Oklahoma Withdraws HR Policy-Opposed Request to Tax Employer Plans; Bipartisan ACA Reporting Bill Introduced

October 06, 2017

Oklahoma withdrew its Affordable Care Act waiver application that would have enabled the state to tax self-insured employer health care benefits to fund a reinsurance program after HR Policy and other business groups objected and the Department of Health and Human Services failed to provide timely approval of the waiver.  In a letter to HHS, HR Policy objected to the state's waiver application because it would have imposed a tax on ERISA-covered health care plans and was thereby preempted by ERISA.  The waiver application would also have negatively impacted the use of stop-loss coverage.  The letter urged HHS to only approve Oklahoma's Section 1332 waiver application after the state "removes ERISA plans from being subject to reinsurance assessments and reporting requirements."  Separately, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) have introduced legislation to significantly reduce employer reporting requirements under the ACA.  The ACA currently requires employers to report detailed information about health insurance coverage to the IRS and employees at the end of each tax year.  The Commonsense Reporting Act of 2017 (S. 1908) would direct the Treasury Department to implement an alternative voluntary reporting system that would cut down on unnecessary paperwork and administrative costs for businesses while ensuring the Treasury Department has the necessary data to determine the availability of affordable coverage.  A companion bill (H.R. 3919) has also been introduced in the House by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN).