Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – April 21, 2017

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April 21, 2017


Democratic lawmaker condemns Trump threat to withdraw ACA cost-sharing reduction payments

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) sharply condemned the Trump Administration’s signal that it may withhold critical cost-sharing reduction payments that help millions of Americans afford quality health care. The move, if executed, would greatly undermine the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, especially in the individual market. According to media reports, Trump threatened withdrawal of the payments in order to get Democrats to negotiate over repealing the ACA….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues May 2017 AFRs

The May 2017 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The May mid-term 175 percent AFR (Annual) rate, used to calculate interest charged to the funding standard account for underpayments of quarterly contributions under Code Sec. 412(m), is 3.58 percent….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employee fired for parking car during work hours after returning from leave advances some FMLA and ADA claims

A hospital employee with several ailments requiring FMLA leave, who was asked by her supervisor to justify her absences and was fired shortly after taking leave, ostensibly for parking her car during work hours, could proceed with her FMLA retaliation and ADA discrimination claims regarding her termination, but not for her FMLA interference claim and ADA claim regarding promotion, a federal district court in Colorado ruled. Granting in part the employer’s summary judgment motion, the court also found that the employee could proceed with her defamation claim against her supervisor for some alleged false statements….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

April 20, 2017

Text: HHS, final rule, ACA market stabilization

(Read Intelliconnect) »

HHS finalizes rule to improve marketplace stability

To improve the risk pool and otherwise stabilize the individual insurance market, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published a final rule changing several components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace enrollment process and administration. The changes include modification of the dates for open enrollment, an enhanced pre-enrollment verification requirement for special enrollment periods (SEPs), alteration of federal requirements for the application of premiums to past debts, and a revision to the actuarial values (AVs) used to determine metal levels of coverage. The changes are designed to lessen uncertainty and ensure continued issuer participation….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Premiums could rise about 19 percent if subsidies are axed

If insurers stop receiving federal cost-sharing subsidies, the average premium for benchmark silver plans in the health insurance marketplace would need to rise by about 19 percent to compensate for the lost funding. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analyzed data for states using the federal marketplace in 2016 and found that non-Medicaid expansion states would likely experience higher premium increases….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

April 19, 2017

Earned sick and safe leave bill clears Maryland legislature

The Maryland General Assembly on April 5 finalized legislation under which employers would be required to provide employees with one hour of paid or unpaid earned sick and safe leave, depending on the number of employees working at the business, for every 30 hours worked. Under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, H.B. 1, employers with 15 or more employees would be required to provide earned sick and safe leave paid at the same rate of pay the employee normally earns. Employers with 14 or fewer employees would be required to provide at least unpaid earned sick and safe leave. Employers would not be required to pay tipped employees more than the minimum wage for earned leave, however….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

AMA breaks down 2015 health care costs

Health spending in 2015 grew 5.8 percent, its fastest rate since 2007, totaling $3.2 trillion. Although the 2015 health spending growth rate was the highest since 2007, it is still low from a historical perspective, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Fiduciary breach suit alleging payment of excess fees to recordkeeper survives motion to dismiss

A motion to dismiss a fiduciary breach suit brought by 401(k) plan participants, alleging the payment of excess recordkeeping fees and revenue sharing to a recordkeeper, has been rejected by a federal magistrate in Colorado. While conceding that many of the allegations were conclusory, the magistrate found that the participants’ complaint satisfied the applicable pleading requirements and provided the defendants with notice of the charges being alleged….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

April 18, 2017


Employer mandate provisions implemented but need improvement, TIGTA finds

A newly released Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report found that, although the IRS has implemented processes and procedures in an effort to ensure that employers subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) could comply with information reporting requirements. However, some of the processes did not function as intended, which resulted in the IRS not having accurate and complete data for use in its compliance strategy to identify noncompliant employers potentially subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment. TIGTA also found that, due to system errors, the Service was unable to process paper information returns timely and accurately….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers and employees see value in health coaching

Employees want more personalization from their employers’ wellness programs—75 percent of employees say that a personal touch is important in guiding their health, according to recent research from HealthFitness. The research also shows that providing opportunities for employees to connect with live experts can contribute significantly to attracting and keeping participants active in a company’s wellness program, driving significant health results and helping companies realize medical and pharmacy cost savings….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

April 17, 2017


Ex-husband who declined COBRA coverage thinking he was still married is denied reinstatement

A temporary restraining order seeking the reinstatement of health coverage was denied to the ex-husband of the participant in the health plan. The ex-husband was only entitled to COBRA coverage, which he declined, a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, explained….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Federal interest rates announced for pensions

The following interest rates have been announced for use in the operation and administration of qualified pension plans….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues May 2017 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating April through June 2017, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.15 percent, up from the 1.87 percent rate that applied in January through March 2016. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in May 2017 is 1.00 percent, the same rate that applied in April 2017….

(Read Intelliconnect) »