ACA Forcing Employers to Change Business Practices and Health Care Benefits, SHRM Tells U.S. House Subcommittee

HR professional says administering health care benefits more complex and time consuming since ACA

Apr 14, 2015
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— The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is challenging employers by increasing the costs of providing health care coverage and restricting the ability to offer benefits that best meet the needs of employees, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) told a U.S. House subcommittee today.

Speaking on behalf of the more than 275,000-member SHRM, Sally Roberts, SHRM-SCP, addressed a U.S. House Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions hearing, saying, “Effective health care reform should expand access to affordable coverage, but organizations should not have to change business practices and benefits in order to afford the required changes.”

She noted that HR professionals have responsibility in their organizations for carrying out ACA requirements, making them the most knowledgeable about the impact of health care reform on employers.

Roberts, director of human resources at Morris Communications Company in Augusta, Ga., told representatives that she personally spends twice as much time administering health care benefits for her employer than before the ACA was enacted. “The ACA has made benefits much more complicated than they ever were before,” she said.

Five years after the enactment of ACA, administrative challenges continue because of the complexity of the law, delays in effective dates of certain provisions, and coverage requirements. As a result, some employers have had to absorb the costs of employing insurance brokers to navigate the law and to ease the burden of reporting requirements.

In addition, some employers are changing health care benefits or turning to alternative health care plans such as health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts. Roberts quoted results of SHRM’s recent Health Care Reform Survey, which showed that 21 percent of respondents said their health care benefits decreased this year.

In her remarks, Roberts, state director of the SHRM Georgia State Council, also addressed:

Excise tax: She said some organizations, including hers, are anticipating an excise tax on high-cost benefits that takes effect in 2018. They are taking action, including changing coverage plans, to avoid the tax. SHRM supports H.R. 879, Ax the Tax on Middle Class Americans' Health Plans Act, which would repeal the 40 percent excise tax on high-value employer-sponsored health care benefits.

Wellness programs: Some employers are putting into place incentive-based wellness programs as a way to help contain health care costs. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has challenged employer-provided wellness programs, declaring that the medical screenings in them violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Guidance from the EEOC is needed to clarify the legality of voluntary workplace wellness programs and employers’ use of financial incentives to encourage participation. SHRM supports H.R. 1189, Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act.

Definition of a full-time employee: SHRM supports efforts (Save American Workers Act, H.R. 30) to ensure that the definition of a full-time employee within ACA is consistent with 40-hour-a-week standard set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Currently, the ACA defines a full-time employee as one working 30 hours a week. As a result, some employers have eliminated health care coverage for employees who work less than 30 hours a week, leaving these part-time workers without employer-provided coverage. Other employers have reduced the work hours of part-time employees to less than 30 hours.

Full testimony is available at

MEDIA: For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kate Kennedy at and 703-535-6260 or at 703-535-6072.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

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