Report: ‘Avalanche’ of Regulations Still to Come Under Obamacare

28 paperwork rules will cost $1.4 billion a year to comply with

February 10, 2014

The Obama administration has yet to finalize 28 additional regulations under Obamacare that could lead to an "avalanche" of regulatory burden on the economy, according to an analysis by the American Action Forum.

A report released Monday by Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at American Action Forum, details the billions in cost and millions in paperwork hours that will result from the pending regulations, including the individual mandate, which has yet to be finalized.

"In total, these 28 paperwork burdens total more than 45.7 million burden hours," the report said. "For perspective, it would take more than 22,800 employees working full-time to complete the new paperwork (assuming 2,000 employee hours annually)."

"Using an average wage rate, these regulations will cost $1.4 billion annually," it said.

The White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has not completed final regulations for the individual mandate. The mandate is set to go into effect this year and carries a penalty—or "individual responsibility payment," according to—at the end of the tax year for those who do not purchase "minimum essential coverage," as dictated by Obamacare.

The American Action Forum report explains that once finalized, the individual mandate will take millions of hours in paperwork to comply.

"The most infamous ACA provision, the individual mandate tax, has been stuck at OIRA since Aug. 23; it would impose more than 7.5 million paperwork burden hours on American taxpayers," the report said.

"Curiously, the administration finalized the rulemaking on August 30, 2013, but the White House still hasn’t approved the collection," the report continued. "Under current law, no individual is required to comply with federal paperwork, ‘unless the collection of information displays a valid control number assigned by [OIRA].’"

"Without approval, taxpayers are not required to comply with the individual mandate forms," it said. "However, don’t ignore the individual mandate tax completely. The IRS considers this defense to tax liability ‘fictional.’"

The report also details that Health and Human Services (HHS) already administers 4,116 federal health care forms.

In a previous analysis based on their latest census of HHS paperwork, the American Action Forum reported that HHS "imposes 645 million hours of paperwork, $35.3 billion in costs, and 4,116 federal forms."

The healthcare exchange added 40 more health care forms, which will cost $558 million and 16.6 million paperwork hours. The amount of HHS forms nearly triples that of the Treasury Department, which administers 1,404 forms.

"With more than 4,100 federal health care forms and growing, it’s clear the ACA is placing incredible strains on the regulatory system," the report said.

Rules that are also pending include a requirement for "Premium Stabilization Programs, and Market Standards" that would add 380,000 in paperwork hours, and an "Enrollee Satisfaction" survey for the health exchange that will take a combined 100,000 hours to complete.

"The possibility of adding more than 45 million burden hours on the public is certainly a daunting reality," the American Action Forum said. "In the context of overall growth at HHS, every new burden adds to an incredibly high figure: 132 million hours."

"That’s how much the Affordable Care Act has already added to the nation’s regulatory burden," they said. "Once OIRA releases these pending regulations, compliance costs and reporting times will soar even higher."