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May 26, 2017 logo logo
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Benefits Paralegal
Kaufman & Canoles, P.C.
in VA

Retirement Plan Administrator
TDM Retirement Services
in MI

Customer Service Specialist
RPG Consultants
in NY, Telecommute

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Webcasts and Conferences

When To Wait, Hold, Or Sell: A Wealth Manager Reveals His Wisdom On Stock Option Exercise Strategy

DOL Investigations of Employee Benefit Plans: Navigating Enforcement Actions, Audits and Settlements
June 6, 2017 WEBCAST

Eureka! A Next Generation Retirement Plan Design
June 20, 2017 WEBCAST
Findley Davies, Inc.

Best Practices for an Effective Retirement Plan Committee
June 21, 2017 WEBCAST
University Conference Services

Tips From a Retirement Plan Auditorís Perspective
June 21, 2017 in TX
ASPPA Benefits Council [ABC] of Dallas/Fort Worth

HIPAA / HITECH Update for Health Plan Sponsors and their Business Associates
July 11, 2017 in MI
Miller Johnson

HIPAA / HITECH Update for Health Plan Sponsors and their Business Associates
July 13, 2017 in MI
Miller Johnson

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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Memo Rejects Purported Favorable Tax Treatment of Wellness Payments
"In addition to refuting the 'too good to be true' tax claims, [CCM 201719025] clarifies the IRS's position on tax treatment of payments from fixed indemnity plans ... A recent CCA had suggested that, where premiums for fixed indemnity insurance are paid pre-tax, the benefits are taxable, regardless of the amount or type of medical expenses that triggered the payment ... This CCA acknowledges prior guidance stating that fixed indemnity payments attributable to pre-tax contributions will be taxable only to the extent that they exceed otherwise unreimbursed medical expenses."
Thomson Reuters / EBIA


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Paid Family Leave in the United States
"California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have already adopted their own programs, and next year paid family leave will be provided in New York.... Under the president's proposal, states would be allowed to design the paid leave program for their own jurisdictions as long as the benefits meet minimum standards.... Although the funding methods for paid family leave have not yet been specified ... mechanisms could vary from state to state, and the options may include funding through general tax revenues, a specific new tax, employer-paid premiums, or employee-paid premiums."

The Burgeoning 'Yelpification' of Health Care: Consumers Hold a Scale and a Mirror to the Health Care System
"Over the years, a slew of tools have developed to help patients with their health care decisions.... Yet, what is drawing in patients is Yelp -- the website widely known for consumer-driven restaurant reviews.... [A recent] study found that higher Yelp ratings are correlated with better-quality hospitals and can offer consumers a useful, clear, and reliable tool that can be easily accessed.... But while this research has helped to move the needle on validating Yelp as an important asset in the tool chest of health care quality tools, there are still important questions left unanswered."
Health Affairs

The American Health Care Act: Details on the ACA Repeal and Replace Bill (PDF)
27 presentation slides. "AHCA would repeal pay or play entirely, significantly simplify the reporting requirements, plus provide a lengthy Cadillac tax delay to 2026.... The HSA contribution limit would nearly double, up to over $13,000 for family coverage. There may also be a push in the Senate to permit utilization of HSA for premiums. These shifts will require employers to place a renewed emphasis on their HDHP offerings for 2018. Be prepared to consider adding HDHP options if you don't already!"
ABD Insurance & Financial Services

American Health Care Act: What's the Impact on Employers?
"[M]uch of the AHCA does not impact the group market. However, there are a number of changes called for under the bill, which are mainly viewed as positive changes by the employer community. These changes include, but are not limited to: Repeal of the employer mandate penalty ... Repeal of the industry excise taxes ... Cadillac Tax delay."


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CBO-Derived Coverage Losses by State and Congressional District
"[B]ased on the CBO's projections, [by] 2026, on average, about 53,000 fewer people will have coverage in each congressional district. [A table] provides estimates by state, and a spreadsheet of estimates by state and district can be downloaded [at the linked page]."
Center for American Progress

Proposed Legislation Focuses on Counties with No ACA Marketplace Insurers
"The Alexander/Corker Health Care Options Act (HCOA) would provide that if no qualified health plans were offered through an exchange in a rating area or county, the Secretary of [HHS] would certify that this was the case. The individual responsibility requirement would then not apply in such counties.... On May 22, 2017, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced legislation that would ... require HHS, together with Treasury and [OPM], to establish, within three months of the date of enactment, a mechanism to allow individuals from bare counties to purchase premium tax credit-subsidized coverage through the District of Columbia SHOP[.]"
Timothy Jost in Health Affairs

Repeal of the McCarran Ferguson Act: On-Ramp or Speed Bump on the Highway of Health Care Reform? (PDF)
"The campaign mantra of 'repeal and replace' seems to have overshadowed other potential avenues for reforming U.S. health care policy, including repealing the McCarran Ferguson Act as it applies to health insurance.... [T]he Act grants health insurance companies (and other types of insurers) certain exemptions ... from federal antitrust law enforcement. Recent developments have renewed interest in examining the potential impact of repealing this exemption for health insurers."
Carlton Fields


CBO's Catastrophic Omission
"Without government supervision of insurance minutiae and a mandate to buy coverage or pay a penalty, CBO asserts, 'a few million' people will turn to insurance that falls short of the 'widely accepted definition' of 'a comprehensive major medical policy.' ... [The CBO] analysts never once mention catastrophic coverage -- not once. These types of plans didn't cover routine medical expenses but they did protect consumers against, well, a high-cost medical event like an accident or the diagnosis of a serious illness. Those plans answered what most people want most out of insurance -- financial security and a guarantee that they won't be bankrupted by cancer or a distracted bus driver.... [U]nder the House reform Americans won't have any problem insuring against a bad health event, even if CBO won't admit it."
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Providing Voluntary Separation Agreements to Some Employees Did Not Create an Informal ERISA Severance Plan
"A sales manager sued her former employer following her involuntary termination of employment, asserting that she was entitled to severance benefits because the employer's practice of providing voluntary separation agreements (VSAs) to some departing employees created an informal ERISA plan. But the court ruled in favor of the employer, concluding that, although there was a document outlining the employer's process for executing VSAs, without additional evidence indicating that the employer intended to create an ongoing benefit arrangement the employer's practice and the process document were not enough to create an ERISA plan." [Mance v. Quest Diagnostics Inc., No 12-7361 (D.N.J. Feb. 21, 2017)]
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Press Releases

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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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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