Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 31, 2016

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Leave of Absence Specialist - Human Resources
Memorial Healthcare System
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in MD

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[Guidance Overview]

New Rule on Excepted Benefits, Short-Term Coverage, FAQs on Mental Health and Substance Use
"The final rule adopts essentially unchanged the portions of the proposed rule it covers. However, two of the topics addressed by the proposed rule -- group fixed dollar indemnity coverage and expatriate plans -- are not being finalized at this time. The final regulations also do not address specified disease policies (such as cancer policies), a topic on which the departments had requested comment in the notice of proposed rulemaking."
Timothy Jost, in Health Affairs

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How to Avoid Being the Next OCR Target for a HIPAA Civil Monetary Penalty
"The most frequent violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act regulations are not hacking! They are: [1] Lost/stolen laptops, mobile devices, paper medical records, thumb drives; [2] No security risk assessment or assessment not enterprise-wide; [3] No or outdated Business Associate Agreement; [4] Improper disclosure of PHI."
Bryan Cave LLP

It's Open Enrollment: Have You Taken a Good Look at an HSA?
"[M]any HSA owners fail to take maximum advantage of their HSAs. More affluent employees, in particular, are foregoing valuable tax benefits by not steering their HSA balances toward long-term investments. And even employees who are using a 'spend as they go' approach to their HSAs should consider using the accounts to take advantage of the tax breaks."
Morningstar

Wellness Program Rules: Challenged and Challenging
"The AARP lawsuit is notably different from other pending suits involving wellness programs. [1] AARP is a special interest group suing the EEOC; an employer is not a party to the suit.... [2] The litigation ... questions the validity of the maximum allowable incentive rules under the ADA or GINA.... [3] [T]he focus is not on protected health information (PHI) and the privacy provisions of [HIPAA]. The basis for the lawsuit is that a disproportionate number of older workers have health issues or disabilities and that these permitted incentives pressure employees to divulge confidential health information about themselves or their spouses."
Xerox HR

Presidential 'Parity' Panel Offers Steps to Treat Mental Illness Like Other Diseases
"[T]he task force received 1,161 public comments ... [CMS] is awarding $9.3 million to states to help enforce parity protections.... A new government website will help consumers identify the right agency to assist with their parity complaints and appeals. A newly released consumer guide will help patients, families and providers understand their rights and look into whether they have experienced a parity violation. The [DOL] will report each year on its investigations into parity violations. In addition, the task force recommended that the government increase its capacity to audit health plans for parity compliance and allow the DOL to assess civil monetary penalties for violations."
Kaiser Health News

Three Things on Employers' Health Care Reform Wish List
"[1] Repealing the Cadillac Tax and preserving the exclusion ... [2] Allowing employers to offer incentives for wellness plans ... [3] Reduce complex and costly regulations."
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Universal Health Care Coming to Colorado?
"Amendment 69 would establish ColoradoCare, an entity that would administer a health care system for all people whose primary residence is in the state.... The amendment calls for employers and workers to finance the estimated $25 billion annual cost of the program through a 10 percent payroll tax. Employers would pay 6.67 percent and employees would pay 3.33 percent up to a certain cap. With some exceptions, nonpayroll earnings, such as pension payments and rental property income, would also be taxed at 10 percent."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

Benefits in General

SEC Comment Letter Trends: Pension and Other Postretirement Benefits (PDF)
13 pages. "This publication includes an analysis of comments made by the SEC staff to registrants published on the SEC's website between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 related to pensions and postretirement benefits other than pensions (OPEB).... 70% of the comments received related to Form 10-K filings. When evaluated by section of the filing, 58% of the total number of comments received related to the financial statements. When evaluated by topical area, 34% of the comments related to disclosure and 17% related to assumptions."
PricewaterhouseCoopers

Executive Compensation and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

Share Withholding at Maximum Tax Rate
"Many existing equity compensation plans specifically limit share withholding to the minimum statutory tax rates in order to avoid potentially negative accounting consequences, i.e., liability accounting instead of fixed, grant-date accounting for equity awards. So the question has been raised whether amending an existing equity plan that limits share withholding to the minimum statutory tax rate would pose an issue under the exchanges rules. NYSE and NASDAQ have now both issued guidance on this issue which should help companies as they consider adopting ASU 2016-09 and implementing maximum share withholding."
EdwardHauder.com

Will New SEC Guidance Make It Easier to Calculate Your CEO Pay Ratio?
"The new guidance ... covers five issues: [1] How to define a consistently applied compensation measure (CACM) to identify the median employee; [2] Whether and to what extent hourly or annual pay rates can be used as a CACM; [3] What time periods can be used in calculating compensation using a CACM; [4] How to treat furloughed employees and a reminder that seasonal and temporary workers cannot have pay annualized; [5] How a company should determine if a contractor or third-party service provider's workers are included or excluded from the employee population."
Willis Towers Watson

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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
Holly Horton, Business Manager  hollyhorton@benefitslink.com

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2016 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 that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

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