The “Cadillac Tax” and Other Employer ACA Penalties

In Town and City magazine, a publication of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, Chris Stevenson analyzes recent developments concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as “Obamacare”) and their effects on municipal and county governments:

We are routinely asked by city, town, and county officials why they still need to worry about offering health insurance coverage and/or IRS health reporting requirements when the ACA (Affordable Care Act) has been overturned.

The question is very understandable due to many highly publicized and recent developments concerning the legislation. For example, just last month, the President signed into law the “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020” (the “Act”), which, among other things, contained a full repeal of the highly controversial so-called “Cadillac Tax” on high-cost health plans. The law was previously scheduled to take effect January 1, 2022 and its repeal is a very important development for municipal employers, many of whom offer generous employee health benefits that could have triggered the tax. Although the Cadillac Tax was not scheduled to take effect for about 2 more years, the tax has been a thorn in the side of many municipal employers at-tempting to negotiate long-term employment agreements. In addition to the repeal of the Cadillac Tax, adding to the confusion surrounding the relevance of the ACA are: (i) the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which repealed the requirement that individuals obtain adequate health coverage, (ii) a directive from President Trump to federal agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of” the ACA (White House Executive Order 13765, January 20, 2017)[, and] (iii) and another seemingly inevitable impending review of the law’s constitutionality by the U.S. Supreme Court’s following a recent Texas District Court ruling. (Texas v. United States, No. 18-167 (N.D. Tex, Dec. 14, 2018). In light of these developments, it would be logical to assume that the ACA is an Obama-era law that is no longer relevant to municipal employers. Although understandable, the assumption could not be further from the truth.