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Employers examine options among ACA provisions

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Critics caution that the employer mandate will drive firms to cut hours and cut positions to avoid the responsibility.

Employers are examining their options among the Affordable Care Act provisions in 2014, says Tami Simon, managing directory of Buck Consultants, a global HR benefits consulting services firm.

“To the extent that they’re given an opportunity to try to implement and work with the regulators to get input, that’s probably the best-case scenario,” Simon says. “They’re worried and are trying to do the right thing.”

On Monday, the Obama administration announced businesses employing 50 to 99 full-time employees have until 2016 to provide healthcare to employees before facing a penalty.

Critics caution that the employer mandate will drive firms to cut hours and cut positions to avoid the responsibility.

"Clearly most employers that are going to continue their health insurance benefits aren’t necessarily thinking about dumping their employee benefits and going to the public exchanges," Simon says. That’s true of larger employers-more than 90% of which offered health insurance prior to ACA.

Opponents to ACA have called for a revision to the individual mandate, too, asking that the $95 penalty be nixed at the end of 2014 for those who don’t have coverage.

“The current political environment is so unpredictable right now that I don’t think anybody can really tell what’s going to happen,” Simon says. “My suspicion is that full repeal will be very hard, but perhaps there will be some nips and tucks and tweaks to the law, as most laws are nipped and tucked after passage. No law that’s ever passed is ever perfect, and you always have to make some changes or corrections. It evolves over time. That’s why we have the regulatory process that’s why we have technical corrections in the entire legislative process.”

She says the industry will just have to hold its breath and wait for the mid-term elections. 

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