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Learn about the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution Supplement

An Act Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care was passed and signed into law in August 2017. The law temporarily changed the existing employer medical assistance contribution, created a temporary supplemental contribution and modified the unemployment insurance rate schedule.

The updated contributions were effective for wages paid beginning January 1, 2018 and expired at the end of calendar year 2019.

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The Employer Medical Assistance Contribution

The Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) was created in 2014 after the repeal of the Massachusetts Fair Share Contribution (FSC) requirement. EMAC applies to employers with more than five employees in Massachusetts and applies regardless of whether the employer offers health coverage to its employees. 

For the wages paid in the years 2018 and 2019, the EMAC rate increased to 0.51% up to the annual wage cap of $15,000, which increased the potential maximum cost to $77 per employee per year.  As of January 1, 2020, the EMAC rate returned to 0.34% up to the annual wage cap of $15,000, with a potential maximum cost of $51 per employee per year.

The Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) Supplement

The Employer Medical Assistance Contribution Supplement applied to employers with more than five employees in Massachusetts. The contribution was 5% of annual wages, up to the annual wage cap of $15,000, for a maximum of $750 per affected employee per year.  The contribution did not apply to employees who earned less than $500 in wages per quarter.  The supplemental contribution only applied to non-disabled employees who were enrolled in Mass Health or subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts ConnectorCare program for at least 56 days consecutive days. Employees enrolled in MassHealth’s premium assistance program did not subject their employer to the contribution.

The contribution was 5% of annual wages, up to the annual wage cap of $15,000, for a maximum of $750 per affected employee per year.

Employer Medical Assistance Contribution Supplement Appeals

Employers were notified of their EMAC Supplement assessment through a determination of liability appealable to the Department of Unemployment Assistance.

Employer concerns regarding employee(s) eligibility for subsidized coverage could be addressed by sending an EMAC Employee Information Form to MassHealth for further investigation.

EMAC Supplement Hardship Waiver

On July 26, 2018, St. 2018 c. 154, § 68, was enacted into law, amending the EMAC Supplement statute, to require that the Director of the Department of Unemployment Assistance, in consultation with the Secretary of Administration and Finance develop a hardship waiver process for a employers experiencing financial hardship due to liability for the EMAC Supplement.

For a hardship to be approved an employer was required to fill out an application and include sufficient supporting documentation justifying need. After review, a determination without appeal rights was issued to the employer. A hardship waiver was temporary and related to a specific quarter. Hardship waiver requests were due within the first two weeks of the filing period. Employers who received a waiver were required to timely file and pay any additional contributions or the waiver would be reversed and the total amount (including interest) would be made payable.

Financial hardship eligibility required a showing by the business that:

(a) it had acted in good faith in all its relations with the Department, and certified that it was current on state taxes and assessments, including, where applicable, the nursing facility user fee assessment; and

(b) provided evidence of one or more of the following:

(1) The business was unable to pay the EMAC Supplement because of financial hardship and failure to obtain a hardship waiver was likely to result in a substantial reduction in services, or termination of the employer’s business, or in substantial loss of employment;

(2) The business had paid an Employer Shared Responsibility Payment and been assessed an EMAC Supplement in the same calendar year; or

(3) The business experienced a turnover rate of at least 250% over the four quarters immediately preceding the application.

The Director held the discretion to give special consideration to the following classes of employers:

  1. employers with variable or limited revenue;
  2. employers with fewer than 50 employees;
  3. employers who reported 65% or more of their annual gross wages in two consecutive quarters;
  4. employers whose employees were mostly temporary;
  5. employers that serve the public interest by providing human services or long-term care services and that received a significant share of revenues from governmental programs.

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