Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 30, 2017

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Small Business Employees Generally Satisfied -- Except for Their Health Benefits (PDF)
"When asked what they think of the health benefits they're currently offered relative to those offered to other small-business employees, only 33 percent of participants reported feeling satisfied, while 20 percent were disappointed. A few respondents -- 3 percent, in fact -- reported feeling angry about their current benefits ... 72 percent of survey participants said that these kinds of improvements would make them a happier employee."
Aflac

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Online Learning Course: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

This course identifies coverage and eligibility requirements of employees and responsibilities of employers, and describes how to avoid common administration mistakes, implement best practices and be aware of interactions with other laws.


Molina Healthcare Investigates Breach of Patients' Data
"Molina Healthcare... has shut down its online patient portal as it investigates a potential data breach that may have exposed sensitive medical information. The company said [May 26] that it closed the online portal for medical claims and other customer information while it examined a 'security vulnerability.' It's not clear how many patient records might have been exposed and for how long. The company has more than 4.8 million customers in 12 states and Puerto Rico."
Kaiser Health News

AHCA Uncertainty Has Some Health IT Startups Drifting Away from Providers
"Smaller digital health startups are pivoting toward consumers because the uncertainty surrounding an ACA repeal has left providers hesitant to invest in new technology ... 'In the end, it will be a scalability issue,' [said] Lee Perlman, president of GNYHA Ventures Inc., the for-profit arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association ... 'If forced to choose between providing basic patient care and new investment, basic patient care will win.' "
FierceHealthcare

Health Plan Payment in U.S. Marketplaces: Regulated Competition with a Weak Mandate
"While the individual market represents a small slice of the U.S. population, it has historically been the market segment with the lowest rates of take-up and greatest concerns about access to robust coverage.... [This paper lays] out in detail how the Marketplaces adopt the tools of regulated competition. [It then discusses] ways in which the Marketplace model deviates from the more conventional model and how those deviations may impact the eventual success or failure of these new markets."
National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER]

CBO Releases Updated Cost Estimate of American Health Care Act of 2017
"The CBO and JCT report indicates that the AHCA impact on employer-sponsored plans will be minimal. Nevertheless, the AHCA may lead to greater flexibility in employer-sponsored benefit design because employers with large group and self-insured plans could design their EHBs package on a state that has waived the ACA's EHBs requirement."
Proskauer's ERISA Practice Center

[Advert.]

How to Survive an ACA Audit

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

June 6 webinar. Ensure that your policies and procedures mitigate audit inquiries from various federal agencies. Documentation and record retention will be the key to minimizing potential penalties. Discount for BenefitsLink readers.


[Opinion]

Four Reasons Why the CBO's AHCA Score Is Flawed
"[1] CBO is assuming 4 million more people starting out with insurance than the actual number.... [2] AHCA's CBO score includes the potential enrollment from the 19 states that 'could' expand their Medicaid rules.... [3] While CBO doesn't actually define what constitutes insurance in the score, they insinuate that some states will cut or reduce the number of essential health benefits and cause out-of-pocket limits to rise. Suffice it to say it's amazing that they can't give us this definition yet count a few million people as uninsured because of this definition.... [4] Finally, the CBO score doesn't tell us who doesn't want to buy insurance. Without a mandate any number of people might simply say no thanks. These people aren't losing insurance, they simply don't want it."
InsureBlog

[Opinion]

American Benefits Council Letter to Sen. Hatch: Policy Proposals to Preserve Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plans
"[1] Address the underlying problems with high health care costs ... [2] Fully repeal the 40 percent 'Cadillac Tax' on employer plans ... [3] Reject new proposals to tax employees' health benefits ... [4] Preserve ERISA's uniform standard for plan administration ... [5] Fully repeal the employer mandate and reduce employer reporting burdens ... [6] Expand the availability and flexibility of consumer-directed plan designs ... [7] Maintain treatment of HIPAA-excepted benefits ... [8] Stabilize the individual market, including reliable funding for the cost-sharing reduction subsidies ... [9] [S]implify the rules for electronic disclosure of any benefits documents employers are required to provide employees."
American Benefits Council

[Opinion]

Efforts to Shore up MassHealth Should Favor Simplicity and Avoid Potential Conflict with Federal Law
"In an effort to make up for a funding shortfall in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Medicaid program, state policymakers have proposed solutions that include a 'play-or-pay' option under which employers who fail to offer major medical coverage ... would be required to pay an additional 'employer contribution' to the Commonwealth based on multiple factors and complex computations.... The 'play-or-pay' option would not only be extremely complicated to comply with and enforce, ... it may be preempted by [ERISA]."
Mintz Levin

[Opinion]

It's Time for 'The Talk' About the Future of Our Health System
"Public opinion is trending toward a single payer or some form of universal coverage. The majority believe healthcare coverage is a fundamental right and the federal government should play a bigger role in its provision, but most do not understand how the system operates nor believe it comprehensible. The majority think health costs are too high but rarely check prices or pursue cheaper courses of treatment. The majority believe the [ACA] is flawed but prefer it be fixed rather than replaced. And while opinions are changing, the right path forward remains unclear to most."
Paul Keckley

Benefits in General

Democrats Introduce Bill to Test Benefits for Gig Workers
"The Portable Benefits Pilot Program Act would create a $20 million Labor Department grant program for states, local governments, and nonprofits to experiment with portable benefits for gig workers.... The federal legislation comes as lawmakers in states including Washington, New York, and New Jersey are considering measures to provide benefits for gig economy workers. It also comes amid calls for the federal government to tweak employment tax and worker classification laws."
Bloomberg BNA

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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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