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Hatch: HHS blew through its own PPACA deadline

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A key senator is trying to get HealthCare.gov to send employers notices about employees’ applications for advance premium tax credit (APTC) subsidies as quickly as possible.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has written to Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to try to get her to commit to speed up HealthCare.gov’s employer APTC notice program.

Section 1411(e)(4)(B)(iii) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) required PPACA exchanges to start sending the notices in January 2014.

HHS pushed back its employer notice implementation date. It now says it hopes to start sending the notices this spring and throughout 2016.

See also: PPACA Form 1095-B: CMS to put off full Medicare compliance

HHS and other agencies have also pushed back compliance deadlines for the PPACA employer coverage mandate provision, or “employer shared responsibility” provision. Large employers that failed to offer full-time, year-round employee affordable coverage with a minimum value in 2014 did not have to pay a penalty.

But the PPACA penalty on individual taxpayers who fail to have “minimum essential coverage” (MEC) did start to take effect in 2014. Many employers wanted to get the employer APTC notices so they could help employees resolve any APTC-related tax problems, Hatch writes in the letter to Burwell.

Hatch is asking to give him more details about how HHS will comply with the employer APTC notice requirement, and whether it will consider offering a tax penalty grace period for employees if an exchange calculates APTC amounts incorrectly because of a failure to check with employers to verify the employees’ descriptions of their benefits.

“If HHS is holding the notices and mailing them in batches after open enrollment, taxpayers may owe penalties for the months HHS failed to notify them of HHS’ mistake,” Hatch writes. “How will you help these taxpayers? How will HHS identify employers for whom they do not have a full address?”

Hatch also asked HHS how it will ensure that APTC applicants are reporting their employers’ employer identification numbers correctly.

See also: Lockton: IRS survey may hint at PPACA employer reporting delay