With much of the Affordable Care Act implemented or in the process of being implemented, details of the health law were the focus at the 11th annual Health Law Institute.
The institute, which was held Friday in Wichita, is sponsored by Foulston Siefkin law firm for health care providers across the state.
Scott Palecki, partner at Foulston Siefkin and team leader of its health care practice group, said that with the changes in health care, providers need to keep three key issues in mind: declining reimbursements, lowering costs and improving quality.
He said the biggest trend over the last several years has been greater regulation and greater enforcement in the health care industry.
“It really means a couple of things. It increases their cost of doing business in the health care sector and it also creates a more uncertain environment,” Palecki said. “Health care, of course, is in my opinion the most regulated industry in our country.”
While people can try to guess what will happen as more components of the Affordable Care Act are implemented, the big question is whether Congress will grant funding for it, Palecki said.
“The recent government shutdown is going to have an impact on how Congress reacts to the funding of the provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act,” Palecki said.
Some portions of the health care law have been delayed. One such provision is the “play or pay” employer mandate penalty, which federal officials said in July would be delayed until Jan. 1, 2015.
“Play or pay” applies to employers with 50 or more employees who are required to either offer health insurance coverage or pay a penalty.
Under the law, a full-time employee is defined as working at least 30 hours per week.
“Even though they delayed it, you may still need to collect information on the number of hours employees work in 2013 and 2014, so you know if it’s a full-time employee that you are required to offer coverage to,” said Jason Lacey, an attorney with Foulston Siefkin.
Regardless of whether an employer offers health insurance, Lacey said the company is required to notify employees about the new online health insurance marketplace. The deadline was Oct. 1, but if it was missed, he encouraged people to go ahead and notify employees in case of an IRS audit.