Some Good News about Medicare

Posted by Andre Mayer on Aug 28, 2014 4:51:28 PM

An otherwise mixed report yesterday from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) offered some good news about what was supposed to be the most intractable aspect of federal deficit spending. For the sixth consecutive year, the CBO lowered its projections for the cost of Medicare, because of slower growth (or even outright decline) in expenditure per participant. Since 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was enacted, estimates for the decade through 2020 are down by some $700 billion.

In recent years three distinct federal deficits have raised serious concern about our nation’s future. The first, the budget deficit, is manageable – the last four Clinton budgets, before the Bush tax cuts, the War on Terror, and the Great Recession, were balanced. The second, the projected Social Security deficit, is hardly comparable to the pension crises faced by some European nations; pillowed by its trust fund, our system can be stabilized by further tweaks similar to those already made.

Medicare appeared to be the greatest threat because adverse demographic trends (the aging of the Baby Boom generation) were coupled with a seemingly inexorable rise in health care costs, at rates far above any calculation of cost of living. And the most widely touted remedy, raising the age of eligibility, would cut government spending by shifting the burden to employers. New hope on Medicare costs should help us face up to the long-term fiscal challenges that our country confronts.

Topics: Affordable care Act, Budget

Health Insurance Reporting Requirements Just Got a Little Easier…

Posted by Russ Sullivan on Jul 24, 2013 9:53:00 AM

HIRD form filins in Massachusetts on hiatus

Effective immediately Massachusetts employers are no longer required to collect and retain signed employee Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (HIRD) forms. This comes as a huge relief to many employers who found this practice administratively burdensome.

Since the enactment of Massachusetts Health Care Reform, employers with 11 or more full-time employees have been required to provide this form to employees who decline either employer-sponsored health insurance or the opportunity to purchase health insurance on a pre-tax basis through the employer’s section 125 plan. At AIM’s request, the Governor and legislature have made the employee HIRD form a thing of the past. 

Massachusetts employers should make note of the following changes:

  • Effective July 1, 2013, the Massachusetts Health Connector no longer requires employers to distribute the state employee Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure form to employees.  Until further notice, Massachusetts employers do not have a state-mandated employee health care notification requirement. 
  • Effective October 1, 2013, Massachusetts employers must comply with the Affordable Care Act’s employee notification requirements. The federal form informs employees of their coverage options including their ability to purchase insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector and the possibility of subsidies for certain qualifying individuals.  Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (virtually all employers) need to provide the form to all employees —even when the employer does not offer health insurance and even to employees who do not meet the eligibility requirements of the employer’s health plan.  It is anticipated that the federal notification will be customized to satisfy the state’s requirement that employees be told of their options to purchase health insurance on a pre-tax basis.  However, this notice will not need to be signed, collected and retained. 
  • The employer Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure filing is on a temporary hiatus for 2013. The state plans to resume the employer reporting on a yearly basis in 2014. Although the Fair Share Contribution is eliminated as of July 1st, employers owing a penalty for the second quarter of 2013 or earlier are still obligated to make the payment.  Fair share contributions accruing on June 30, 2013 are due by August 15, 2013.  
AIM will continue to work with the state on these issues as they are further developed and will keep you informed.

Topics: Massachusetts Health Connector, Section 125 Plan, Affordable care Act, HIRD forms, Fair Share Contribution, Fair Share Assessment, Health Care Reform, AIM, Health Care Costs, Human Resources

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