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<< Older News   |  March 25, 2017

Benefits in the News


House Pulls Obamacare Repeal Bill
The Hill
Mar. 24, 2017
"President Trump is moving on after the House GOP pulled its healthcare bill from a floor vote, he told the Washington Post's Robert Costa on Friday afternoon. Trump told Costa by phone that a push to repeal and replace ObamaCare -- the centerpiece of Republican messaging throughout the last several elections -- won't come up again in the near future."
Not a Done Deal: Ryan Pulls Back Bill to Replace Obamacare
Kaiser Health News
Mar. 24, 2017
"Despite days of intense negotiations and last-minute concessions to win over wavering GOP conservatives and moderates, House Republican leaders Friday failed to win enough support to pass their plan to partially repeal and replace the [ACA].... The decision came after a fluid 24 hours of negotiation among Republican leaders and different factions of the party."
Perspectives for Employers on the Proposal for Health Reform About to Be Voted on in the House
Winstead PC
Mar. 24, 2017
"It is important to remember that [Friday's] scheduled vote is only the House voting on this proposal, there are still a number of steps and votes and committee conferences that will need to take place before we actually have any change to the law.... The purpose of this alert is solely to look at the potential impact of the 2017 Bill as it is currently drafted and what it might mean for employers and their group health plans and retiree medical plans. We are still a long way from final legislation approved by both the House and Senate[.]"
Anxiety Disorders: Why They Matter and What Employers Can Do
Partnership for Workplace Mental Health
Mar. 24, 2017
"Anxiety disorders lead to an average of 4.6 work days lost to disability per month and 18.1 work days lost to disability per 3 months, as well as an average of 5.5 work days of reduced productivity per month ... [F]or every $1 invested in treating depression and anxiety, there is a $4 return for the economy. While scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety would cost $147 billion over the next 15 years, it would yield a 5% improvement in workforce participation -- representing a $399 billion return on investment[.]"
Premium Hikes Largely Caused by Obamacare Regs
The Heritage Foundation
Mar. 24, 2017
"Obamacare caused premiums to rise for various reasons, chief among them being the vast new regulations the law imposed on insurance markets.... [A] chart provides estimates of the average impact that various Obamacare regulations have had on premiums."
Business Roundtable Comment Letter to SEC on Implementation of Pay Ratio Rule
Business Roundtable [BRT]
[Opinion]
Mar. 24, 2017
"[C]omplying with the CEO pay ratio rule is costly and burdensome for U.S. public companies of all sizes.... [T]his is particularly complicated and costly for a company with employees located in different jurisdictions throughout the world.... Despite the significant compliance costs, the CEO pay ratio fails to provide material information to investors about a company's compensation of its CEO or its employees and will not enhance investors' understanding of a company's compensation practices."
Text of IRS Publication 5258: ACA Information Returns (AIR) Submission Composition and Reference Guide (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]
[Official Guidance]
Mar. 24, 2017
138 pages; rev. Mar. 2017. "The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to all types of external transmitters about composing and successfully transmitting compliant submissions to IRS. The audience of this document is: [1] Issuer: A business filing their own ACA Information Returns regardless of whether they are required to file electronically (transmit 250 or more of the same type of information return) or volunteer to file electronically ... [2] Transmitter -- A third-party sending the electronic information return data directly to the IRS on behalf of any business required to file. [3] Software Developer -- An organization writing either origination or transmission software according to IRS specifications."
IRS Issues Guidance to Correct Defective 403(b) Plans
Ice Miller LLP
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 24, 2017
"[A]mendments must be retroactive to January 1, 2010, so a correction could cover a lot of years. If a plan was administered based on a defective plan document, that failure would also need to be corrected retroactively using EPCRS. Employers will need to collect information from 2010 forward as to what amendments have been made to the 403(b) plan and when, as well as to whether operation was consistent with those plan terms."
IRS Clarifies Rules for Disposal of Cafeteria Plan Forfeitures upon Discontinuance of Business Operations
The Wagner Law Group
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 24, 2017
"In Information Letter 2016-0077, the IRS responds to a taxpayer's inquiry by confirming that the unused funds will not revert to the U.S. Treasury but are instead disposed of in accordance with the plan document."
