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ACA: Worried about this year’s reporting cycle

ACA: Worried

Two weeks ago, just before I got sick, I was working on the ACA reporting and was on the third attempt to use the new data. I believe my last post on the ACA was about how I needed to finish up the review of data, and the hope was that I would have about 80% done by the spreadsheet. Last year, my spreadsheet got 75% of the way through before we had to do the manual production of the reporting data. This year I was hoping to do better - hit at least the 80% mark. On the Sunday before I got really sick, I found I had reached the 90% mark. I had improved the spreadsheet (and the data had improved also) so that I could get at least 90% automated.

So now, the Human Resources VP is looking at the remaining questions I had, and cross my fingers, I'm hoping she will get it to me by Monday.

In the meantime, I've been working on the electronic submission of the data. While the form and most of the electronic submission has not changed, there is one change that is making a mess of my process: no empty tags are allowed. Due to the fact that I can't just directly convert the excel data into XML in the form that meets the government's rules, I had to do some tricks in order to build up the XML file. Unfortunately, those tricks created a lot of empty tags and this year, I have to figure out how to get rid of them.

This past week I've been working on how to get rid of the empty tags and I have most of this figured out with the exception of the tags related to the lowest monthly cost for self-section. I'm pretty stuck on this problem. I might have to break up the XML conversion into 2 stages which means extra steps. But if I have to do that, then I have to do that.

There other area of concern is the new namespaces. I'm going to have to test my files before I actually submit the reporting to the government. Since I'm not an expert on XML, I need to test my understanding of namespaces in the testing environment. The other thing I need to test is the Manifest header. Last year I had such a problem with the Manifest Header and it was just by luck that I happened upon a site where somebody had uploaded their version of the Manifest header which successfully passed the testing system.

So I have 3 concerns: 1) getting rid of the last set of empty tags; 2) using the right namespaces; and 3) having a good and valid Manifest header. Once I get past those concerns, I will update my website information on how to send the ACA electronically. Most of it will remain the same with the exception on the conversion of Excel into XML.

Thank goodness I did this last year so I have most of this figured out.

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