Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – March 8, 2019


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Featured This Week


New Reports





Mental health, substance abuse disorder parity laws pushing service use higher

Mental health and substance abuse parity requirements did not substantially increase the out-of-pocket amounts paid by enrollees per outpatient visit, according to the HHS Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). ASPE issued its final report of a ten-year empirical study on the effects of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) (P.L. 110-343), which requires large group employer-sponsored insurers to offer mental health and substance use disorder coverage comparable to medical/surgical services. The study ultimately found that the MHPAEA has had a significant and still growing impact on the utilization of mental health and substances use disorder services without associated increases in reimbursement rates to the providers or increased out-of-pocket costs per service to the enrollees. The impact was strongest in the use of out-of-network substance use disorder services.

        (Read Cheetah) »

IRS updates FAQs on ACA information reporting by employers

The IRS has updated its Questions and Answers on Reporting of Offers of Health Insurance Coverage by Employers (Section 6056) website. The revised FAQs tweak the guidance regarding how applicable large employer (ALE) members comply with the reporting requirements and also address transition relief for calendar years 2015, 2016 and 2017.

        (Read Cheetah) »

State tax pension exemption unlawfully discriminated against similarly situated federal retiree

West Virginia unlawfully discriminated against a retired federal employee by subjecting his pension benefits to state income tax, while exempting the benefits of state retirees, according to the United States Supreme Court. In an opinion that was consistent with established precedent, a unanimous Court stressed that there were no significant differences between the law enforcement responsibilities of the federal employee and the responsibilities of the state law enforcement employees that were sufficient to warrant the discriminatory treatment, no matter the limited scope of the tax preference.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Looming ‘Cadillac’ tax is creating uncertainty for employer plans

In a letter to Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa), the Partnership for Employer-Sponsored Coverage, an advocacy alliance group, expressed strong support for the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 748). Introduced in January 2019, H.R. 748 is a bipartisan bill that would repeal the excise tax on high-cost health plans, otherwise known as the “Cadillac tax.”

        (Read Cheetah) »

Justices will not take up University of Southern California’s ERISA arbitration question

On February 19, 2019, the Supreme Court declined to take up the question whether an agreement to arbitrate “all claims” that an ERISA plan participant “may have” against a plan fiduciary includes a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under Section 502(a)(2) of ERISA. That means the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ conclusion in Munro v. University of Southern California that it does not will stand.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Comments requested on grandfathered group health plans and insurance coverage

The Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (Departments), have requested comments on grandfathered group health plans and grandfathered group health insurance coverage.

        (Read Cheetah) »