Chamber discusses Employer Mandate

LEWISTOWN – Defining the Employer Mandate under the Affordable Care Act was the topic of discussion during an event sponsored by Juniata Valley Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday at the ComPASS Center in Lewistown.

Thomas Schimmer, vice president of Emerson Reid & Co., gave a brief background on how the law came to be. On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in to law. Last summer, several governors filed a lawsuit in attempt to block the act, but the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Obama administration and ruled the law constitutes a tax.

Schimmer said the law does a great job of covering those who do not have benefits, however, what it doesn’t do is figure out how to pay for all that.

Ben Pfizer with Capitol Blue Cross said there are a number of factors that will lead to increased costs for the healthcare industry, which in turn will be passed on to the employer and employee.

Shelly Bloom, Manager-Consulting, Emerson Reid & Co., emphasized how important it is for employers to consult with experts, such as their attorneys, CPAs and brokers, sooner, rather than later.

Bloom said their complex issues that employers need to discuss with their experts, such as the calculations in determining who constitutes a full- and part-time employee, subsidies available for individuals, what minimal essential coverage is and the penalties associated with the law.

Employers with at least 50 full-time employees should pay particular attention to the law, because it will impact them in terms of what they may be required to do. A full-time employee is defined as someone who works at least 30 hours per week under the law.

Jeffrey A. Gum, President of Benefit Management Goup Inc., cautioned employers not to take a lax approach to the requirements under the law and proactively engage with experts.

Bloom said employers need to look at all angles of the law.