Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 6, 2017

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[Official Guidance]

Text of Agency Interim Final Rule and Comment Request: Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the ACA
100 pages. "These interim final rules expand exemptions to protect moral convictions for certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive overage through guidance issued pursuant to the [ACA]. These rules do not alter the discretion of the Health Resources and Services Administration, a component of [HHS], to maintain the guidelines requiring contraceptive coverage where no regulatorily recognized objection exists. These rules also provide certain morally objecting entities access to the voluntary 'accommodation' process regarding such coverage....These interim final rules are effective on October 6, 2017.... Written comments on these interim final rules are invited and must be received by December 5, 2017."
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service [IRS]; Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Advert.]

New York State Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFL)

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Oct. 25 webinar. Covers employers and employees to whom the PFL applies, qualifying circumstances and events for PFL benefits, and how the PFL interacts with other leave laws. Discount for BenefitsLink readers.


[Official Guidance]

Text of Agency Interim Final Rule and Comment Request: Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the ACA
163 pages. "These interim final rules expand exemptions to protect religious beliefs for certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the [ACA].... These rules also leave the 'accommodation' process in place as an optional process for certain exempt entities that wish to use it voluntarily.... These interim final rules and temporary regulations are effective on October 6, 2017.... Written comments on these interim final rules are invited and must be received by December 5, 2017."
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service [IRS]; Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Bulletin Addressing Enforcement of ACA Section 1303, Coverage of Certain Abortion Services by Qualified Health Plans (PDF)
"Issuers must be able to demonstrate compliance with the following: [1] Issuers may not seek premium tax credit payments for coverage of non-Hyde abortion services. [2] Issuers may not seek reimbursement for CSRs for non-Hyde abortion services. [3] Issuers must provide an annual notice in the summary of benefits and coverage that describes whether non-Hyde abortion services are covered by the QHP. [4] Issuers must charge and collect no less than $1 per enrollee per month for coverage of non-Hyde abortion services, and deposit such amounts collected into a separate allocation account that is used exclusively to cover non-Hyde abortions.... [I]ssuers should provide enrollees with notice stating that a portion of the total premium amount owed is a separate payment for non-Hyde abortion services ... Where we are charged with directly enforcing these statutory requirements in the FFEs, we intend to do so fully, beginning with the 2018 plan year and later years, and call upon States that operate their own Exchanges to do so as well." [Unnumbered document, Oct. 6, 2017]
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

Trump Administration Set to Roll Back Birth Control Mandate
"Employers claiming an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate 'do not need to file notices or certifications' with the government, although they would need to inform employees of changes in coverage. The exemption will be available to for-profit companies, whether they are owned by one family or thousands of shareholders. The Trump administration said the new rules would take effect immediately because 'it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest to engage in full notice and comment rule-making.' Still, it said, it will accept comments from the public."
The New York Times; subscription may be required

IRS Releases 2017 Final Forms 1094/1095-C and Instructions
"The absence of major changes for the 2017 tax year will be welcome news for those responsible for preparing and filing these forms. So far, there's no indication that the IRS will extend the deadlines, which come quickly after year-end, so ALEs should have a strategy in place to collect and organize the required information--and be prepared to request extensions if necessary."
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

[Advert.]

Online Learning Course: HSA and HRA Basics

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

This e-learning course will provide an in-depth look at HSA and HRA programs as well as how these programs interact with an HCFSA.


Calendar Year Plans Must Implement New SBC Requirements During This Year's Open Enrollment
"Several key enhancements have been made to the SBC template and uniform glossary for the 2018 plan year. The improvements include an additional coverage example and language and terms to improve consumers' understanding of their health coverage. In addition, changes have been made to the SBC template that will improve readability for consumers."
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Communication Planning 12+ Weeks Before Open Enrollment
"[T]his is a complicated time to start any benefit-specific communications, because ... the finalization of your benefit package can sometimes come down to the wire. While details are still firming up, this is a good time to push out some general communication and get started on some of the more complex and robust materials you'll be communicating in the coming weeks."
Grooms Benefit Solutions

Can HSA Contributions Continue After an Employee Ceases to Be HSA-Eligible?
"HSA contributions for a partial year of HSA eligibility ... can be made at any time from the first day of the year until the individual's federal tax return due date, without extensions, for that year.... Thus, your cafeteria plan could be amended to allow participating employees to continue making HSA contributions through the end of the year in which they lose (or appear to lose) their HSA eligibility, or until they reach their contribution limit for the partial year of eligibility, whichever happens first."
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Association Health Plans: A Favorite GOP Approach to Coverage Poised for Comeback
"Under association health plans, small businesses can join associations -- based on certain types of professional, trade or interest groups -- that offer insurance to members. Republicans for decades have favored such arrangements, seeing them as a way for small groups to get more clout with insurers.... GOP lawmakers this year tried, but failed, to pass legislation that would create new federally certified associations that could be sold across state lines with reduced state oversight. Even so, these plans have always been controversial."
Kaiser Health News

HHS Withdraws Proposed Regs Requiring Health Plans to Certify HIPAA Compliance
"Withdrawal of the proposed regulations indicates that HHS has decided to go back to the drawing board -- and also takes some pressure off of HHS to make a decision on health plan identifiers (HPIDs), which, among other uses, were going to be used to identify health plans submitting compliance certifications."
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Considerations for Policymakers in the Design of Paid Family and Medical Leave Systems
"[T]he main choices are between a social insurance approach and an employer mandate ... Most state programs currently in place, and most programs in advanced economies around the world, have been structured as social insurance programs.... One policy consideration that must be weighed is whether or not to allow employers, or employees, to opt out of a paid leave program.... [A]nother consideration, particularly in a social insurance structure funded exclusively by employees, is whether or not to include an employee opt-out provision."
National Academy of Social Insurance [NASI]

[Opinion]

Municipality Sues Over Drug Cost Increase: $40 Vial Now Costs $35,000
"The City of Rockford, IL ... [has] sued drug manufacturer Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals over the cost of its drug, H.P. Acthar.... The drug is recently reported to cost $35,000 per vial, but cost only $40 in 2001. Rockford, which spent almost $500,000 on the drug in 2015, is alleging that Mallinckrodt, which obtained Acthar through an acquisition, engaged in monopolistic sales practices by purchasing a competing manufacturer and then jacking costs up. And the suit may have some legs since this cost increase is simply unconscionable."
Frenkel Benefits

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Hurricane Survival Guide for Employee Benefit Plans and Employers (PDF)
"The IRS extended the deadline for certain disaster-area plan sponsors to file their annual returns for employee benefit plans. The DOL also relaxed its enforcement of certain contribution and election deadlines for disaster-area health plans and defined contribution plans. The IRS relaxed the defined contribution plan rules for loans and in-service hardship distributions for certain disaster-area participants. The PBGC extended minimum contributions and premium payments for disaster-area defined benefit plans, but some PBGC filings will not be extended automatically.... [T]he IRS will allow employees to make tax-free leave donations for disaster relief and allow employers to make tax-free disaster relief payments to employees."
McDermott Will & Emery, via Bloomberg Law Pension & Benefits Daily

ERISA Advisory Council to Meet November 7-8
"[An] open meeting of the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (also known as the ERISA Advisory Council) will be held on November 7-8, 2017.... The purpose of the open meeting on November 7 and the morning of November 8 is for the Advisory Council members to finalize the recommendations they will present to the Secretary. At the November 8 afternoon session, the Council members will receive an update from leadership of [EBSA] and present their recommendations."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

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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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