Deadline for Plan Sponsors to Submit Qualification Amendments with the Puerto Rico Treasury Is Fast Approaching
Littler
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 24, 2017
"[P]lan sponsors or participating employers using the calendar year as the tax year that have adopted 'qualification amendments' during 2016, must submit such amendments with the Puerto Rico Treasury on or before April 15, 2017 ... The term 'qualification amendment' is limited to the [certain] modifications[.]"
MPRA Benefit Suspension Applications: Notes from Meeting of Actuaries and Treasury, PBGC and DOL (PDF)
Multiemployer Plans Subcommittee, American Academy of Actuaries
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 24, 2017
"The application for benefits suspensions under MPRA represent a significant time and expense for all parties involved. Thus, it is in the best interest of plan sponsors, actuaries, Treasury, and PBGC that there is a high success rate with respect to future MPRA applications. The discussion in this exchange was intended to provide plan sponsors and actuaries with insights about the MPRA application review process with a goal to help plan sponsors make decisions about applying and to increase the acceptance rate for those who do apply." [Editor's note: the meeting was held on Feb. 22, 2017.]
Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave
Pew Research Center
Mar. 24, 2017
"Americans largely support paid leave, and most supporters say employers, rather than the federal or state government, should cover the costs. Still, the public is sharply divided over whether the government should require employers to provide this benefit or let employers decide for themselves, and relatively few see expanding paid leave as a top policy priority."
House Republicans Tweak AHCA Again; CBO Scores Earlier Changes
Health Affairs
Mar. 24, 2017
"The amendment would first delay the repeal of the [ACA]'s additional Medicare tax on the wages of taxpayers exceeding $250,000 a year ($200,000 for single filers) from 2017 to 2022, and repeal a transition rule applying to the withholding of this tax by employers for 2017. This measure would raise about $50 billion in revenue. Second, the amendment would make a number of changes to the AHCA's Patient and State Stability Fund. Under the amendment, states would be able to use the fund for reducing the cost of insurance coverage in the individual and small group market for individuals who have high health insurance costs due to the low population density of states where they reside.... Finally, the amendment revises the section of the ACA defining essential health benefits (EHB)."
Bill to Help Small Business Retirement Plans Introduced in House, Senate
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]
Mar. 24, 2017
"Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to make it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans -- or at least easier to file Form 5500. The bill directs the [DOL] and the Treasury Department to allow employers and sole-proprietors participating in retirement plans administered in the same way to file a single aggregated Form 5500."
CBO and JCT Cost Estimate on the American Health Care Act, Incorporating Manager's Amendments 4, 5, 24, and 25
Congressional Budget Office [CBO] and Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT]
Mar. 24, 2017
"The provisions dealing with health insurance coverage would reduce deficits, on net, by $883 billion; the noncoverage provisions would increase deficits by $733 billion, mostly by reducing revenues.... [In] 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law.... In 2026, an estimated 52 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.... In 2018 and 2019 ... average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher under the legislation than under current law. By 2026, average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market would be roughly 10 percent lower than under current law."
Essential Health Benefits: What Could Their Elimination Mean?
Health Affairs
Mar. 24, 2017
"This comprehensive a repeal of the ACA would have far-ranging consequences for our health care system ... The full effect of the repeal of Title I or any of its protections would depend on what would happen to prior law and on interactions with state law.... Repeal of any particular provision of Title I, moreover, would be like pulling a thread from woven fabric -- it could have implications throughout the law that are difficult to predict, as is the case with repeal of the essential health benefits requirement,"
DOL Fiduciary Rule Status Update
Stradley Ronon
Mar. 24, 2017
"The [DOL] received 900 comment letters, along with several petitions, in respect of its proposed 60-day delay of the fiduciary rule. As expected, there was a split in support/opposition of the proposed delay.... The DOL is confident it will be able to make a final decision on whether to delay the rule before the April 10 applicability date.... April 17 is the deadline to submit comment letters addressing both the questions raised in the President's Memorandum, as well as the litany of questions posed by the DOL in its proposed delay."
