Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – May 5, 2017


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Featured This Week


New Reports




May 5, 2017


HHS to receive $73.5B under House funding bill, ACA left out

The 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill allocates a total of $73.5 billion to HHS for the 2017 Fiscal year, ending September 30, 2017. The House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill on May 1, 2017. The bill provides discretionary funding for the federal government and prioritizes health while cutting funding for “ineffective or wasteful programs….”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Generational split on health benefits led by millennials

There are major differences between younger Millennial workers and their older Gen X and Baby Boomer colleagues when it comes to how they view and use health benefits, according to a recent analysis from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 4, 2017

Retiree ineligible to contribute to HSA due to Medicare entitlement: IRS

The IRS has issued an information letter verifying that individuals are ineligible to contribute to a health savings account (HSA) if they are enrolled in Medicare. The letter is in response to an individual who retired from his job and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Several months later, the individual returned to work, enrolled in his employer’s health plan, and was provided with an HSA….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Injunction barring Anthem’s $54 billion acquisition of Cigna upheld

Following an expedited appeal of a federal district court injunction barring Anthem, Inc.’s proposed $54 billion acquisition of Cigna Corp, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. has affirmed the issuance of that permanent injunction on two alternative and independent grounds. First, the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining the merger based on Anthem’s failure to show the kind of extraordinary efficiencies necessary to offset the conceded anticompetitive effect of the merger in the 14 states in which Anthem currently operates: the loss of Cigna, an innovative competitor in a highly concentrated market. Second, the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining the merger based on its separate and independent determination that the merger would have a substantial anticompetitive effect in the Richmond, Virginia, large group employer market….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 3, 2017

Cardiac monitoring service breaches of unsecured ePHI leads to settlement with OCR

CardioNet, Inc. (CardioNet), an ambulatory cardiac monitoring service, has entered into a resolution agreement with the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to settle allegations of breaches of unsecured electronic protected health information (ePHI) affecting a total of 3,610 individuals on two separate occasions. CardioNet has agreed pay HHS $2,500,00 and comply with a corrective action plan (CAP).The resolution agreement releases CardioNet from any actions HHS may have against CardioNet that arose under the conduct described in the agreement….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Adoption of annual wellness visits increasing at a moderate rate

Trends in annual wellness visits (AWV) indicate a modest increase in the percentage of Medicare beneficiaries receiving an AWV from 7.5 percent in 2011 to 15.6 percent in 2014, according to a study of the trends related to annual wellness visits (AWV) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study found that “adoption of AWV was concentrated in ACOs [accountable care organizations] and among certain PCPs [primary care physicians] and regions of the country….”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Tax-compliant DISC transaction designed to avoid Roth IRA contribution limits upheld

The IRS Commissioner was not empowered, under the substance-over-form doctrine, to recharacterize tax-compliant transactions between a domestic international corporation (DISC) and Roth IRAs that had the effect of avoiding the Roth IRA contribution limits, according to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 2, 2017


Majority oppose use of hardball negotiating tactics to replace ACA

With President Trump and Congress continuing to discuss repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, a majority of the public opposes using hardball tactics as a way to force Democrats in Congress to negotiate a replacement, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Companies that employ best practices experience lower cost increases

Employers using the most best practices experience lower average health care cost increases than those using the fewest, according to research from Mercer. In 2016, Mercer found that the two groups had average increases of 3.8 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 1, 2017


All-encompassing strategy is key to building effective employee health care programs

Employers say their top three priority changes for managing costs of health care programs for 2017 are: 1) increasing employee point-of-care costs by adjusting deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and out-of-network coinsurance (51%); 2) modifying vendor strategies by expanding wellness programs or changing vendor partners (32%); and 3) adding new provisions to prescription drug plans to encourage appropriate utilization (30%). This is according to results from a new survey of 666 employers, by Willis Towers Watson….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Marketplace stability remains uncertain but trends are positive

Health insurers providing plans on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual marketplace continue to face instability due to fluctuating insurer participation, premium increases, and unclear forecasts from lawmakers and the Trump Administration. Although the individual marketplace accounts for only 7 percent of the nation’s health coverage, insurer confidence in the exchanges remains a crucial component of the ACA. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analyzed insurers’ financial performance in the early years of the ACA to determine the state of the individual insurance market….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »