Compared to the historical budget crisis states and local governments have lived with over the last few years, I haven’t seen too many things rattle cages like the trepidation we’re experiencing now with health care reform. Of top concern are questions about exactly how costly the legislation will be to implement against a backdrop of rising requirements for citizen services. Government leaders are also trying to get their arms around legislation that is already driving job eliminations and cuts to employee hours on the heels of the staggering job losses that happened during the great recession. This fear and lack of readiness across all industries compelled the federal government to issue a one-year delay of the employer and insurer reporting requirements, making the “shared responsibilities” requirements effective January 1, 2015. The decision to push the date may have alleviated some of the pressure employers were feeling. However, it is still imperative that strategic organizations use this extra time to take a more astute approach to how they will manage the imminent changes associated with the ACA.
So how prepared are governments’ current systems/processes in terms of being able to track employee hours and effectively report compliance to the IRS?
According to a July poll conducted by Governing Institute, 89% of respondents said their current tracking methods could provide visibility into their employee’s part-time or full-time status in accordance with ACA. Seventy-eight percent said their tracking system could effectively report ACA compliance to the IRS. However, a dive into more specific questions regarding the precise methods used to collect ACA data painted a far less rosy picture. Seventy-seven percent of respondents admitted they use, or plan to use, paper timecards or Excel spreadsheets to determine standard measurement periods, and a full 51% of respondents said they use manual time and attendance systems to track employee work hours and leave. Multiplied across entire organizations, manual processes may prove to be a costly and unreliable response to legislation with requirements that are ever-changing and broad in scope.
To download a copy of Governing Institute’s full report entitled, How Will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Impact Your Government Agency? visit http://www.governing.com/forms/gov-paper-step2-default%20/217150581