If Essential Health Benefits Standards Are Repealed, Health Plans Would Cover Little
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
[Opinion]
Mar. 24, 2017
"[E]liminating Essential Health Benefit standards could weaken the ACA's core protections even for people with coverage from large employers. The ACA's prohibition on annual and lifetime limits is tied to the definition of Essential Health Benefits. Thus, repeal of Essential Health Benefit standards could make this protection meaningless, putting almost all Americans with private health insurance coverage -- not just those with individual or small-group market coverage -- at risk."
Five Facts About the Essential Health Benefits and American Health Care Act
National Health Law Program [NHeLP]
[Opinion]
Mar. 24, 2017
"The EHBs serve as a minimum coverage standard, and are a critical element of the ACA.... [1] The EHBs are basic services ... [2] EHBs are defined by states and are based on a typical employer plan ... [3] EHBs have closed health care coverage gaps ... [4] EHB services like maternity care are not high cost drivers ... [5] Preventive health services are among the EHBs."
Court Rules No Deferential Review Where Discretionary Authority Was Addressed in SPD But Not in Plan
Thomson Reuters / EBIA
Mar. 24, 2017
"Including discretionary language only in the SPD may not ensure deferential review of plan decisions -- particularly in light of cases emphasizing the supremacy of the formal plan document under ... While it is impossible to gauge whether this denial would have survived deferential review, this decision illustrates some potential pitfalls that can arise from common practices." [Nieves v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, No. 16-768 (D. Ariz. Jan. 17, 2017)]
Use of Electronic Medium to Furnish Participant Notices, Documents and Elections (PDF)
VOYA Financial
Mar. 24, 2017
"In this age of electronic communication the ability to deliver participant documents, notices, consents and election options through electronic medium can be a great convenience and cost savings to plan sponsors. Both the Treasury and the DOL recognize this and each has its own regulation for use of electronic media.... The document, notice, election or consent will be treated as provided in writing if all the requirements of the appropriate regulation are met."
How Skillful RMD Planning Can Sustain Retirement Portfolios
Financial Planning
Mar. 24, 2017
"[T]he mathematics of the RMD virtually guarantee that a portfolio cannot be liquidated within 45 years. The required minimum withdrawal may be inadequate to meet the needs of the retiree in the later years, but that is a different matter. On the other hand, the stipulated RMD may be more than the retiree needs to spend that year, so the excess above their needs can be reinvested into a taxable investment account -- or simply stuffed in a mattress!"
Calculation of the CEO Pay Ratio Can Be Greatly Simplified
Willis Towers Watson
[Opinion]
Mar. 24, 2017
"Narrow the definition of 'employee' and 'employee of the registrant.' ... Clarify that prior-year data can be used to identify the median employee.... Clarify that companies can use base pay as a consistently applied compensation measure (CACM).... Make clear that the disclosure can be a 'reasonable estimate.' ... Allow registrants to use readily accessible records to determine employee classifications.... Permit broader use of 'reasonable estimates' as part of statistical sampling to greatly reduce the effort required for companies with global workforces."
2015 Commercial Health Insurance: Overview of Financial Results
Milliman
Mar. 23, 2017
"This report provides an overview of health insurer financial results in 2015 and evaluates changes in the health insurance industry's expense structure and enrollment relative to prior years. It also explores impacts to the insurance markets from the insurance marketplaces and the [ACA] 3R programs. In addition, the report reviews marketplace enrollment and associated subsidies from 2014 through 2016 in the context of the aggregate individual health insurance market."
Text of Comment Letters to SEC on Reconsideration of Pay Ratio Disclosure Implementation
Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC]
[Opinion]
Mar. 23, 2017
These letters have been submitted to SEC, in response to the Acting Chairman's request for public input on any unexpected challenges that issuers have experienced as they prepare for compliance with the rule and whether relief is needed. Deadline for submission of comments is March 23, 2017.

<< Older News   |  March 25, 2017


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