Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – September 15, 2017

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Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Analysis: VEBA regulations, 9/17 (343.1.-5)

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  • Court cases: Termination of retiree health benefits, 9/17 (328.05.-1)

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  • Analysis: Retiree health care plans, 9/17 (328.-1)

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  • Court cases: Entitlement to benefits under a QDRO, 9/17 (112.04.-29)

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  • News

    September 15, 2017

    Senators tout new ACA replacement health plans

    A proposal to repeal the structure and architecture of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with a block grant given annually to states to help individuals pay for health care has been unveiled by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and former US Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). In the meantime, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) introduced his “Medicare for all” plan, which would be a federally administered single-payer health care program….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Uninsured rates for some groups rose, survey finds

    Uninsured rates rose for people aged 35 to 49, adults making more than 400 percent of the poverty level, and those living in states that did not expand Medicaid, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund. However, the overall uninsured rate has remained statistically unchanged from 2016 at 14 percent, or 27 million working-age adults….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 14, 2017

    IRS should mitigate limitations of BCBS Standard plan on Cadillac plan tax: GAO

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impose a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost employer sponsored coverage (also known as the Cadillac tax). The tax would be imposed when an employee’s annual cost of coverage exceeds an established dollar limit. This limit could be adjusted upward if, based on its age and gender characteristics, it is likely to have higher health care costs than the national workforce, on average. The ACA specifies that this adjustment would be made based on the premium costs of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Standard plan under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the IRS should consider taking steps to mitigate the limitations of the BCBS Standard premium cost data, such as by combining data from multiple FEHBP plans….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Prescription drug spending in U.S. among highest worldwide

    Prescription drug spending in the United States exceeds spending in nine other high income countries, with generic drugs comprising 84 percent of the total pharmaceutical market. Besides the U.S., a Commonwealth Fund issue brief looked at prescription drug spending in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 13, 2017

    Employers look to reduce work-from-home options, but job candidates not on board

    While there is a trend among some larger companies of bringing remote workers back into corporate offices, candidates still expect work from home options, according to new data from the MRINetwork 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study. Increased collaboration, creativity, mentoring and innovation are employers’ intent, but they may be alienating top talent in the executive, managerial and professional labor market—a sector that is candidate-driven and challenged by talent shortages across many industries….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Governors aim for bipartisan approach to ACA changes

    Govs. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) have announced they are working on a bipartisan plan for various changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The governors have broadly indicated that their plan will address market stability and possibly the reach of the employer shared responsibility requirement….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    IRS extends temporary nondiscrimination relief for closed DB plans through 2018

    The IRS has extended for an additional year the temporary relief provided in IRS Notice 2014-5 for certain closed defined benefit (DB) pension plans (i.e., plans that are closed to new entrants as of a specified date, but continue to provide ongoing accruals for existing participants). Thus, the temporary relief is available for plan years beginning before 2019, if the conditions of Notice 2014-5 are satisfied….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 12, 2017

    Deli worker fired for leaving store without telling managers may have given timely FMLA notice a day later

    A deli worker, who was fired for job abandonment the day she left the store without giving managers notice, raised triable issues on whether she provided “adequate and timely notice” that she was requesting FMLA leave based on evidence that her father called the next day to say she was seeking medical care and provided documentation two days after she left, ruled a federal district court in Missouri, denying the employer’s motion for summary judgment on her FMLA interference claim. The same set of disputed facts prompted the court to also deny the employee’s motion for summary judgment on the employer’s affirmative defense that she abandoned her job….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    EBSA will not enforce arbitration limitation in BICE and principal transaction exemption

    The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued an enforcement policy concerning the arbitration limitation provisions in the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) and the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries and Employee Benefit Plans and IRAs that accompany the fiduciary conflict of interest regulations. The final fiduciary regulations define the term “fiduciary” and include provisions to ensure that investors’ best interests are served in making investment recommendations….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    ERISA Advisory Council to hold meeting on September 25

    The Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council, will hold a teleconference on September 25 in Washington, D.C., in Room C5521, Room 4, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW. Public access is available only in this room….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 11, 2017

    Congress running out of time to change ACA through reconciliation

    When the fiscal year ends on September 30, 2017, the opportunity for the Senate to alter the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) using the budget reconciliation process ends as well. According to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), the Senate Parliamentarian determined that the concurrent resolution allowing changes to the ACA (P.L. 111-148) through reconciliation, which requires a bare majority in the Senate rather than 60 votes and is not subject to filibuster, will expire at the end of the fiscal year. Sanders made the announcement through his role as the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    CMS cuts spending on navigators, ACA enrollment education

    CMS has cut spending on educational activities for the 2018 open enrollment period by 90 percent to $10 million. In addition, navigators will receive funding based on their ability to meet their enrollment goals during the previous year, CMS announced….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »