NEWS RELEASE

March 19, 2012
PR-12/5
For additional information:
Jason Hammersla
202-289-6700
202-422-4652 (cell)

DOL’s ‘good faith’ compliance standard for SBC rules fails to relieve burden on employer plan sponsors

WASHINGTON, DC — We are very disappointed that guidance issued today by the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury has reiterated that employers will have as little as six months to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) regulations that the federal government itself was nearly a year overdue in finalizing” Council President James A. Klein said today following DOL’s release of a new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the SBC requirements. “We had urged the agencies to either delay the effective date by twelve months or provide a transition rule to allow employers to meet these new obligations as smoothly as possible,” Klein said.

“Disclosure and communications regarding health benefits are an important component of benefit plan administration and design, and we appreciate the daunting task the agencies face in implementing the new law. But while the federal government gave itself the extra time needed to craft the rules, employers and their administrative partners must now work double-time to perform the more difficult job of implementing these standards in the next six months.”

The FAQs issued by the three agencies state that “the Departments will not impose penalties on plans and issuers that are working diligently and in good faith to provide the required SBC content in an appearance that is consistent with the final regulations.”

“The guidance issued today restates that these new disclosures must be provided by most employers starting September 23, 2012, but the Council will continue to pursue every opportunity to obtain needed flexibility and adequate time for employers to comply,” Klein concluded.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Council staff, please contact Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications, at jhammersla@abcstaff.org or by phone at 202-289-6700 (office) or (202) 422-4652 (cell).

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The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.