HR/benefits professionals spin possible plans on eve of Supreme Court ruling
If they uphold the entire law, which is what I would predict, then its time for employers to get to work, says Blumling. I can tell you first hand there have been a lot of employers sitting on the sideline waiting to invest time and energy and the thought process to get ready for health care reform.
Employers would immediately need to plan for the employer play or pay mandate and upcoming compliance requirements, such as preparing their Summary of Benefits and Coverage and W-2 reporting on the cost of coverage.
If the Supreme Court only strikes down the individual mandate, he believes it would not have an immediate impact on employers though he warns that insurance carriers would probably increase health premiums gearing up for 2014 more than they would have.
If the entire law is struck down, upcoming compliance requirements would probably be put on hold, but their plans, which have a lot of features in them that they didnt have pre-health care reform, are still contracts. Taking the law out of the picture doesnt change your contract, advises Blumling.
If the Supreme Court strikes down the entire law, Carreno says that First of all, we would definitely review what the decision is all about, and see what would be beneficial for all employees and the employer at the same time, trying to find a middle ground to make everyone as happy as possible. If the top court strikes down just the individual mandate, It depends on what fits best for everyone. Well cross that bridge when we get there, adds the HR generalist for the Fairfax, Va. property management company.
If the Supreme Court upholds the mandate and the entire law, she explains that I know my company is not ready to figure out exactly what were going to be doing. We dont want to speculate on whats going to happen. Were all just waiting around, sitting and wondering what were going to do when we get there.
If PPACA is upheld: "Dont get distracted. You have some short term, fairly intensive compliance deadlines youve got to meet. You may be a bit behind with all the distractions from the Supreme Court oral arguments and the media but its time to make sure youre on schedule for meeting those deadlines, says Munn.
"All of the employer stuff is still there if the individual mandate is struck down and youve still got those compliance deadlines to meet. There may be a longer term conversation around what this means for the exchanges but, for now, youve got to be thinking about how do I get my summaries of benefits coverage out the door come open enrollment?
Finally, if the entire law is struck down, Munn says, "The first thing employers should be thinking about is whether they have the time and the inclination to make benefits changes for 2013. In conversations Ive had with employers they suggest the age 26 [dependent coverage] provision alone adds 2% to their cost of providing coverage. Even though the carriers are saying theyre going to continue with that provision, depending on where an employer is in the economic recovery, what their cost challenges are, they may want to take some of these provisions back. So the first challenge for them to think about is what do I do with these provisions that the law put into place that are no longer there? And if I do decide to scale back on those, when do I do that2013 or 2014?"
Natarajan believes if the Supreme Court upholds the law or only strikes down the individual mandate, sponsors would continue to implement provisions as they have been. The very first course of action would be to meet with a broker and find out all of the deadlines, says the former benefits manager from Chantilly, Va.
If the Supreme Court strikes down the entire law, she believes We have to look at the cost of the provisions already included in the plan, such as the young adult coverage provision. If it is beneficial and good for the organization then we should decide to keep it, but if it is going to be extremely expensive to maintain then I still think that companies should think through what they want to do...and [avoid] making any [rushed] changes and causing confusion, she adds.
What do I think the Courts going to do? My safe bet is that the court will invalidate the individual mandate but leave the bulk of the act standing. If they do that, I believe it will be a 5-4 vote. If Im more of a gambler, I believe by a vote of 7-2 or 6-3 the court will uphold the entire act. The third scenario is that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and so the whole act falls. Of the three [scenarios], I think its the least likely, forecasts Kushner of the Portage, Mich.-based consultancy.
Just one day before the Supreme Court is due to rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, benefits industry professionals are planning for every outcome. Whether the entire health care reform law is upheld, only the individual mandate is invalidated or the law is struck down completely, employers and health care experts have begun strategizing for each what if scenario. EBN interviewed a group of HR/benefits professionals, legal experts and consultants to find out what immediate action they will take depending on what the Court ultimately decides in its ruling, due June 28.