Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – April 10, 2020

 

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Honeywell retirees not entitled to lifetime health care benefits

In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that the general durational clause included in a series of collective bargaining agreements between Honeywell and a union precluded the vesting of lifetime retiree health care benefits. The appeals court’s decision in Fletcher v. Honeywell Int’l, Inc. settled on a “clear rule—a CBA’s general durational clause applies to health care benefits unless it contains clear, affirmative language indicating the contrary.” Accordingly, none of the CBAs in question vested lifetime benefits. Judge Stranch filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

        (Read Cheetah) »

April arguments postponed, ACA religious and conscience exemption question to be rescheduled

The Supreme Court on April 3 announced that oral arguments currently scheduled for the April session (April 20-22 and April 27-29) will be postponed. The move is in keeping with public health guidance in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Court said.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Funded status of corporate pension plans decreases amid COVID-19 pandemic

The funded status of the nation’s largest corporate pension plans fell by eight percentage points during the first quarter of 2020, driven primarily by declines in equity markets, according to recent research from Willis Towers Watson. The study found that the aggregate pension funded status is estimated to be 79 percent as of March 31, 2020, compared with 87 percent at the end of 2019. That’s the lowest funded status plans have experienced since 2012, when the year-end funded status stood at 77 percent, Willis Towers Watson noted.

        (Read Cheetah) »

OCR exercises enforcement discretion for potential violations of use, disclosure of PHI

During the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, the HHS Office of Civil Rights will not impose potential penalties against covered health care providers or their business associates for possible violations of certain provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule related to uses and disclosures of protected health information.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Temporary rule fleshes out FFCRA leave requirements

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has released a temporary rule implementing the newly available public health emergency leave under Title I of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the similarly new emergency paid sick leave available to assist working families facing public health emergencies arising out of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Created under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the leave is established by a time-limited statutory authority set to expire on December 31, 2020.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Updated guidance clarifies who is a ‘health care provider,’ other aspects of FFCRA

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) continues to publish a steady stream of guidance aimed at providing updated information to employees and employers about the protections and relief available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), The law took effect on April 1, 2020.

        (Read Cheetah) »

EBSA mental health parity investigations decreased in 2019

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) investigated and closed 186 health plan investigations in 2019 (down from 285 in 2018), according to the FY 2019 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) Enforcement Fact Sheet. Of the 186 investigations, 71 investigations involved fully-insured plans, 91 investigations involved self-insured plans, and 24 investigations involved plans of both types (the plan or service provider offered both fully-insured and self-insured options).

        (Read Cheetah) »