Spencer Benefits Reports NetNews – December 11, 2015

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December 11, 2015


IRS gives ALEs eight information reporting, offer of health coverage tips

The IRS has published eight things it says applicable large employers (ALEs) should know about upcoming information returns that must be filed at the beginning of 2016. ALEs are generally those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees in the preceding calendar year….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC deficit continues to grow

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has released its Annual Report, showing that the PBGC’s deficit grew in Fiscal Year 2015 due to increases in both the multiemployer and single-employer insurance programs totaling more than $76 billion. Both programs were affected by changes in interest factors that increased the value of the programs’ liabilities. The Agency guarantees payment of the basic pension benefits earned by more than 40 million American workers and retirees in nearly 24,000 plans….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Construction industry successor employer can be subject to withdrawal liability

A successor employer in the construction industry can be subject to withdrawal liability so long as it took over the business with notice of the liability, according to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Moreover, in reversing and remanding a district court’s decision in favor of the successor employer, the appeals court held that the most important factor in assessing whether an employer was a successor for purposes of imposing withdrawal liability was whether there was substantial continuity in the business operations between the predecessor and the successor, as determined in large part by whether the new employer had taken over the economically critical bulk of the prior employer’s customer base….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

December 10, 2015


GINA regs comment period extended to January 28

Pushing past the original December 29, 2015, comment deadline, the EEOC is extending the comment period on its proposed GINA regulations to January 28, 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

EBSA issues guidance on state savings programs for private-sector workers

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued proposed regulations and an interpretive bulletin providing guidance on issues surrounding state auto-IRA programs and state savings programs that sponsor or facilitate ERISA-covered retirement plans. In both cases, EBSA’s intent is to promote retirement savings by employees by removing states’ uncertainty about ERISA preemption of their efforts….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Health coverage affordability: perception becomes reality

Individuals may have health insurance, but whether they feel like they can afford that insurance is another question entirely. Although more Americans have health coverage now than they have in decades, research by the Commonwealth Fund found that 30 percent of people with moderate incomes and 53 percent with low incomes identify themselves as having unaffordable health care costs. These individuals with exposure to high health care costs relative to their incomes also are the most likely to skip needed health care and not fill prescriptions….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

December 9, 2015


Employer’s choice to ignore ERISA suit was ‘deliberate,’ so no relief from default judgment

Plaintiffs in this ERISA suit seeking delinquent payments to a multi-employer health and welfare fund may not have been “chivalrous” in seeking a default judgment while settlement negotiations were ongoing, but the Seventh Circuit refused to grant relief to an employer that could have protected itself “easily” by seeking relief under Rule 55(c), but instead chose to “march to the beat of its own drum” and ignore the suit until it was too late….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Senator keeping an eye on HHS’ readiness for waiver policy

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore), author of the state innovation waivers (SIW) policy found in section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), is still very protective of the program. On November 19, 2015, Wyden sent a letter to HHS Secretary Burwell inquiring about HHS’ readiness for state waivers in 2017. In the letter, he outlined the requirements for meeting waiver criteria under the ACA and asked about the steps HHS has taken to implement the provision properly….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Insurance holding company to pay $3.5M to settle HIPAA claims

An insurance holding company that notified the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) about multiple improper disclosures of beneficiaries’ protected health information (PHI) will pay $3.5 million to settle its potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules. As part of the agreement, the company will also adopt a three-year corrective action plan (CAP) to address any deficiencies in its HIPAA compliance program….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

December 8, 2015


Tax tip reminds employers about 2015 transition relief

The IRS has released a Tax Tip to help certain employers understand the different types of 2015 transition relief under the employer shared responsibility provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The IRS advice is intended for applicable large employers (ALE), who may choose to offer affordable minimum essential coverage that provides minimum value to full-time employees – and minimum essential coverage to full-time employees’ dependents – or, alternatively, to potentially owe an employer shared responsibility payment to the IRS….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

DOL releases advance copies of 2015 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation have released advance informational copies of the 2015 Form 5500 annual return/report and related instructions. Informational copies of the forms, schedules and instructions are available online at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/5500main.html….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Colorado to vote on universal health care in 2016

ColoradoCare’s Initiative 20 has been approved for the 2016 ballot. The Initiative received more than 100,000 signatures to be added to the ballot, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. If voters approve the initiative, ColoradoCare would be the first statewide universal health care system in the country….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


December 7, 2015


Employers seek to control cost growth to avoid excise tax

Twenty-three percent of large employers area at risk of hitting the excise tax cost threshold in 2018 based on current premiums, according to a Mercer survey finding that the per-employee cost of health benefits rose 3.8 percent in 2015. The 40 percent excise tax under Section 9001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148), also called the Cadillac tax, has given employers an incentive to help control the growth of health benefit costs for the third year in a row….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers struggle to engage employees in wellness programs

The number of employers offering wellness programs continues to increase, but employers report that it is difficult to change the lifestyle behaviors of their employees, according to recent research from Towers Watson. The study also found that 88 percent of organizations that offer employees financial incentives for participation in these programs will reassess their incentives over the next three years….

(Read Intelliconnect) »