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Featured This Week
- Analysis: Temporary High Risk Pool Ended As Of April 30, 6/14 (504.-1)
- Analysis: General Rules For Sec. 125 Plans, 6/14 (351.-1)
- Analysis: COBRA Update Notices, Notification Requirements, 6/14 (329.3.-1)
- Analysis: Service Providers Still Required To Disclose Float Income, 6/14 (605.-35)
July 11, 2014
Health Care Under ACA Is Not Better, According To Small Business Owners
Fifty-one percent of independent business owners recently surveyed reported that their companies’ health care is neither better nor more affordable under health care reform. Not only that, but, now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been implemented, 34 percent of those surveyed said they are unsatisfied with their current health care, and 21 percent are unsure…
ACA Will Play Role In November Elections, But Might Not Get The Lead
The health reform law will be a contributing factor in how Americans vote in the November elections. But it might not be the deciding factor that some believe it will be, according to a recent survey. Nearly seven in 10 Americans (68 percent) say the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will play a role in deciding how they vote in the U.S. House elections this fall, according to a new Bankrate.com report. Of the 68 percent that say the ACA will factor into their voting decisions, 32 percent of Americans say they will be more likely to vote Republican and 26 percent say they are more likely to vote Democrat…
Concerns Raised Over Underfunded Multiemployer Pension Plans
Despite substantial economic and market gains, multiemployer pension plans covering about 1.5-million people are severely underfunded, threatening benefit cuts for current and future retirees, according to the FY 2013 Projections Report released by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) immediately issued a statement saying that he is “very concerned” about the shortfall…
July 10, 2014
Supreme Court: Religious College Does Not Have To File Contraception Mandate Opt-Out Form
In the wake of its decision in the landmark case Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, the Supreme Court has granted Wheaton College an injunction from completing and filing EBSA Form 700. Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts college and religious employer, alleged that the form itself violated the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Northern District of Illinois had denied the college an injunction days before the decision in Hobby Lobby. Justice Scalia concurred with the order…
Discussion Letter Clarifies GINA, ADA Boundaries In Fitness-For-Duty Exams
An informal discussion letter released by the EEOC sketches out the lawful boundaries under GINA and the ADA with regard to medical history inquires and annual fitness-for-duty examinations. Although the letter responds to an inquiry about medical history information sought in a questionnaire used as part of a public employer’s annual fitness-for-duty exam, the boundaries discussed apply equally to private employers covered under these statutes…
Vast Majority Of Americans Favor Flexible Workplace Policies
The vast majority of Americans (89 percent) feel employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done, signaling a strong sentiment in favor of the concept of flexible workplaces, according to a recent Harris Poll. In addition, 52 percent of U.S. workers (not including those self-employed)—and 58 percent of working parents—feel they could do their job better if they were allowed a more flexible work schedule. Similarly, 43 percent of workers and 46 percent of working parents say they could do their job better if they were allowed a more consistent and/or predictable schedule. The poll found that U.S. companies may be making some gains in this area, as two-thirds of both overall Americans (67 percent) and, more specifically, U.S. workers (66 percent) believe employers are getting better at offering workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs…
July 9, 2014
Text: CMS, Proposed Regulations, Annual Eligibility Redeterminations For Exchange Participation And Insurance Affordability Programs; Health Insurance Issuer Standards Under The ACA, Including Standards Relating To Exchanges
HHS Eases 2015 Marketplace Enrollment Process
Existing Marketplace consumers may now have a simple way to remain in the same health plan next year, as individuals who signed up for coverage through the state and federal Exchanges will be automatically re-enrolled in coverage for 2015, should they so choose. Per a proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), consumers may shop for another plan or just opt to auto-enroll in their health plan. This proposal should reduce the likelihood of a steep drop of the 8 million individuals who signed up for health coverage during the 2014 open enrollment period. The proposed regulations were published in the July 1 Federal Register…
Final Regs Issued On Purchase Of Longevity Annuity Contracts By Plans
The Internal Revenue Service has issued final regulations relating to the purchase of longevity annuity contracts under defined contribution plans, 403(b) plans, IRAs, and eligible governmental Sec. 457 plans. The final regulations modify the minimum distribution rules in order to facilitate the purchase of deferred annuities that begin at an advanced age. The regulations apply to contracts purchased on or after July 2, 2014 and were published in the July 2 Federal Register…
Most Employers Believe ACA Provisions Will Have Financial Impact On Their Company
In 2014, 82 percent of employers indicated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that the value of health insurance be reported on employees’ W-2s will have a financial impact on their company, up from 55 percent in 2013, according to recent research from PwC. The 2014 Health and Well-being Touchtone Survey, which contains responses from 1,200 employers, noted that employers also are concerned about the financial impact of the ACA’s required additional fees and taxes (such as the PCORI fees and reinsurance fees) and the excise tax on high-cost health plans…
July 8, 2014
Text: IRS, Final Rule, Tax Credit for Employee Health Insurance Expenses of Small Employers
ACA’s Contraceptive Coverage Regulations Violate Religious Rights Of Closely Held Corporations
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive mandate, as applied to closely held corporations, violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), the Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-4 opinion. The court found that the mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion and that the HHS regulations failed to satisfy RFRA’s least-restrictive- means standard. The case is Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (No.13-354)…
Small Employer Health Insurance Credit Final Regulations Retain Uniform Percentage Rules
The Internal Revenue Service has issued final regulations dealing with the Code Sec. 45R tax credit for certain small employers that provide health coverage to their employees. These final regulations adopt, with certain modifications, proposed regulations that were issued on August 26, 2013. The final regulations were published in the June 30 Federal Register…
No Presumption Of Prudence For ESOP Fiduciaries, Supreme Court Rules
ESOP fiduciaries are not entitled to any special presumption of prudence, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a unanimous decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. Rather, such fiduciaries are subject to the same duty of prudence that applies to ERISA fiduciaries in general, ERISA Sec. 404(a)(1)(B), except that they need not diversify the fund’s assets. The Supreme Court’s ruling vacates the holding by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and remands the case to the Sixth Circuit for further proceedings…
July 7, 2014
2015 Should See Only Slight Rise In Health Care Spending Growth Rate
A 6.8 percent rise in medical inflation is predicted for 2015, up from a 6.5 percent rise predicted for 2014, in an annual report by the PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), entitled Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers. According to HRI, the relatively modest growth in spending is attributed at least in part to increasing numbers of newly insured, which, in turn, is most likely attributable to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) already completed Fall 2013-Spring 2014 open enrollment and the upcoming Fall 2014 open enrollment in the Marketplace. Other factors contributing to the increase in the health care spending rate include a stronger economy and the high costs of specialty drugs, such as new Hepatitis C therapies, noted HRI…
Participation In Voluntary Benefits Expected To Grow
Employees are increasingly viewing voluntary benefits as an important component of their overall benefits package. According to The ABCs of Voluntary, the fourth in a series of five research briefs based on The Prudential Insurance Company of America’s (Prudential’s) Eighth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond, for 71 percent of employees, the offer of voluntary benefits increases the value of their company’s overall benefits program, up from 63 percent in 2012…
Employees Fail To Establish Fiduciary Misrepresentation As Cause Of Plan Loss Following Stock Drop
Plan participants could not recover losses incurred following a decline in the value of employer stock, as they did not allege that the stock drop occurred when purported fiduciary misrepresentations were revealed as untrue, according to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Metyk, et al. v. KeyCorp, et al. An inflated stock price alone does not constitute injury sufficient to state an ERISA claim, the court stressed…
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