Might Not Have Any Democratic Support
But it might not need it. Senate Republicans are aiming to make their new healthcare bill be budget neutral, which means they can use a process called budget reconciliation to pass it with a simple majority vote. Then, so long as 50 of the 52 Republican senators vote in favor of the bill, it could be passed in the Senate.

About The Writers
Here’s what we know about the writers: there are 13, they’re all Republican, and they’re all men. Among these writers are two of the Senate’s most conservative lawmakers: Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Mike Lee (UT). Two of the five female senators currently in office - Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (WV) and Jodi Ernst (IA) - were invited to join at least one meeting but are not contributing writers. Despite this, the bill is expected to include provisions that affect women more than men.

Regarding Pre-Existing Conditions
One of the biggest issues with the AHCA was that it removed legislation enacted by the ACA that prevented insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. The Senate bill reportedly does not allow insurers to do this, however, it does allow states to choose whether to require insurers to cover essential health benefits, including emergency room and maternity care, hospitalization, and prescription medicines.

It May Be The Nicer Version of the AHCA
There was a lot of excitement in Washington, D.C. after the House passed the AHCA, however, President Trump wasn’t entirely sold on the bill, even going so far as to call it “mean” during a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers according to the Associated Press. This could come from pressure placed on the GOP by the House Freedom Caucus, which stated the AHCA would hit poor and elderly Americans the hardest. In response, Trump has reportedly asked senators to make a “more generous” version.

The Secrecy Tactic is Working But the Bill May Still Fail
While it’s frustrating Democratic lawmakers and citizens alike, keeping the bill a secret seems to be keeping activists from generating any serious resistance. According to Vox, progressive activists are struggling to build enthusiasm against a bill no one - with the exception of certain senators - has read. Despite this, making the bill “more generous,” per Trump’s request, means excluding some of the provisions conservative lawmakers are pushing for the most. This means there's a fair chance the bill may not pass at all, despite the lower simple-majority threshold.



So if this new healthcare bill doesn’t pass, well, that means we’re still stuck with the ACA. Luckily, you’ve got ACAwise here with all the info you need about healthcare legislation, new and old. And while we’re still living under ACA law, we’re here providing year-round compliance tracking and monitoring so when/if it comes time to e-file those ACA Forms again, you’ll be ready!

To learn more about ACA compliance tracking and e-filing with ACAwise, give us a call! We’ll set up a one-on-one demo just for you and get you all set up to remain compliant under the current ACA laws!

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Monday, June 12, 2017

ACA Compliance Tracking is Here!


If you’ve been with us since the beginning, you may remember ACAwise being introduced as the number one, all-inclusive online software for everything ACA. Not only would you be able to e-file your Affordable Care Act Forms 1094 and 1095 with one of the leaders in the IRS-authorized e-filing, but you’d also have a secure, reliable way to track your ACA compliance throughout the year.

Unfortunately, in the midst of the “will they/won’t they” confusion surrounding overturning the ACA earlier this year - and during ACA filing season, no less - our compliance-tracking features took a back seat to helping get your e-filing done. But now, ACA compliance with ACAwise is back, and that means year-round compliance tracking to ensure you’re offering the right health insurance coverage offers to the right employees!

You’ll need to contact our customer support team to set up compliance tracking for your account, but once you have it’s simple, smooth sailing from there. All you have to do is upload your employee information, as well as your health insurance plan(s) details, into your ACAwise account. From there, our program will automatically begin analyzing and tracking your information each day to make sure your full-time employees (and full-time equivalent employees) are receiving the coverage the ACA requires.

From your dashboard, you’ll be able to see this compliance tracking in the form of real-time reports, like Determining Eligibility & Affordability, Monitoring & Forecasting Compliance, and even Penalty Calculations. That’s right: we’ve even included a report that assesses your data to see if you’re at risk of incurring an ACA compliance or reporting penalty.

Another perk worth noting if you go with the ACA compliance tracking option is that ACAwise can use that data it’s monitored all year to complete your return for your ACA reporting each year! Instead of filling out forms or uploading new information, all you’ll have to do is approve that everything looks correct on your forms, then securely e-file them with the IRS.

Seems simple enough, right?

If you’re interested in adding compliance tracking to your ACA profile (or signing up for an ACAwise account!), just give us a call! We’ll talk you through all the details and get you set up with the best online ACA compliance tracking tool in the biz!


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Monday, June 5, 2017

What Do 'We the People' Think of the ACA?


It’s a tumultuous time for health care in our country. At least, for health care coverage and plans, that is. The Affordable Care Act was enacted over seven years ago amidst controversy and, while the nation’s views on the subject have become less clear-cut with regard to party lines, it’s safe to say the discussion surrounding the ACA is still a divisive one.

To remedy the controversy, our newest presidential administration did introduce the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as a replacement for the ACA, but the nuances of the bill couldn’t be agreed upon and the matter was temporarily deferred to focus on other issues. So while we’re stuck in political limbo as far as our health care laws are concerned, just how do the American people view the Affordable Care Act, as it stands? Since an official replacement hasn’t been enacted, it is still the law of the land, which means we’re all still subject to its rules and regulations. But how do we feel about it?

The Kaiser Family Foundation has been running a poll over the past several years asking Americans just that: “As you may know, a health reform bill was signed into law in 2010. Given what you know about the health reform law, do you have a generally favorable or generally unfavorable opinion of it?”


As you can see, since 2010, the percentage of those in favor of the ACA and those against it, overall, are almost equal. Only when the percentage of those who aren't sure of their stance spikes to just over 20% in early 2013 do we see a significant gap between those who are for and those who are against the ACA. But what happens if we break this down further? Say, by how those who were polled identify politically?


Talk about divisive! The only ratings consistently higher than the Democrats' approval of the ACA are the Republicans' disapproval. But really, that's not all too surprising. What if we take something else into account like, say, income?




What’s interesting about this breakdown is that, with the exception of those who make $90,000 or more during the year, those polled generally went from an unfavorable opinion of the ACA to a favorable one. This could be a result of confusion over the ACA’s regulations when it was first introduced being cleared up in the time since those regulations were officially enacted. Still, one has to wonder if it has to do with the fact that the newer legislation introduced as a replacement for the ACA tends to be more beneficial to those with higher incomes.

According to the charts, when broken down by age, the only group now more unfavorable of the ACA than in favor of it are those between the ages of 50 and 64. And while half of both men and women seem to feel more favorable to the ACA, there’s a much more significant gap between women in favor than those against the act.

Keeping in mind that the results based on subgroups may have a higher sampling of error margin than plus or minus 3 percentage points, it’s also worthy to note the difference in opinions among races. Here’s that breakdown, as of May 2017:
  • -White pollers
    • -43% favorable opinion of the ACA
    • -50% unfavorable opinion of the ACA
    • -7% don’t know
  • -Black pollers
    • -73% favorable opinion of the ACA
    • -19% unfavorable opinion of the ACA
    • -8% don’t know
  • -Hispanic pollers
    • -61% favorable opinion of the ACA
    • -22% unfavorable opinion of the ACA
    • -18% don’t know


To see the breakdown of opinions yourself, you can check out the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll’s interactive chart here. And for more information on the ACA, AHCA, and everything in between, stay tuned with ACAwise!

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