Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – October 30, 2015

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Featured This Week


New Reports




October 30, 2015


Review your health care costs now, employers are advised, to avoid 2018 Cadillac tax

Employers should start taking action now to reduce their health care costs, well before the implementation of the Cadillac excise tax on high-cost health plans, Deloitte has urged, in a recently-published Health Policy Brief. Many employers have not taken significant steps to reduce costs in anticipation of the 2018 tax, Deloitte says, pointing out that it could take several years for the impact of such initiatives to be realized….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Majority of U.S. employers support workplace flexibility

Eighty percent of companies surveyed by WorldatWork and FlexJobs offer flexible work arrangements to employees. However, only 37 percent of those surveyed report they have a formal, written philosophy or policy to support employee flexibility options….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

October 29, 2015


IRS issues proposed regulations defining terms related to marital status

The IRS has issued proposed regulations expanding terms related to marital status to take into account recent changes in the law with respect to same-sex couples in the Supreme Court rulings in
Windsor v. U.S. and Obergefell v. Hodges. In light of these legal changes, the IRS has determined that marriages of couples of the same sex should be treated the same as marriages of couples of the opposite sex. Therefore, terms indicating sex, such as “husband,” “wife,” and “husband and wife” should be interpreted in a neutral way to include same-sex spouses as well as opposite-sex spouses….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

House approves reconciliation bill with revenue provisions

On October 23, the House approved a budget reconciliation bill, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Bill of 2015 (HR 3762), which addresses portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The measure calls for the repeal of the individual and employer mandates, as well as the medical device tax, the “Cadillac” tax on high-cost health care plans and the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which holds sway over health care choices. The final vote was 240 to 189. The measure now goes to the Senate, where a Republican majority could well approve it. President Obama, however, is unlikely to sign the legislation, which dismantles his signature health care program….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

2016 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment unchanged from 2015

For the third time since 1975, when Social Security benefits became indexed to increases in the Consumer Price Index, there will be no cost-of-living increase for the coming year, according to the Social Security Administration. Thus, the amount of earnings subject to Social Security taxation under “the wage base” will remain at the current level of $118,500 for 2016. Under the Act, the wage base can be increased only if there has been a benefit increase due to a cost-of-living adjustment….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

October 28, 2015


Text: EBSA, FAQs about ACA implementation (Part XXIX) and mental health parity implementation

(Read Intelliconnect) »


FAQs address array of preventive care coverage issues

The Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (Departments) have jointly issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that address the coverage of preventive services under the market reforms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The FAQs also address issues regarding implementation of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), as amended by the ACA….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Up to 11.4 million will have marketplace coverage in 2016

HHS estimates that 2016 will garner between 9.4 and 11.4 million effectuated enrollments through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance marketplace, according to a brief by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). The estimate is made of up continued enrollment by enrollees from 2015, shifts from off-marketplace coverage to marketplace coverage, and enrollment of the uninsured through the marketplace….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

October 27, 2015


EBSA: Stop-loss policies purchased to manage self-insured welfare plan risk are not plan assets

Stop-loss insurance policies purchased by a plan sponsor to manage risk associated with a self-insured contributory welfare plan do not constitute plan assets, according to a recent EBSA Advisory Opinion….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

GAO recommends clearer guidance to help plan sponsors to choose default investments for participants

Plan sponsors cited uncertainty concerning the application of some regulatory provisions, the extent of fiduciary liability protection, and the ability to adopt innovative products as significant challenges when adopting one of the three qualified default investment alternatives (QDIAs) provided in Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, according to a recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Thus, the GAO recommended that the DOL assess the challenges reported, including the extent to which these challenges can be addressed, and implement corrective actions through clarifying guidance or regulations, as appropriate. The DOL generally agreed with the GAO’s recommendation….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


October 26, 2015


CMS clarifies impact of PACE Act on SHOP exchanges

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the impact of the recently enacted Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act, which revised the definition of “small employer” for purposes of the health care exchanges. The PACE Act, effective October 7, 2015, amends section 1304(b) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) to define a small employer as one that employed an average of 1-50 employees on business days during the preceding calendar year. It provides the option to states of extending this definition to include employers with up to 100 employees….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits take on new importance in recruiting and retaining employees

Faced with a competitive job market and stagnant wages, more organizations are turning to their benefit offerings—health care coverage and retirement savings programs, among them—to help recruit and retain prized employees, according to a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey. SHRM’s
2015 Strategic Benefits Survey found that 38 percent of respondents said their organization leveraged benefits to recruit employees at all levels during the past 12 months, a statistically significant increase from 26 percent in 2013 and 29 percent in 2012. At a time when more than half of respondents said their organizations had difficulty recruiting highly skilled employees, 40 percent of respondents said their organizations used benefits to lure these hard-to-recruit employees during the past 12 months. This represents an increase of 10 percentage points since 2013….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Firing employee for performance reasons before she returned from leave did not violate FMLA

A medical clinician, who was fired before her return from FMLA leave for anxiety attacks, ostensibly due to job problems that she had been counseled about before her leave, cannot take her FMLA interference claim to trial since she failed to demonstrate that her discharge was related to her leave. Affirming summary judgment against the employee, the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that although the employer knew about her job problems before her leave and she had produced a fit-for-duty certification, she failed to refute its proffered reasons for discharging her, which included poor performance, a negative attitude, reporting for duty after working a 24-hour shift at her second job, and coworkers’ concerns that she had acquired a gun….

(Read Intelliconnect) »