Spencer and Benefits NetNews – March 13, 2015


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Featured This Week


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March 13, 2015


CBO Projects ACA Will Set Fed Back $1.2 Trillion Over Next Decade

If the laws currently governing federal spending remain in place, the federal budget deficit will total $486 billion in 2015, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report which made projections for the federal budget over the next decade. The CBO estimates that the deficit will decline in 2016 to $455 billion and hold steady through 2018. However, by 2025, the deficit is expected to grow to $1 trillion. Notably, the deficit for 2018 outpaces CBO’s earlier projections by $18 billion, in large part because the CBO increased its estimates for the outlays on Medicare and Medicaid. In contrast, the CBO’s projected deficits for the 2016 to 2025 period are $431 billion less than previously estimated due to a “downward revision to projected growth in private health insurance spending,” which the CBO attributes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The CBO projects that the major provisions of the ACA will result in costs to the federal government of $1,207 billion over the 2016 to 2025 period….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Exchange Enrollment Climbs To 11.7M

Open enrollment on the Health Insurance Exchanges resulted in 11.7 million enrollees through February 22 in most states and through February 21 in others, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That’s an increase in 300,000 from the figures HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell previously reported through February 15. At a White House event on March 9, 2015, Burwell emphasized, “These numbers represent real people whose lives have changed for the better…..

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

White Houses Directs EBSA To Propose Rule Imposing Fiduciary Standard On Brokers

President Barack Obama has directed the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) to advance a proposal that would raise investment advice standards for brokers who handle retirement accounts. According to a Fact Sheet issued by the White House, EBSA would propose a rule requiring more brokers to abide by a fiduciary standard, putting the best interests of their clients ahead of their own when they provide retirement savings advice….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

March 12, 2015


HHS Affirms “Skinny Plans” Do Not Meet Minimum Value Requirement Under ACA

Employer-sponsored health plans must provide substantial coverage of both inpatient hospital services and physician services to meet the minimum value (MV) requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), HHS has clarified in a final rule. The final rule adopts the IRS’s proposed rule from November 2014 (Notice 2014-69)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Notre Dame Contraception Battle Revived

More than one year after the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied the University of Notre Dame’s plea for relief from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) contraception mandate exemption requirements, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the appellate court to revisit the issue. The High Court granted Notre Dame’s petition for writ of certiorari, vacating the Seventh Circuit’s order and remanding the case in light of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (Hobby Lobby) and Wheaton College v. Burwell (Wheaton College). Notre Dame’s contentions focused on the allegedly substantial burdens imposed on it by the requirement that it complete EBSA Form 700….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


March 11, 2015


Experts Review Health Care Reporting On Form 1095-C

The reporting requirements for applicable large employers and health insurance providers under Code Secs. 6055 and 6056 are effective starting in 2015, reminded practitioners and Stephen Tackney, deputy division counsel/associate chief counsel, IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division, Office of Chief Counsel, during a March 5 American Bar Association webcast. The webcast presenters discussed many of the basics of how to report coverage for employees in Parts II and III of Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Insurance….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Bill Would Eliminate ‘Confusion’ Over Wellness Programs Caused By EEOC Scrutiny

Congressional Republicans have introduced legislation in both the House and Senate that would “eliminate the confusion caused by the EEOC for employers who provide financial rewards to employees for healthy lifestyle choices.” Introduced on March 2 by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in the Senate and Jon Kline (R-Minn.) in the House, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (S. 620/H.R. 1189) would reaffirm the right of employers under the law to offer wellness programs that are tied to a financial reward. Specifically, the legislation would “clarify rules relating to nondiscriminatory employer wellness programs as such programs relate to premium discounts, rebates, or modifications to otherwise applicable cost sharing under group health plans….”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


March 10, 2015


Ways And Means Advances Bill To Make Permanent Tax-Free Charitable Distributions From IRAs

The House Ways and Means Committee has voted to approve a measure (H.R. 637) that would make permanent the rule allowing certain tax-free distributions from IRAs for charitable purposes. While partisan divisions over the role of tax reform highlighted the February 4, 2015, Ways and Means markup session, in the end the committee voted to make permanent seven tax-extender provisions that are typically renewed on an annual basis, including the IRA provision….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings From The 2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey

Enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) has raised the question: Will employers continue to offer health coverage in the future, and if so, to which workers? As noted in previous work, health insurance exchanges combined with insurance-market reforms (such as guaranteed issue, modified community rate, and subsidies) give workers expanded options for health coverage beyond employment-based coverage….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


March 9, 2015


Employers Expect To Make Health Care Program Changes To Remain Competitive

The majority of U.S. employers (84 percent) are expecting to make changes to their full-time employee health benefit programs over the next three years, despite cost increases remaining at historically low levels, according to new research from Towers Watson. In addition to aggressive cost management, employers are evaluating the implications of the changing provider landscape, embracing new ways to deliver care through innovative network arrangements, focusing on increasing employee engagement and exploring new options for delivering benefits. This includes assessment of active employee private exchanges and a rapid migration of Medicare retirees to private exchanges….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Majority Of Employers Favor ACA Revisions, But Not For Federal Subsidies

A recent survey of nearly 600 employers by Mercer has revealed that, while only 27% favor the repeal of federal premium subsidies, (an issue currently before the U.S. Supreme Court), a full 80% favor repealing the ACA’s excise tax on high-cost or “Cadillac” plans. Not surprisingly, a majority (64%) also favored repealing the employer mandate. Only 16% were against the repeal of the employer mandate. The survey was conducted in January 2015, and was the eighth in a series of health care reform surveys…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »