Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 6, 2017

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Webcasts and Conferences

Congratulations, Your Health and Retirement Plans Have Been Selected for a DOL Audit!
March 2, 2017 in CA
ISCEBS - North California Chapter

Latest on Labor & Employment and Employee Benefits
March 9, 2017 in NJ
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Retirement Plans: Steering the Fiduciary Ship
March 16, 2017 in NY
Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

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Rising Deductibles Blur Line Between Traditional and High-Deductible Plans
"PPO deductibles are rising at a faster rate than HDHP deductibles -- nearly 10 percent since last year -- and are nearing the IRS threshold to be considered HDHPs ... PPO premiums remain much higher than those of HDHPs, and HDHP out-of-pocket costs remain higher than those of PPO plan ... [E]mployee-paid premiums for HDHPs rose by more than 12 percent for family coverage, while the corresponding premiums for PPO plans increased modestly in comparison."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

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Third Circuit: State University Is Immune from FMLA Suit
"Montclair State University (MSU) is an arm of the state of New Jersey and, as such, is immune from federal suit under the FMLA, the Third Circuit held in ... dismissing a university employee's FMLA suit on Eleventh Amendment immunity grounds.... Left unanswered: whether Congress has abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity for FMLA claims, or whether New Jersey has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in federal court with regard to the employee's state-law claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD)." [Maliandi v. Montclair State University, No. 14-3812 (3d Cir. Dec. 27, 2016]
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

How Insurers Are Working to Combat Rising Prescription Costs
"Higher cost-sharing ... Quantity limits ... Formulary ... Step therapy ... Limited network of specialty pharmacies ... Performance-driven pricing."
Healthcare Trends Institute

Two Big Trends for 2017: Wellness, Education
"[E]mployers this year will focus on employee health and emotional well-being and will use tuition-free college programs for employees to meet company and industry needs. Many will use new technologies to advance these goals."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

GOP Faces Big Decision on Obamacare Taxes
"Congressional Republicans are facing their first big decision on taxes under President Trump: Which ones to scrap in the repeal of ObamaCare.... But some GOP lawmakers have floated leaving them to help pay for their ObamaCare replacement plan, and the party has not yet settled on a path forward. Here's a look at the taxes that could be on the chopping block."
The Hill

Drop in Late Obamacare Enrollment Appears to Be a Trump Effect
"[S]everal snapshots over previous months had shown that sign-ups were on track to overtake last year's enrollment. It was only in the final two weeks of enrollment, when there's typically a deadline-driven surge, that the numbers dropped. Fewer than 400,000 people signed up for Obamacare plans over the last two weeks. Last year, more than 700,000 people signed up in the last week alone."
The New York Times; subscription may be required

[Opinion]

AP 'Fact Check': Despite Woes, Obamacare Not in Death Spiral
"President-elect Donald Trump says that President Barack Obama's health care law 'will fall of its own weight.' House Speaker Paul Ryan says the law is 'in what the actuaries call a death spiral.' And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that 'by nearly any measure, Obamacare has failed.' The problem with all these claims: They are exaggerated, if not downright false."
Associated Press, via wpxi.com

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Surplus Assets Locked in 401(h) Accounts: Is There a Key (PDF)
"[In] PLR 201611003, the IRS ruled that the use of a Section 401(h) account to reimburse certain retirees covered under the pension plan for eligible medical insurance premiums under an HRA plan will not violate Section 401(h) or cause the pension plan to lose its qualified status ... . While GCM 39785 makes it clear that a VEBA cannot transfer funds to a Section 401(h) account, it is not entirely clear whether the converse is true ... The IRS has recently ruled that a governmental entity can transfer excess Section 401(h) account money outside the pension plan to a Section 115 trust ... Without any guidance on orphan accounts, and without any alternatives to avoid the severe taxes imposed on the legally-required reversion, employers should be careful when terminating a pension plan with an over-funded Section 401(h) account."
Groom Law Group

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Disability Regulations and the Impact on ERISA Plans
"[T]he majority of the ERISA plans impacted by these regulations will be health and welfare plans that provide disability benefits ... An ERISA pension plan may be impacted by these regulations if it provides for early or unreduced benefits in the event of disability. However, the regulations will impact only those pension plans under which a plan fiduciary (rather than an external entity such as the Social Security Administration or the employer's long-term disability insurer) makes an independent determination of a participant's disability."
Spencer Fane

Executive Compensation and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Publishes Audit Techniques Guide for Golden Parachute Payments
"The Guide includes 'Nine Steps to Perform in a Parachute Examination' and a 'Golden Parachute Payments Corporate Form 1120 Examination Flow Chart,' which provides assistance in determining whether Section 280G is applicable to a public corporation.... The Guide also gives auditors a list of documents to review in connection with golden parachute payment issues, which also may be helpful to practitioners as they consider the reporting and documentation of change in control payments[.]"
Winston & Strawn LLP

San Francisco, Rhode Island Unveil Newest Pay Ratio Surtax Measures
"[In] San Francisco, the yet-to-be-drafted bill which was announced on January 24 would target publicly-traded companies that file compensation disclosures with the SEC.... [T]he Rhode Island House Bill, H. 5141, would subject companies with a pay ratio exceeding 100 to 1 to a 10% surtax and a 25% surtax for ratios exceeding 250 to 1."
HR Policy Association

Press Releases

NFP Acquires Mattecheck & Associates
National Financial Partners Corp. [NFP]

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2017 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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