Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – May 12, 2017


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Featured This Week


New Reports




May 12, 2017


Employers expect to keep popular ACA provisions, despite potential for law’s repeal

As the Senate will now take up the task of perhaps repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers expect to retain some of the law’s popular provisions, even if they are not required to by a new law, according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson. Six hundred and sixty-six employers responded, representing 9.3 million employees. While approximately one-third of employers are not sure of future plans, more employers plan to keep popular provisions than make changes….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS’s TE/GE provides guidance on calculating available plan loan amounts for participants

The IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) has issued internal guidance for the Employee Plans (EP) employees who are reviewing plan loans to participants. Specifically, the memorandum provides directions for the EP Examinations employees to determine the amount available for a plan loan to a participant under Code Sec. 72(p)(2) where the participant has received multiple loans during the past year from a qualified plan. The guidance was effective April 20, 2017, and currently applicable to open examinations….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Cat’s paw theory applies to FMLA retaliation claims; employee’s FMLA and ADA reprisal claims revived

After concluding that the cat’s paw theory of liability applies to claims of FMLA retaliation, a divided Sixth Circuit found the court below erred in granting summary judgment against the FMLA and ADA retaliation claims of an employee demoted and then fired after taking time off for mental health issues. Fact issues existed as to whether her supervisors influenced an intermediate decisionmaker’s demotion decision and as to whether the supervisors influenced the intermediate decisionmaker, who then influenced the company owner’s decision to fire the employee. Summary judgment was affirmed, however, against her FMLA interference and state-law intentional infliction of emotion distress claims. Judge Sutton concurred in part and dissented in part….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 11, 2017

ACA’s contraception mandate accommodation rendered lower court injunction moot

Entering an injunction directed to a version of the regulatory framework regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that had been superseded was error, the Seventh Circuit has ruled. The district court should not have entered any injunctive relief at all once the regulatory accommodation regarding the ACA’s contraception mandate was revised to include for-profit employers. At that point, the for-profit employer’s case became moot….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

DOJ: additional abeyance needed, early Administration and ‘complex’ remand order cited

The Department of Justice has requested a stay and abeyance, with the next status reports requested to be due on June 23, 2017, in a case brought to seek relief from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraception coverage mandate. The cases were brought by a number of religious organizations against the requirement for employers to provide birth control to their employees and remanded under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Zubik v. Burwell. The DOJ acknowledges in its filing that the plaintiffs represented by the Beckett Fund requested that the abeyance be ended. A similar request was made before the Tenth Circuit and was denied, per the DOJ….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Trial court method for measuring damages for fiduciary breach rejected as being too limited

A federal trial court properly determined that plan fiduciaries breached their ERISA duties in changing plan investment options, but improperly interpreted prior appellate court guidance in restricting the means by which it measured the damages sustained by the plan participants and beneficiaries, according to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. ABB sponsored two defined contribution plans. Initially, the plans included an actively managed mutual fund offered by Vanguard. The fund generally performed well, exceeding applicable benchmarks over its history….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 10, 2017

Text: IRS, Rev. Proc. 2017-36, applicable percentage table

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS updates premium tax credit table, required contribution percentage

The IRS has updated the applicable percentage table used to calculate an individual’s premium tax credit and required contribution percentage for plan years beginning after 2017. The percentage is used to determine whether an individual is eligible for affordable employer-sponsored minimum essential coverage; the percentage is used to determine whether an individual is eligible for an exemption from the individual shared responsibility payment because of a lack of affordable minimum essential coverage….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments could trigger tax credit increases

What would happen if the cost-sharing reduction payments established under section 1402 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) to reduce out-of-pocket costs for ACA marketplace enrollees with lower incomes were eliminated? “Ceasing payments for the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction program could save $10 billion, but [would] cost an additional $12.3 billion in premium tax credits,” in 2018 if insurers choose to continue offering plans in ACA marketplaces, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis of the financial effect of ending cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 9, 2017


Text: IRS, Rev. Proc. 2017-37, HSA 2018 inflation adjusted items

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

2018 inflation adjustments for health savings accounts released

The IRS has released the 2018 inflation-adjusted amounts for health savings accounts under Code Sec. 223….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers view HSAs as part of their retirement benefits strategy

Just over 75 percent of employers view health savings accounts (HSAs) as part of their retirement benefits strategy, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s (PSCA) HSA Snapshot survey. The survey found that approximately 80 percent of employees are eligible to participate in an HSA, when offered by the employer and the average account balance was $3,161….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 8, 2017


New GOP healthcare bill passes House

Six weeks after pulling the American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628) from consideration, the House of Representatives passed the bill on May 4, 2017, by a vote of 217 to 213. The revised bill, which alters certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148), includes three amendments, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet scored. The first amendment is from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R- NJ), allowing states to waive essential health benefits (EHBs), age rating, and community rating. The second, from Reps. Gary Palmer (R- Ala) and David Schweikert (R- Ariz), would create a risk-sharing program for states. The third amendment, credited with bringing the bill back to the floor after its initial withdrawal, came from Reps. Fred Upton (R- Mich) and Billy Long (R- Mo), increasing the Patient and State Stability Fund by $8 billion over five years for states that use the MacArthur amendment’s waivers….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits costs increased 0.7 percent in first quarter 2017

Benefits costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent for the three-month period ending March 2017, according to the most recent Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the first quarter 2017, benefits costs rose slightly less than salaries, which increased 0.8 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

GM didn’t violate FMLA by suspending electrician who failed to follow union-negotiated policy for calling in absences

An employee who was approved for intermittent FMLA leave, and subsequently placed on several weeks of unpaid suspensions for failing to follow company policy for timely reporting unplanned absences, failed to revive his claims of FMLA interference since the FMLA and accompanying regulations require employees to follow their employer’s “usual and customary” procedures for requesting FMLA leave absent “unusual circumstances,” which were not present here. The Fifth Circuit also affirmed summary judgment against the employee on his claims of FMLA retaliation and disability bias….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »