Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – May 6, 2016

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May 6, 2016


Employers says ACA is prompting them to hire more freelancers

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is triggering companies to hire more freelancers, according to a new study from Field Nation, an online work platform, and executive development firm Future Workplace. The survey of 600 human resource decision makers and 959 freelancers showed that between 60% and 74% of companies plan to hire more freelancers, and, although 89% of responding companies said that health care benefits are key to attracting and retaining talent, nearly one-third of them intend to eliminate them due to the ACA….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Senators and representatives introduce CRA resolution to stop implementation of DOL’s final ‘fiduciary rule’

Led by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), dozens of Republican senators introduced a resolution (S.J. Res. 33) to stop the implementation of the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) final rule addressing conflicts of interest in retirement advice and defining the term “fiduciary” for ERISA purposes. Isakson, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) filed the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reject what they call the Administration’s “Retirement Advice Gag Rule.” In addition, Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), chairman of the Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, along with Rep. Charles Boustany, chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy, and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), introduced a resolution (H.J. Res. 88), under the Congressional Review Act, to block the Department of Labor’s allegedly controversial rule restricting access to investment advice. The House resolution was approved on April 21, 2016 by the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employee failed to tie her accommodation requests to her disability

Because a county employee who served the public failed to tie her requests for a physical barrier separating her from the public with her disability—chronic fatigue syndrome—her ADA failure-to-accommodate claim could not be revived on appeal. Nor did she present any evidence that the county’s refusal to provide her with the requested accommodation resulted from race discrimination, ruled the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 5, 2016


Idaho extends “grandmothered” health insurance plans

The Idaho Department of Insurance has announced that health insurance plans that are not compliant with provisions of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), known as “grandmothered” health plans, will be extended through December 31, 2017. Health insurance plans that were purchased between March 23, 2010—when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) was signed into law—and October 1, 2013, are considered “grandmothered” policies….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits costs increased 0.5 percent in first quarter 2016

Benefits costs for civilian workers increased 0.6 percent for the three-month period ending March 2016, according to the most recent Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the first quarter 2016, benefits costs rose slightly less than salaries, which increased 0.7 percent….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 4, 2016


L.A. City Council approves paid sick leave measure

The Los Angeles City Council has approved a measure under which the City Attorney will draft an ordinance providing that employees who work in the city will be entitled to six days of paid sick leave each year—twice the number to which they are entitled under state law. The council approved the measure by a vote of 13-1….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Gaps still exist between uninsured and insured children

The uninsurance rate for children has fallen steadily since the introduction of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 and dropped significantly, from 7.1 percent in 2013 to 4.8 percent in 2015, following implementation of key coverage provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Using data from a recent National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the Urban Institute examined changes in the share of children age 18 and under without health insurance between 1997 and 2015….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Satisfaction with retirement decreases

Across the board, fewer American retirees say they are “very satisfied” with their retirements, according to recent research from the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI). In addition, a growing number of retirees report that they are “not at all satisfied” with their retirements….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 3, 2016


Text: IRS, Rev. Proc. 2016-28, 2017 inflation adjusted limits for HSAs

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues 2017 inflation-adjusted amounts for HSAs

The IRS has issued inflation adjusted amounts under Code Sec. 223 for health savings accounts (HSAs) for 2017. For calendar year 2017, the annual limitation on deductions under Code Sec. 223(b)(2)(A) for an individual with self-only coverage under a high deductible health plan is $3,400. For calendar year 2017, the limitation on deductions under Code Sec. 223(b)(2)(B) for an individual with family coverage under a high deductible health plan is $6,750….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

No revival of ADA claims of employee who self-monitored activities as accommodation

Affirming summary judgment against the failure-to-accommodate claim of an employee who suffered from a permanent back condition, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that in the circumstances of this case, his employer could not be faulted, as a matter of law, when he opted to remain silent, voluntarily chose to participate in certain activities, or otherwise failed to police his own physical needs as the parties had agreed. The employee’s attempt to revive his hostile work environment and retaliatory discharge claims also failed. Summary judgment also was affirmed against his claim that he was fired in retaliation for reporting safety concerns to management that he believed were violations of federal or state law also failed….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 2, 2016


What steps are employers taking as they aim for small health care cost increases?

Nearly four in five employers (78%) project moderate to significant changes in their health plan designs and vendor strategies over the next four years, according to a survey of U.S. employers by Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory, broking and solutions company. These changes are intended to manage health care costs and improve plan value. Employers also anticipate cost increases in 2016 to be around four percent (for the second consecutive year), the smallest increase in 15 years but more than twice the Consumer Price Index, says Willis Towers Watson….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

High Court’s contraception compromise appears ‘unworkable’

Has the U.S. government obligated itself to further accommodate the objections of religious non-profit organizations to the contraception coverage mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)? According to those leading the charge in the battle against the government regulations, the answer is yes. The government, however, is not willing to give in that easily, maintaining that the religious non-profits are claiming more in the name of religious liberty than the law actually allows, and that alternatives would make it more difficult for women to get the birth control provided for by the law….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Plan equitably estopped from recovering overpayment of retirement benefits

An employer and its pension plan were equitably estopped from reducing an employee’s pension and requiring a substantial repayment from him based on the plan’s own inaccurate calculation of his early retirement benefits, which they represented to him verbally and in writing at least four times as they actively invited him to consider early retirement, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled….

(Read Intelliconnect) »