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Webcasts and Conferences

Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs) Webcast
May 18, 2017 WEBCAST

Form 5500 For Welfare Plans: Part 1
May 23, 2017 WEBCAST
FIS Relius Education

Form 5500 For Welfare Plans: Part 2
May 24, 2017 WEBCAST
FIS Relius Education

Make the Most of Your Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits
May 24, 2017 WEBCAST
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

2017 Western Benefits Conference
July 9, 2017 in CA
ASPPA [American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries]

Employer-Health System Direct Contracting and Partnerships Strategies Summit
July 25, 2017 in MA
World Congress

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Funding Bill Prohibits Full Risk Corridor Payments, Omits Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments
"Like the 2015 and 2016 appropriations bills, the legislation prohibits [HHS] from paying out more in risk corridor payments to health insurers that have excess losses in the marketplaces than it collects from health insurers that make excess profits.... [As] it did last year, the appropriations bill removes all funding for the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).... The bill does not include a provision for payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions for low-income marketplace enrollees."
Timothy Jost in Health Affairs


Register Today and Save -- Trustees and Administrators Institutes

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Register by May 15 to save $300. Attend the Trustees and Administrators Institutes to receive timely, relevant and balanced education on the issues that face the benefits industry including the opioid crisis, the future of ACA and DOL audits.

Health Bill Remains In Limbo, GOP Still Divided
"Hopes for a revamped Obamacare bill veered from optimistic to doubtful in a matter of hours yesterday as the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress scrambled to build support for the massive health care legislation.... CNN reported last night that 21 Republicans have now gone on record opposing the Obamacare replacement bill. If a total of 23 GOPers reject the legislation, it will fail to reach the necessary 216 votes. Some 13 Republican lawmakers were still undecided."

Deal Reached to Fund Health Benefits for Retired Miners
"Days before 22,000 retired miners and their dependents are scheduled to start losing health benefits, members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have agreed on a funding source that would continue health coverage. 'This is a permanent fix, it isn't another kick-the-can-down-the-road temporary fix,' said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.... Past funding plans had relied on using untapped money from Abandoned Mine Lands funds to pay for pensions and health coverage. But Manchin said lawmakers from Wyoming were against that plan. Instead, customs fees charged on goods entering the country will be used to fund health benefits[.]"
The State Journal

38% of Organizations Offer Employees a Separate Paid Parental Leave Benefit
"38% of employers offer a defined paid parental leave benefit for use by new-parent employees to recover from the birth of a child and/or to care for or bond with a new child. This leave is distinct from all other paid leave programs and employees do not need to use or exhaust other paid time or earnings to use this benefit. The average time of paid parental leave allotted to eligible, full-time new-parent employees is 4.1 weeks.... 86% of respondents, offer employer-sponsored disability insurance that compensates birth mothers during their medical recovery."

Just Like the Flu, Paid Sick Leave Laws Don't Seem to Want to Go Away
"Earlier this month, the Nevada Senate approved a bill for three paid sick days yearly.... Similarly, in the last month the Maryland House of Delegates approved a sick leave bill previously passed by the Maryland Senate which has now been sent to the governor for approval.... Arizona, St. Paul (Minnesota), Minneapolis (Minnesota), Cook County (Illinois) and Chicago (Illinois) have paid sick leave laws scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017. Los Angeles, California's paid sick leave law went into effect last year for larger employers but smaller employers received a delay to comply until July 1, 2017. Berkeley, California's paid sick time leave accrual provisions go into effect on October 1, 2017. Washington state's paid sick leave accrual and entitlement provisions begin on January 1, 2018."
Snell & Wilmer


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Employers in Education, Manufacturing and Retail Taking on Greater Share of Premiums for HDHPs
"Fifty-one percent of [healthcare industry] employers offered an HDHP in addition to traditional plans, up from 37 percent in 2016 ... The manufacturing industry leads in the rate of HDHP offerings (61 percent) Employee-paid premiums for individual-coverage HDHPs fell 9 percent, while employer premiums went up 11 percent ... Thirty-nine percent of [retail industry] employees elected at least one of three income protection benefits, and 11 percent elected all three--year-over-year increases of 77 and 1,000 percent, respectively."

