Spencer Benefits Reports NetNews – November 13, 2015

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November 13, 2015


ERIC criticizes new HHS proposed nondiscrimination regulations

A proposed nondiscrimination regulation exceeds its statutory mandate, and would impose costly new requirements on employer group health plans that do not receive any form of federal financial assistance, the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) has told the HHS. ERIC, which represents large employers that sponsor employee benefit plans, submitted these comments in a letter dated November 9, contending that portions of the proposed regulations are inconsistent with, and contradictory to, existing statutory and regulatory requirements that group health plans must already satisfy….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC updates premium rates for 2016; maximum monthly benefit remains the same

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has updated the premium rates for 2016. In addition, the PBGC has announced that the maximum monthly insurance benefit for participants in underfunded pension plans terminating in 2016 remains at $5,011.36 per month or $60,136 per year for those who retire at age 65….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

November 12, 2015


No Sec. 79 imputed income for optional life insurance coverage: IRS

The IRS has publicly released a private letter ruling concluding that a life insurance company was permitted to treat optional insurance coverage as a separate policy from its group term life insurance coverage such that the optional insurance was not treated as “carried directly or indirectly” by the company. Therefore, no income would be imputed under IRC Sec. 79….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Long-term disability program for participating law enforcement personnel was not employee welfare benefit plan

A long-term disability program sponsored by a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, which was composed of participants in state law enforcement associations and eligible individuals who did not belong to a participating association, was not an employee welfare benefit plan under ERISA Sec. 3(1) because the sponsoring corporation was not an “employee organization” under ERISA Sec. 3(4), according to an Employee Benefits Security Administration advisory opinion….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

November 11, 2015


Q&A clarifies proposed GINA wellness program rule, calculation of 30-percent incentive cap

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) proposed regulatory amendments clarifying the boundaries for employer-sponsored wellness program compliance with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) were formally published in the Federal Register on October 30, 2015. In conjunction with the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the EEOC has posted on its website a list of questions and answers about the proposed rule and a fact sheet on how it would affect small businesses. The Q&A is particularly helpful because it provides an example of how to calculate the 30-percent cap on incentives that employers may offer to employees and their spouses to participate in a wellness program that collects information about current or past health status….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


While majority of workers currently satisfied with benefits, fears of future affordability rise

The majority of U.S. workers (66 percent) are satisfied with their current health care coverage, but are concerned about the future affordability of those benefits, according to a recent survey from Mercer. The
Inside Employees’ Minds survey found that only 41 percent of workers see health care as affordable five years from now compared with 62 percent today. And more workers say they are concerned about the cost of health care in retirement—32 percent today are concerned about this, up from 24 percent five years ago….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Illinois Navigators will receive $5 million in federal funding

Ten organizations will receive nearly $5 million in federal funding to participate in the third year of the Get Covered Illinois’ (GCI) In-Person Counselor program, the state-run outreach and education arm of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) in Illinois. The IPC program establishes a network of Navigators across the state whose job is to educate consumers about the financial assistance available under the ACA for those who qualify based on their income and help them navigate through their health care options. The ten organizations will be available to help consumers throughout the state through the exchange’s open enrollment period, which runs from November 1, 2015, to January 31, 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

November 10, 2015


Supreme Court will hear 7 challenges to contraceptive mandate

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the challenges of seven religious non-profits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive mandate. The challenges seek a decision from the Supreme Court overturning the ACA requirement that non-profit groups take action to opt out of the mandate, allowing them to benefit from the blanket exclusion granted to churches and other religious institutions….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

5.5M women ages 18-44 obtained health care coverage under ACA

The uninsured rate among women 18 to 44 dropped 6.3 percent between summer 2013 and winter 2014-2015. The Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey revealed that 5.5 million women in this demographic gained coverage during this period. Affordability of care improved especially for women in states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


November 9, 2015


IRS gives employers a tip on ACA shared responsibility

The IRS released a Tax Tip to help employers understand the employer shared responsibility provisions that impact certain employers under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). The IRS advice is intended to help applicable large employers (ALEs)—those with an average of at least 50 full-time employees during the preceding calendar year—to understand the scope of the coverage they are required to provide employees under the ACA….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Senate committee asks how it can HELP improve mental health care

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee recently heard testimony from three federal officials as they considered pending and potential bills to increase the public understanding of mental illness and expand access to mental health services. Kana Enomoto, Acting Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Dr. Thomas Insel, outgoing Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and James Macrae, Acting Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), each described the roles of their agencies in the study of mental health issues and promotion of access to mental health services….

(Read Intelliconnect) »