Update and Critical Deadline for the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) Hardship Waiver

I was proud to have led the Senate’s mandate of a hardship waiver in the FY19 State Budget for businesses and non-profits that have struggled to meet the expansion of the EMAC assessment by the Baker/Polito Administration. The amendment I filed required the Department of Unemployment Assistance to establish, for certain Massachusetts employers, including seasonal employers, small businesses, non-profits, and employers providing services that serve the public interest, an exemption/hardship waiver from the new Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) health contribution assessment established in 2017. The amendment was adopted and prevailed in the final FY19 budget.

What is the EMAC Assessment? It’s a tax/fee placed on businesses or non-profits who offer their employees health insurance, but who have an employee (or multiple) that decline and instead opt for a Mass Health or other subsidized state health insurance plan. Many businesses paying the EMAC assessment can afford to pay, especially larger corporations. But small businesses and non-profits (such as Cape Abilities, a wonderful local non-profit) cannot afford this expense.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance late last month put out the regulations and a process for business owners and non-profits to apply for a hardship waiver. Time is tight to apply, with an application deadline of October 12th for this quarter. You can find the application and other materials online here.

My office has identified some items that are missing or too burdensome in the current version of the regulations, and we’re working with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce to advocate for changes to the regulations and criteria for 2019. But for now, I encourage business owners and non-profit leaders who have been impacted by the EMAC assessment to apply before October 12th. And if you know of a business or non-profit that has been impacted by the EMAC assessment, please share this information with them

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