Insurers' Dark Secret: Shared Savings and Facility R&C
"Some questions self-funded employers should be asking about how their claims are handled: [1] What percentage of the savings is my insurer taking as its fee? [2] Is there any dollar cap on this fee or does the insurer continue to make more as the billed charges move further away from their starting point? [3] Is the member paying cost-share on the insurer's fee and if not does the employer actually save money on a net basis? [4] What incentive does the insurer have to combat fraudulent and abusive charges when they are getting paid on the savings from these bills?"
Frenkel Benefits

TIGTA Report Evaluates IRS Preparedness to Enforce ACA Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions
"The TIGTA report affirms that proposed IRS [Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP)] notices should be expected in the coming months for the 2015 reporting year.... [L]arge employers ... should prepare to analyze and respond ... Proposed ESRP notices for 2016 should also be expected later this year, although timing remains uncertain. These proposed notices are expected to identify employees who received federally subsidized health coverage through a state Marketplace."

Financial Performance of Health Insurers: State-Run Versus Federal-Run Exchanges
"Researchers compared health insurers' profitability in 2013 and 2014, the years before and after the introduction of the [ACA] insurance marketplaces. The median loss for insurers overall in both years was 4 percent. Insurers performed better in states that operated their own health insurance marketplaces than in states that used the federal marketplace, with the difference largely driven by medical loss ratios."
The Commonwealth Fund

Business Groups Urge Administration to Accelerate Market-Based Health Care Reforms
"A national partnership led by two business organizations representing Fortune 500 companies, the Pacific Business Group on Health and The ERISA Industry Committee, announced today the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign to accelerate economic growth by controlling health costs and improving quality through the rapid adoption of value-based health care.... The Initiative's policy blueprint, found on its website, urges immediate targeted deregulation and other actions to break down policy barriers that discourage value-based care innovation and prevent the health care market from delivering valuable products at affordable costs."
The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC]


Five Facts About the Essential Health Benefits and American Health Care Act (PDF)
"The latest amendment allows states to waive the EHB requirement for private health insurance plans.... EHBs are essential to providing a base level of coverage for individuals and families. [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."
National Health Law Program [NHeLP]


House Health Care Bill Moving in the Right Direction
"[An amendment proposed by] Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J.... would allow states to ... secure waivers from Obamacare's costly 'essential health benefits' requirement (the mandatory 10 categories of health benefits).... [T]he waivers would be virtually automatic.... Federal control over state health insurance markets has been a costly experiment.... These cost explosions have undercut competition and choice not only in the Obamacare exchanges, but also in off-exchange markets."
The Heritage Foundation


An Insurance CEO Explains the Dangerous Game Trump Is Playing with Obamacare
"Many people in the insurance industry believe that if the government doesn't fund this and doesn't pay the insurance plans, that they will have breached their contract with the insurance plans, and this could result in millions of Americans losing their insurance coverage this year.... The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that, without these cost-sharing reductions, premiums will rise by an average of about 20 percent."
The Huffington Post


Effective Prohibition of Preexisting Condition Exclusions Requires Additional Measures
"[P]rohibitions on preexisting condition exclusions alone are insufficient to protect those with health problems and ensure their affordable access to necessary care. Meaningful protections require a package of policies: guaranteed issue of all insurance products, essential health benefit requirements, modified community rating, cost-sharing standards, plus prohibitions on preexisting condition exclusions. Policy proposals that maintain the prohibition on preexisting condition exclusions without the other protections are providing an empty promise to those with health problems and those who may suffer a health problem in the future."
Linda Blumberg and John Holahan, in Health Affairs

Benefits in General

Five Ways to Motivate Millennials Through Employee Communication
Infographic. "Millennials make up close to 40% of the United States workforce. However, less than one-third of them are engaged at work. Encouraging Millennials to take action concerning their employee benefits can be a difficult task. Fortunately, there are several communication tactics organizations can use to motivate even the most uninterested Millennial."
Milliman Retirement Town Hall

When All Is Said and Done, Will Tax Reform Spare Employee Benefits?
"While the president's plan is silent on the tax treatment of health care premiums, it does call for ... the elimination of the ACA's 3.8 percent net income investment tax, which applies to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly.... [That] tax hits small business owners hard, since their business earnings are often treated as personal income, and is a drag on economic growth."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

Press Releases

Kenneth Raskin Elected to Chair the PSCA Board
PSCA [Plan Sponsor Council of America]

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2017, 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, 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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