Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – February 16, 2018


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Featured This Week


New Reports




February 16, 2018


Survey finds organizations mixed about sharing tax benefits with employees

Organizations are almost evenly split about whether or not they have or may increase pay and benefits for employees in reaction to the new tax reform law, according to a new survey from executive compensation consultancy Pearl Meyer. More companies are still considering changes compared to those that have already taken action….

        (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) »

Benefits costs increased 0.5 percent in fourth quarter 2017

Benefits costs for civilian workers increased 0.5 percent for the three-month period ending December 2017, according to the most recent Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the fourth quarter 2017, benefits costs rose at the same rate as salaries, which also increased 0.5 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 15, 2018


IRS updates FAQs reflecting 1095-B, 1095-C transition relief

The IRS has updated its Question and Answers on Information Reporting by Health Coverage Providers website to reflect the transition relief provided by IRS Notice 2018-06. Specifically, the IRS notes that it has extended the 2018 due date for furnishing 2017 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals, but has not extended the due date for filing the forms with the IRS. Notice 2018-06 extended the due date for furnishing the 2017 forms to individuals from January 31, 2018, until March 2, 2018….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Court declines to let ‘pro-life’ organizations intervene in contraceptive mandate rule challenge

A “Christ-centered institution of higher learning” and a “pro-life, nonsectarian advocacy organization” were not permitted to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the validity of two interim final rules expanding the religious exemption to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive mandate. The court held that the organizations—Dordt College and March for Life Education and Defense Fund—failed to establish that their interests would not be adequately represented by the named defendants….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 14, 2018


Provider to pay $3.5M for leaving the door unlocked on ePHI

Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) agreed to adopt a corrective action plan (CAP) and pay $3.5 million to settle allegations with the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of potential violations of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

HHS’ risk-adjustment calculation, while harmful to some, didn’t violate law

HHS’ use of a statewide average premium methodology to implement the risk-adjustment program—one of three premium-stabilization programs under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)—was neither unreasonable nor arbitrary and capricious, a federal district court in Massachusetts ruled. The regulations did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act, nor did they contravene the statute providing for risk adjustment (42 U.S.C. Sec. 18063) despite the fact that they resulted in a provider paying 71 percent of its gross revenues into the program causing the company to go into receivership….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 13, 2018


FMLA leave noted as basis for low performance rating, sending retaliation claim to jury

The fact that a branch manager’s “considerable time off” in 2014 to take FMLA leave was noted as a factor justifying her lowered performance rating, and her lowered rating in turn was a cited reason for a bank not to consider her for an assistant manager position when her job was eliminated in a restructuring, was enough for a federal district court in Maryland to deny summary judgment on her FMLA retaliation claim. The branch manager’s age discrimination claim also avoided summary judgment, largely on the strength of evidence suggesting the bank’s performance goals were unrealistic and the bank knew it, as well as emails after she was fired suggesting to the court “a poorly justified decision” and “a post hoc effort to sustain that decision.” But her FMLA interference claim failed….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

EBSA highlights results of enforcement and compliance activity in FY 2017

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued the results of its enforcement and compliance activity for employee benefit plans and participants in fiscal year (FY) 2017. EBSA’s oversight authority extends to nearly 681,000 retirement plans, approximately 2.3 million health plans, and a similar number of other welfare benefit plans, such as those providing life or disability insurance. As of October 2, 2015, these plans covered about 143 million workers and their dependents and included assets of over $8.7 trillion….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 12, 2018


AHIP hears what American workers want from their health plans

American workers want to see businesses and health plans working together to improve health and lower costs, according to results of a survey from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) of employed U.S. adults with employer-provided health coverage. The top value-added services that survey takers wanted from their employers are wellness discounts and health or flexible savings accounts. The survey also revealed that, while employer-provided coverage is important for recruiting, it is even more important for retention….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Congress did not include dialysis as ‘essential health benefit’ under ACA in 2013

When Congress prohibited health plans from excluding coverage for certain categories of services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), it did not mandate that plans cover any specific benefit within those categories, a federal district court in Wisconsin has ruled. The only way a particular service must be covered under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 18022(b)(1) is if HHS says it must be covered, and because HHS did not say dialysis was within the scope of “chronic disease management” for 2013, no basis existed for the court saying so….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »