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NRF warns of 'regulatory train wreck' with healthcare regulations


WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation told a congressional panel Wednesday that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury have used too much informal guidance and not enough formal rule-making in developing regulations to implement the new healthcare reform law, complicating retailers' and other employers' ability to plan for what will be required in 2014. NRF is concerned that the situation is the latest example of regulatory uncertainty that is hampering businesses' attempts to expand and create jobs.

"Our nation cannot afford for the ACA to stumble out of the starting gate," NRF VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein said. "A cascade of last-minute regulations will create confusion and thus could encourage more employers to back out of coverage. We are trying to help prevent what threatens to become a regulatory train wreck."

Trautwein was scheduled to testify at a hearing Wednesday afternoon by the House Ways and Means Committee's Health Subcommittee on implementation of healthcare exchanges and other provisions that will be required under the Affordable Care Act beginning in January 2014.

Trautwein said retailers typically plan health care benefits for their employees six to nine months in advance, meaning that details of the 2014 requirements need to be known no later than the end of first quarter 2013. Retailers would like to have regulations in place this year, and are "greatly concerned" that "fast-approaching deadlines for key issues" might not be met.

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