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Benefits players say Trump administration is listening

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Kim Buckey, a benefits compliance specialist, says she’s already seeing signs that the incoming Trump administration wants to talk to her company and its client employers about cutting through red tape.

Buckey is a vice president at Birmingham, Alabama-based DirectPath, a company that helps large employers with tasks such as meeting the federal requirements for preparing, and distributing, summary plan descriptions.

The firm also helps with Affordable Care Act Summary of Benefits and Coverage, 1095-B and 1095-C coverage offer notices, and other ACA notices and data collection efforts.

DirectPath has already reached out to people on the Trump transition team, and they’re trying to nail down a date for a meeting in Washington, Buckey said today in an interview.

The meeting could take place sometime in the next three weeks, Buckey said.

Related: 3 peeks inside the Trump DOL pick’s benefit plans

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Health Agents for America says it believes it will get to meet face-to-face in Washington with representatives from in February.

Donald Trump is set to take the oath of office and enter the White House Jan. 20.

Buckey said her experience is that the Obama administration officials in charge of implementing ACA compliance have been happy to meet with DirectPath, and appreciative of any input DirectPath could provide.

But, given that Trump has run a large business, and many of the top candidates for high-level positions in his administration have also run large businesses, “they’re certainly going to be more attuned to employer pain points,” Buckey said.

Since the President-elect has run a large business, he and his team may be more attuned to employer stresses. (Photo: iStock)Since the President-elect has run a large business, he and his team may be more attuned to employer stresses. (Photo: iStock)

Employer pain points

Most large employers now understand how to handle ACA employee counting and coverage reporting, and they also understand how to prepare SBCs, or “milk carton label” type summaries for health plans, Buckey said.

But, even though large employers know how to meet the ACA paperwork requirements, “it’s still a burden,” she said.

Buckey said she thinks the Trump administration will probably keep a version of at least some of the ACA paperwork requirements, such as the requirement that plans provide Summaries of Benefits and Coverage, because of Trump’s emphasis on transparency.

One change she would like to see federal agencies make under the Trump administration is improving the process for estimating how much new information collection efforts will costs.

The federal Paperwork Review Act requires agencies to estimate how much new reporting requirements will cost consumers, insurers, insurance agents and other people and organizations. But many of the estimates appear to be absurdly low, Buckey said.

“Sometimes it seems like they throw a dart at a dartboard” to come up with an estimate, she said.

She would like to see regulators make more of an active effort to get actual cost data from employers and trade groups.

She would also like to see federal agencies make electronic distribution of benefits documents, such as SBCs, the default, and to apply the same electronic distribution rules to all benefits communications.

Today, she said, different rules apply to different benefits communications, and that leads to big compliance headaches. 


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