Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

July 5, 2017

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[Guidance Overview]

Arizona Issues 18 New Pages of Paid Sick Leave FAQs: Highlights for Employers
"Some of the FAQs merely restate the draft regulations, while others provide useful examples helping to give color to draft supplemental regulations recently issued. These include examples of how to calculate 'same hourly rate' for various employee groups and notations that a commissioned employee's acknowledgement of a handbook policy, setting forth the hourly rate, is sufficient to set the 'same hourly rate.' Still other FAQs answer questions you never knew you had -- including whether employees may take paid sick leave (PSL) to care for their service animals when they're sick. Spoiler alert: The ICA says 'no.' "
Ogletree Deakins

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Form 5500 Filing Reminder
"[T]he filing date for Form 5500 for calendar year employee benefit plans -- July 31 -- is fast approaching.... [E]mployee assistance plans (EAPs) and wellness plans ... may be determined to be subject to the requirements of ERISA, including the reporting requirements. A review of the particular characteristics and operations of these types of arrangements may be warranted to ensure that the Form 5500 is timely filed and to eliminate the risk of significantly higher ERISA penalties associated with a delinquent Form 5500."
PKF O'Connor Davies

11th Circuit Reminds Employers: Proceed Cautiously When Terminating Employees Shortly After FMLA Leave
"While employees who have recently taken leave may be terminated for legitimate reasons, establishing a non-retaliatory termination can be challenging. The timing of the termination alone can support causation, and even a well thought-out and justified termination may raise issues of fact that would prevent quick resolution in court." [Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care of Delaware, LLC, No. 16-11142 (11th Cir. Apr. 19, 2017)]
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Even Absent a Mandate, Workplace Health Benefits Are Here to Stay
"Employers have offered health care benefits in growing numbers since World War II, and the share of individuals insured by employer-sponsored coverage continued to grow before the ACA was passed ... While the Senate and House bills would effectively end the employer mandate, that doesn't mean employers would jump to drop their coverage altogether -- but many might pare back employee eligibility."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

Congress Moves to Stop IRS from Enforcing Health Law Mandate
"[T]he House Committee on Appropriations has drafted a provision to stop the IRS from enforcing the mandate. The restrictions, for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, are included in an appropriations bill that was approved on [Thursday, June 29] by the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government."
The New York Times; subscription may be required

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Tax Breaks Promised In GOP Healthcare Plans Go Mostly To Top 1%
"[B]oth the House and the Senate plan would change or eliminate more than a dozen taxes that were levied to help pay for the [ACA's] insurance subsidies and to bolster Medicare and expand Medicaid. Republicans and other ACA critics have argued the taxes are onerous on businesses and families. The [CBO] estimated that the Senate proposal would result in $700 billion in lost revenue from the federal Treasury over the next 10 years."
Kaiser Health News

[Opinion]

Perhaps Employees Just Don't Want HSAs
"People don't like high-deductible health plans.... When we consider that a typical employee's paycheck is already being 'raided' by federal income taxes, state income taxes, FICA taxes, health benefit costs, 401(k) deferrals, and other benefit costs, there may not be enough left over for the day-to-day costs of living let alone HSA deferrals.... If participation in an HDHP is an entrance requirement, your average participant just doesn't care about the possible benefits of a health savings account."
Benefits and Compensation with John Lowell

Benefits in General

Law Firm Can't Escape Malpractice Claim Over ERISA Advice
"There are issues of fact on whether the law firm failed in its duty of care in providing legal advice as well as issues related to causation and damages, Judge George Caram Steeh of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan held June 30.... SSL Assets alleged that Jaffe provided faulty legal advice that ultimately made the investment firm liable for $3.9 million in withdrawal liability under [ERISA] and made it invest several millions in supporting a newly acquired company." [Cohen v. Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, P.C., No. 16-11484 (E.D. Mich. June 30, 2017)]
Bloomberg BNA

Retirement, College, and Health Savings Activity Expanding in the U.S.
"Employees under age 25 represent just nine percent of savers on Ascensus' platform. But ... the average 401(k) account balances of savers ages 25-34 nearly double that of their under 25 cohorts.... HSA owners under age 25 and ages 25-34 represented 20% of all HSAs on the Ascensus platform in 2016.... In 2016, 37 percent of HSA market growth was attributed to high deductible health plans offered by employers. Additionally, 46% of all dollars contributed to an HSA came from an employer."
Ascensus

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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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