Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

July 26, 2017

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Webcasts and Conferences

EPCRS Case Studies
August 3, 2017 WEBCAST
ftwilliam.com

Thoroughbred ESOP Conference
August 9, 2017 in KY
ESOP Association

Top 10 FMLA Policy Mistakes: How to Avoid the Most Hazardous Compliance Tripwires
August 16, 2017 WEBCAST
HRTrainingCenter.com

Cybersecurity: Data and Asset Protection Duties of ERISA Fiduciaries
September 7, 2017 WEBCAST
American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB]

Large Versus Small DB Plans: A Comparison for DB Practitioners
November 29, 2017 WEBCAST
ASPPA College of Pension Actuaries [ACOPA]

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[Guidance Overview]

Washington State Enacts Paid Family Leave Program
"[T][he state insurance program will provide private-sector employees up to 12 weeks of income for leave related to childbirth, a child's adoption, a relative's illness, or an employee's own health condition.... The new law also requires employers to hold the employee's job open, regardless the size of the business, until he or she returns from leave. The employer may, however, hire a temporary worker to substitute for the employee on family or medical leave."
Hunton & Williams LLP

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Join us for a review of the various EPCRS programs and walk through real world correction situations we have encountered at Technical Answer Group. Register here for this FREE webinar and earn 1 hr CE credit. Date: Thurs. Aug. 3, 2017 Time: 1 pm (CT)


District Court Halts Challenges to ACA Final Rule Involving Gender Identity
"[HHS] has been granted a stay on proceedings involving a final rule it issued pursuant to the [ACA] that prohibits discrimination on the basis of 'gender identity' and 'termination of pregnancy.' Staying the case and resuming consideration of all pending motions when HHS completes reconsideration of the rule will promote judicial efficiency and impose no undue prejudice on the plaintiffs, a federal district court in Texas ruled." [Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Price, No. 16-108 (N.D. Tex. July 10, 2017)]
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Know What You Need to Select a Benefits Administration Partner
"Technology has emerged as a key differentiator between vendors amid the digital transformation of benefits processes and the growing sophistication of decision-support tools available to help employees make benefits decisions.... [B]enefits platforms should be evaluated based on: [1] Their ability to adapt and scale to new offerings. [2] How well they automate workflows for administrators. [3] The presence of engaging decision-support features."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

2018 Open Enrollment Checklist (PDF)
9 pages. "Confirm that your plan's out-of-pocket maximum complies with the ACA's limits for 2018. For HDHPs, confirm that the plan's deductible and out-of-pocket maximum comply with the 2018 limits. Communicate any plan design changes to employees as part of the open enrollment process.... [Remember to provide the] Annual CHIP notice; Medicare Part D creditable coverage notice; Notice of grandfathered status (if applicable); Annual notice regarding coverage requirements for mastectomy-related benefits (WHCRA notice."
Cowden Associates, Inc.

Paid Parental Leave May Be the Idea That Transcends Politics
"In its 2018 budget, the Trump administration included a national paid leave plan for parents after the birth or adoption of a child. It's a rare call for a new entitlement program from the administration and not yet been endorsed by GOP leaders on Capitol Hill.... Opponents of such government programs don't dispute the benefits of paid leave. Instead, they argue, it's best left as a voluntary choice by businesses, which can tailor their policies to the needs of their workforces."
Kaiser Health News

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Advisory Body Calls for HHS to Rescind Plan Identifier Rule
"Testimony at the most recent hearing 'overwhelmingly affirmed that there is no longer an industry need for the HPID in the HIPAA standard transaction sets,' according to the letter from [National Committee in Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS)] Chair William Stead. 'Testifiers concurred that the transaction routing challenges of two decades ago have been resolved by the industry and that implementation of the HPID would be disruptive, costly, and counterproductive to administrative simplification.' "
HRDailyAdvisor

GOP Overcomes Procedural Hurdle on Health Care Reform
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan was to convince senators to open debate on the bill, which would require 50 votes, without the full text of the bill being known. That vote would technically be to bring up the House version of the bill, but senators would then be able to make amendments to completely change the bill. One of those amendments would make the bill a plan to repeal the [ACA], which the Senate passed in 2015 only to have it vetoed by then-President Obama."
Courthouse News Service

[Opinion]

Universal Health Coverage? Why?
"[T]he runaway cost and compromised quality of our present health care system are symptoms of a deeper diagnosis: powerful perverse incentives. Policy keeps missing the diagnosis and treating the symptoms.... [U]ntil those incentives are corrected, all the thousands of time-consuming, well-meant policies, studies, and recommendations, past and present, to lower cost and raise quality are just so much omnibus tinkering, mere symptom-curing missing the fundamental underlying cause."
Walter McClure, Alain Enthoven, and Tim McDonald, in Health Affairs

[Opinion]

Myth vs. Fact: What's Behind Drug Prices
"Drugmakers say they set high prices that reflect the cost of researching and developing medicines. Fact: High prices have little or nothing to do with drugs' innovation or efficacy for patients.... [Further, pricing] is based on what already exists, and competitors use shadow pricing to drive each other's prices higher.... Drug companies argue high prices are needed to fuel innovation. Fact: Instead of promoting true medical advances, a common business strategy in the pharmaceutical sector is to buy the rights to older drugs and then immediately jack up the prices.... [Further, the] numbers keep telling a different story."
America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP]

[Opinion]

Extending Marketplace Tax Credits Would Make Coverage More Affordable for Middle-Income Adults
"Extending tax-credit eligibility increases insurance enrollment by 1.2 million, at a total federal cost of $6.0 billion. Those who would benefit from the tax-credit extension are mostly middle-income adults ages 50 to 64. These new enrollees would be healthier than current enrollees their age, which would improve the risk pool and lower premiums. Eliminating the cliff at 400 percent of the federal poverty level is one policy option that may be considered to increase affordability of insurance."
The Commonwealth Fund

Benefits in General

Benefits Communication: Find the Right Channels, Frequencies and Messages
"Nearly eight in ten employees are in the wrong benefit plan for them. Roughly three out of four believe their plan options are not personally relevant. And only 20 percent of employees feel their employer communicates benefits effectively. This is a potential recipe for disaster in terms of employee satisfaction and productivity. In order for your benefits program to inspire loyalty and generate ROI, your employees need to understand and appreciate the value it provides. So, how do you do this?"
Benefitfocus

Press Releases

Manager of Health Care Network to Reimburse Plans for Fees
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

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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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