Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – May 3, 2019

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Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Court cases: Coverage under the FMLA, 4/19 (327.1.-25)

    (Read Cheetah) »

  • Analysis: Paying retiree medical expenses with surplus pension assets, 4/19 (328.4.-1)

    (Read Cheetah) »

  • Analysis: EBSA Form M-1, 4/19 (606.1.-13)

    (Read Cheetah) »

  • Analysis: Multiemployer plan disclosure, 4/19 (620.-29)

    (Read Cheetah) »

  • News

    Enforcement curtailed for ‘good faith’ reliance on now-invalidated AHP rule

    The Department of Labor has issued a policy statement on association health plans (AHPs) in light of a federal district court in the District of Columbia’s partial invalidation of the Trump Administration’s association health plan final rule. The DOL noted its disagreement with the court’s ruling in State of New York v. United States Department of Labor, and that the Department of Justice filed an appeal on April 26, 2019.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    HHS reduces annual penalty limits for HIPAA violation

    HHS has notified the public that it is exercising its discretion in how it applies HHS regulations concerning the assessment of civil money penalties (CMPs) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Current HHS regulations apply the same cumulative annual CMP limit across four categories of violations based on the level of culpability. As a matter of enforcement discretion, and pending further rulemaking, HHS will apply a different cumulative annual CMP limit for each of the four penalties tiers in the HITECH Act. This exercise of enforcement discretion is effective indefinitely.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Class claims against Walmart for deficient COBRA notice can proceed

    A terminated employee who alleged Walmart violated COBRA’s election notice requirements can proceed with her class action claims where the notice did not include the plan administrator’s name, address and telephone number, a federal district court in Florida ruled.

    Walmart terminated the employee on April 8, 2016. In her first amended class action complaint and demand for jury trial, the employee alleged Walmart violated COBRA by failing to provide required notices of her and her children’s right to continued health coverage. Walmart now moves to dismiss the complaint, arguing the employee lacks standing, the election notice complies with the COBRA regulations, and it is not liable as it is not the plan administrator. Walmart also requests that the court strike the employee’s jury demand.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Limited EPCRS update expands correction options under SCP

    The IRS has issued a limited update to the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) that expands eligibility under the Self-Correction Program (SCP) in order to permit correction of certain plan document failures and select plan loan failures, including the failure to obtain spousal consent and allowing an excess number of loans. The update, which also provides new methods for correcting operational failures by plan amendment under SCP, is intended to facilitate compliance with the qualification rules while also reducing the attendant costs and burdens of compliance.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Large employers expected to spend an average of $3.6 million on wellness plans in 2019

    Large employers are expected to spend an average of $3.6 million on wellness plans in 2019 to help create a healthier and more productive workforce, according to recent research from the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) and Fidelity Investments. The annual Health and Well-Being Survey found that 40 percent of these budgets will be applied to providing employees and their spouses/domestic partners with financial incentives to encourage participation.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    HHS final rule lowers premiums for exchange plans and increases market stability

    The Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020 final rule reduces user fees for plans offered on HealthCare.gov, and encourages the use of lower-cost generic drugs, while attempting to improve market stability and consumer choice. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the changes finalized in the rule are targeted to further the Trump Administration’s goals of lowering premiums, increasing market stability, reducing regulatory burdens, enhancing the consumer experience, and reducing federal expenditures.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    GOP bill would expand small business health care options via AHPs

    Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that they say would expand health care options and lower costs for small businesses through association health plans (AHPs). The Association Health Plans Act of 2019, H.R. 2294, would “level the playing field and allow small businesses to provide their employees with competitive, high-quality health care plans on par with those offered by unions and large corporations,” according to Representative Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), one of the bill’s sponsors.

            (Read Cheetah) »