Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – May 13, 2016

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News

May 13, 2016

 

Private exchanges may have insignificant impact on SHOP marketplaces

It is unlikely that private exchanges will have a significant impact on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) SHOP Marketplaces, according to findings by RAND Corporation, after discussions with private exchange operators, insurers, and other experts. Although many respondents thought private exchanges could serve as a mechanism for avoiding the ACA’s 40% Cadillac tax, RAND has proposed that the tax could also be avoided by reducing plan generosity or making other changes to benefit design….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

EEOC ‘resource document’ clarifies employer-provided leave as a reasonable accommodation under ADA

In light of a “troubling trend” marked by a “prevalence of employer policies that deny or unlawfully restrict the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation,” the EEOC has issued a new “resource document” addressing leave as a disability accommodation under the ADA. The resource document, Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act, is aimed at helping educate employers and employees about workplace leave under the ADA to prevent discriminatory denials of leave….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 12, 2016

 

Special enrollment rules tightened, improving financial viability of CO-OPs

In order to improve stability in the health insurance marketplace and give consumers access to quality, affordable coverage, HHS is taking steps to strengthen the integrity of special enrollment periods (SEPs) for qualified health plans (QHPs) and to simplify the rules for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program. Under an interim final rule, HHS is tightening the rules for certain SEPs and making it clear that SEPs are only available in certain defined and limited circumstances. The interim final rule also makes several changes to the regulations governing the CO-OP program that are intended to enhance the ability of CO-OPs to attract investors and develop new relationships that will support their short and long-term financial viability.…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Final regs issued for multiemployer plans in critical and declining status seeking benefit reductions

The IRS has issued final regulations and revised procedures regarding applications for a suspension of benefits for participants and beneficiaries of a multiemployer defined benefit pension plan in critical and declining status under Code Sec. 432(e)(9), which was added by the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA), Division O of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-235). The final regulations are effective April 28, 2016, and applicable to a suspension for which the approval or denial is issued on or after April 26, 2016. In the case of a systematically important plan, the final regulations apply for any modified suspension implemented on or after April 26, 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 11, 2016

 

Fact issue existed on whether company that fired employee for excessive leave calculated leave correctly

A genuine factual dispute existed about whether weekends and holidays could be counted as part of leave under the FMLA and under a collective bargaining agreement. The answer to these questions would determine whether a manufacturing plant was justified in terminating an assembly line employee on grounds she had exhausted her 12 weeks of FMLA leave and an additional eight weeks of leave provided by the CBA, held a federal district court in Tennessee, denying summary judgment on her FMLA and ADA claims. The employee argued she had not actually exhausted the leave to which she was entitled when her doctor released her to return to work….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

 

Pregnancy, disability bias in agency’s crosshairs as it resolves, files suits

The EEOC has recently resolved lawsuits against employers in Arizona, putting to rest allegations of pregnancy discrimination. The agency also leveled charges of disability discrimination against a Florida staffing firm….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 10, 2016

 

Forward-thinking employers moving toward consumer-driven health plan model

When midsize employers offer high deductible health plans (HDHP), 34 percent of employees elect them when given the choice, according to “Benefitfocus State of Employee Benefits 2016 – Midsize Employer Edition,” a snapshot of real, but anonymous, benefit selection data from over 500,000 consumers across nearly 2,400 midsize employers on the BENEFITFOCUS® Platform….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Some 2016 plans just say no to placing all expensive drugs on highest tier

Increasingly, more insurance plans available on health insurance exchanges are assigning high-cost drugs used to treat complex diseases on lower cost-sharing tiers than in previous years. A study conducted by Avalere Health found that some plans in 2016 are not following the usual trend of offering these types of drugs on the highest cost-sharing tier in their plans’ formularies. Caroline Peterson, senior vice president of Avalere noted that this trend is “good news for consumers” because it “may improve access to treatments and mean patients pay less out-of-pocket for their care….”

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers aren’t effectively communicating Roth 401k options

Roth 401ks can be one of the most tax-effective ways for employees to save for retirement, but most U.S. employers are not offering or fully explaining and promoting the benefits and value of Roth 401k contributions, according to retirement experts at Willis Towers Watson….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 9, 2016

 

Employers struggle to communicate advantages of free ACA preventive care benefits

The message that free preventive care benefits are available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still not being conveyed effectively by many employers, according to results from a recent survey by the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH). The online survey, conducted in late 2015, also revealed that only ten percent of large employers are aware of all of the required preventive services to be covered at no patient cost….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Republicans call proposed rule “one-size-fits-all” approach, want more info

Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, were joined by 32 other Republican committee members in criticizing a proposed rule that CMS issued last December. In addition to raising concerns about the rule and what the House committee members called, its “one-size-fits-all approach,” the legislators asked Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator for CMS, to provide answers to a series of questions on the proposed rule….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

 

Teleworkers more likely to pursue wellness options on their own compared to office-based counterparts

Among the nearly two-thirds of full-time U.S. employees who say they do not participate in a workplace wellness program, teleworkers are more likely to pursue wellness options on their own compared to their office-based counterparts. However, about 45 percent of all employees—no matter where they work—do not participate in wellness-related activities either through their workplace or individually….

(Read Intelliconnect) »