Administration Delays ACA Provision Barring Discriminatory Policies For Highly Compensated

The New York Times (1/19, Pear, Subscription Publication) reported that "the Obama Administration is delaying enforcement of another provision" of the Affordable Care Act, "one that prohibits employers from providing better health benefits to top executives than to other employees." The delay was attributed to the Internal Revenue Service's struggle with writing regulations to cover the provision. The difficulties include defining who is highly compensated, what health benefits are worth, and what is discriminatory. The provision will wait until the IRS issues regulations "or other guidance." The Times calls the delay "another in a series of deadline extensions, transition rules, policy shifts and other steps by the Obama Administration" and one that "is sure to be invoked by both Democrats and Republicans running for office this fall."

The Daily Caller (1/20, Hurtubise) noted that the ACA "originally required the IRS to enforce the health benefit 'discrimination' ban just six months after the law was passed in March 2010," but it was "announced in 2010 that officials needed more time to write the rules." IRS Denies New Delay. However, Fox Business (1/21, Rogers) reports that the IRS "is denying claims" of this delay. IRS spokesperson Michelle Eldridge said in an email to Fox Business, "The IRS has not announced any new or additional information on this issue. The New York Times story refers to IRS Notice 2011-1, which was released to the press on December 22, 2010. That Notice stated that the sanctions under Public Health Service Act Section 2716 will not apply until after generally applicable guidance is issued, because the statute requires regulatory detail in order to operate properly. Work on that guidance continues, taking into consideration comments received from the public. Any suggestion that there is a new delay is misleading."

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