Spencer & Benefits NetNews – June 13, 2014

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June 13, 2014

Most Employers Plan To Continue To Offer Health Benefits Despite ACA Changes

Most employers plan to continue providing health care benefits, even with the changes required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the
Willis Health Care Reform Survey 2014. The survey found that 60 percent of employers rated “moving away from benefit engagement” as extremely unlikely, and another 17 percent of employers rated it as somewhat unlikely. In fact, employers view providing health care benefits as an important part of their compensation offerings and are taking steps to manage costs so they can continue to offer benefits to their employees…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

House Democrats Ask For Transit Tax Parity

A group of six House Democrats have asked leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee to renew the transit tax benefits that expired at the end of 2013. Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), and four other Chicago-area lawmakers asked Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), to raise the commuter transit tax benefit to $250 per month, thereby making it equal to the tax benefit available to commuters who park at work…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 12, 2014

Companies Worldwide Spending More On HR Technology

Companies around the world are planning to increase and redirect their investments in human resource (HR) technology as they embrace talent management solutions, HR portals, software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems and mobile applications, according to an annual survey from Towers Watson. The 2014 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey also found that about one in three companies plan to change their HR structure in an effort to improve both efficiency and quality…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

In Many States, On-Exchange Plans Cheaper Than Off-Exchange Ones

Health insurance exchanges have less expensive plans than major off-exchange companies in 35 out of 39 states, according to a recent study by HealthPocket. For the off-exchange plans, HealthPocket examined United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna, and Assurant…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Virginia Eliminates Conversion Option Requirement For Group Health Plans

Effective July 1, 2014, Virginia has eliminated its requirement that group health insurance policies offer the option of conversion to individual coverage to eligible individuals whose group coverage had terminated. Under the conversion requirements, someone who was no longer eligible to receive coverage under his employer’s health plan could, in certain circumstances, receive an individual accident and sickness policy, without evidence of insurability…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 11, 2014

Employers Increase Wellness Budgets And Use Of Incentives To Participate

Employers are showing an increased commitment to workplace wellness programs, as wellness budgets increase. More employers also are providing increased incentives to participate in the programs. In addition, employees are seeing the benefits of these programs. These are the findings of three recent surveys from Optum, bswift, and Virgin Pulse…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Workers Cite Flexible Schedules, Leaving Early On Fridays As Most Prized Summer Benefits

As temperatures heat up, professionals are looking forward to fun in the sun, according to a recent OfficeTeam survey. Flexible schedules (41 percent) and leaving work early on Fridays (28 percent) are the most coveted summer benefits, according to employees polled. The results mirror those from a similar survey of workers conducted in 2009. The study also shows employers may be warming up to these perks: 75 percent of human resources (HR) managers interviewed said their company offers flexible schedules during the summer, and 63 percent noted that workers are allowed to leave early on Fridays…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 10, 2014

NWLC Amicus Brief Asserts ACA’s Contraceptive Coverage Benefit Promotes Public Health And Gender Equality

Along with 20 other organizations, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has submitted an amicus brief asserting that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit is vitally important in promoting public health and gender equality. The brief was filed before the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in the case
Sharpe Holdings, Inc., et. al. v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The case centers around the issue of whether an organization can deny its employees and employee’s covered family members insurance coverage of birth control…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

EBSA Seeks Nominations For Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans Vacancies

In the June 6 Federal Register, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) published a notice seeking nominations to fill vacancies on the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (the Council), established under ERISA Sec. 512…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

No Plausible FMLA Claims By Employee Fired After Exhausting 12-Weeks Of Leave, Despite Employer’s Promise To Combine Leaves

A county employee who asserted that her employer promised to combine her private and FMLA leave to allow her a longer absence, but discharged her shortly after she completed 12 weeks of leave, failed to state plausible FMLA claims since she was granted all of the FMLA leave to which she was entitled. Summary judgment also was properly granted against her on her claims that the employer breached its duties under the collective bargaining agreement and its promise to combine her leaves since she failed to exhaust the CBA’s administrative remedies, the Eleventh Circuit ruled in an unpublished decision affirming dismissal of her claims. The case is
Dixon v Public Health Trust of Dade County dba Jackson Memorial Hospital (No. 13-13054)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 9, 2014

CMS Clarifies Post-Windsor Definition Of Spouse For Working Aged Policy For Group Health Plans

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an alert providing clarification of its Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) policy for purposes of determining the proper primary payer in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s invalidation of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013 (United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307). In the alert, the CMS explains that the MSP Working Aged provisions previously did not apply on the basis of spousal status to individuals in a same-sex marriage. The CMS now states that, because of the
Windsor holding, it is no longer prohibited from applying the MSP Working Aged provisions to those individuals…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

House Small Business Committee Chairman Seeks SHOP Enrollment Data

How many small businesses have enrolled in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) so far? That’s what House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) wants to know…

(Read Intelliconnect) »