Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – May 19, 2017


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Featured This Week


New Reports




May 19, 2017


CMS mulls more flexible processes for small businesses using HealthCare.gov for SHOP

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated that it intends to propose regulations that would have small employers that use the federal HealthCare.gov enroll directly with insurance companies offering Small Business Home Options Program (SHOP) plans. Small employers could also register using the assistance of an agent or broker that is registered with the Federally-facilitated SHOP. These employers would still have to obtain a determination of eligibility from HealthCare.gov, however….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Just over a third of small business employees satisfied with benefits

When asked what they think of their small employer health benefits packages, only 33 percent of workers reported feeling satisfied, while 20 percent were disappointed, according to the 2017 Aflac Small Business Happiness Report. The survey found 13 percent were happy with their benefits, 6 percent felt ignored, and 3 percent reported feeling angry about their current benefits….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 18, 2017

Reporting requirements here to stay under AHCA, although perhaps will become simpler, expert says

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628) passed the House by a narrow margin on May 4, 2017. While the bill would not repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate, it would reduce the employer shared responsibility penalties to zero, retroactively effective to 2016. During a recent Aon webinar, A Closer Look: Health Care Reform in the First 100 Days of the Trump Administration, Kerri Willis, senior vice president of Aon Health & Benefits Legal Consulting Group, noted that while the employer mandate penalties would be eliminated, “the AHCA does not repeal the employer reporting requirements….”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers continue to address health care cost increases

To reduce health care costs, employers are primarily focused on offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) (69 percent), targeting wellness programs (58 percent), and increasing employee cost-sharing (49 percent), according to recent research from the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH). The survey found that the employer share of premiums continues to drop, with 50 percent of employees now offered 75 percent/25 percent cost sharing….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

FedEx may have violated USERRA 12-month look-back rule for calculating pension contributions during military leave

Because a FedEx employee’s hours varied from week to week and he often worked overtime, USERRA required FedEx to use a 12-month look-back rule to determine the proper pension contribution for his periods of military service. Finding a triable question on whether FedEx’s calculation was inconsistent with USERRA’s terms—it estimated the hours he would have worked during his leave, rather than the hours he actually worked in the prior 12 months—the Fifth Circuit reversed summary judgment on his pension benefits claim. Judge Batchelder dissented from this part of the opinion, but the panel unanimously found that the employee’s USERRA discrimination and retaliation claims failed because FedEx proved it would have fired him anyway for violating its shipping discount policy by using it in connection with his eBay sales….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 17, 2017

Rising health care benefit costs show no sign of abating globally, Willis Towers Watson survey finds

The cost of employer-provided health care benefits around the globe continues to climb with little relief in sight, according to a survey of medical insurers by Willis Towers Watson. Insurers continue to blame the cost of hospital/inpatient and outpatient medical services, advanced medical technology, and the overuse and overprescribing of services as the primary factors for driving up costs….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

DOL Secretary confronted by calls for action on fiduciary final regs

Recently-confirmed Alexander Acosta, Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL), will confront important issues immediately, including whether the controversial fiduciary regulations should be left in place as is….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 16, 2017


ACA taxes may not all be repealed, GOP senators say

Several Republican senators are remaining noncommittal about whether all taxes related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be repealed under the Senate’s initiative to reform health care. The Senate is said to be crafting its own version of an ACA repeal and replace bill, rather than working from the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA)….

        (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 June 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 is2.15 percent, up from the 1.87 percent rate that applied in January through March 2016. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in June 2017 is 1.00 percent, the same rate that applied in May 2017….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 15, 2017


House AHCA faces uncertain future as Senate looks to its own version

The House bill to repeal and replace the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) and related taxes was narrowly approved in the House last week; the measure now heads to the Senate. The House GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) (HR 1628) as written faces an uncertain future among Senate lawmakers. There is talk that the Senate will start from scratch, rather than consider the House bill….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

AHCA: Will it return to pre-‘Obamacare’ coverage exclusions?

Among the growing concerns about the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) are its treatment of previously considered “essential benefits” and its potential impact on individuals with pre-existing conditions. Amidst those concerns, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, released a report originally issued in 2010 by former Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.). That report underscored insurance company actions that denied health coverage based on pre-existing conditions prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »