Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 19, 2017

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Pension Plan Administrator
The Kenneth D. Anderson Company, Inc.
in MA

401k Plan Administrator
Lockheed Martin Corporation
in MD

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Webcasts, Conferences

Strategies to Control Pharmacy Costs
November 2, 2017 in MD
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Baltimore Chapter

Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation: Exploring NQDC Plan Eligibility
October 31, 2017 WEBCAST
Wagner Law Group P.C.

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[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2017-58: 2018 Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Inflation for Certain Items (PDF)
"For taxable years beginning in 2018, [T]he dollar amount in effect under Section 45R(d)(3)(B) is $26,700. This amount is used under Section 45R(c) for limiting the small employer health insurance credit and under Section 45R(d)(1)(B) for determining who is an eligible small employer for purposes of the credit.... [T]he dollar limitation under Section 125(i) on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,650.... [T]he monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(A) regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and any transit pass is $260. The monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(B) regarding the fringe benefit exclusion amount for qualified parking is $260.... [T]he term 'high deductible health plan' as defined in Section 220(c)(2)(A) means, for self-only coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $2,300 and not more than $3,450, and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $4,600 ... [T]he applicable dollar amount used to determine the penalty under Section 5000A(c) for failure to maintain minimum essential coverage is $695."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Advert.]

New York State Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFL)

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

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.


[Guidance Overview]

Is the New Moral Exemption from ACA Contraceptive Coverage a Game Changer?
"By removing the religious element, the agencies have broadened the potential pool of employers that could be exempt from the ACA's rules. The new regulations do not describe any process that a privately held company would have to go through to qualify for the exemption or give any examples of the type of moral convictions that the regulations are designed to accommodate.... The American Civil Liberties Union, the California Attorney General, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have all filed legal challenges."
Ogletree Deakins

[Guidance Overview]

New York City Council Expands Earned Sick Time Law to Include Safe Time
"While the Earned Sick Time Act continues to be refined by administrative rules and other agency guidance, [a recent amendment to the law] imposes an additional set of covered circumstances in which employers must allow employees to use paid time off ... [These include] absences from work resulting from the employee or a covered family member of the employee being the victim of family offense matters, sexual offenses, stalking, or human trafficking."
Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

Model Leave Request, Certification and Waiver Forms Issued for the New York Paid Family Leave Law
"On the Form PFL-1, employees will be required to provide certain information in support of the leave request ... [Part B] must be completed by the employer and returned back to the employee within three business days.... [E]mployers will be required to provide a breakdown of the employee's last 8 weeks of gross wages and the resulting average weekly wage ... [It] will then be the employee's responsibility to submit the form, along with any required supporting documentation, to the employer's PFL carrier (in the case of a self-insured employer, the Form PFL-1 would be retained and processed by the employer)."
Proskauer

[Guidance Overview]

Smaller Employers in California Required to Provide Job-Protected Unpaid Parental Leave Starting January 1, 2018
"The new law essentially expands coverage to employers with between 20 and 49 employees 'within 75 miles' -- that is, employers who are too small to be covered under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), both of which apply to employers with 50 or more employees.... The 12 weeks of leave provided by this law is in addition to the up to 4 months of pregnancy disability leave (PDL) available to employees working for an employer covered by the California PDL law, i.e. employers with five or more employees."
Mintz Levin

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

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Learn how to avoid common administration mistakes, implement best practices and be aware of interactions with other laws.


When You Don't Train Your Managers About the FMLA, You're Begging for This Kind of Smackdown
"When a manager learns that one of his employees is in the hospital for several days, that's almost always enough information for the employer to have an inkling that the employee may need FMLA leave. But one employer didn't think so. And the penalty for its mistake was costly.... Because the court found that the employer willfully violated the FMLA, it awarded [the employee] liquidated damages, which doubled [the] back pay award." [Boadi v. Center for Human Development, Inc., No. 14-30162 (D. Mass. Sept. 21, 2017)]
FMLA Insights

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Inferior Parental Leave Policies Can Result in Discrimination Claims
"[T]he EEOC views leave related to any pregnancy or childbirth-related physical limitations differently from leave for purposes of child bonding or care. Although the Estee Lauder case has not been fully litigated, the EEOC's recent lawsuit is a reminder, as the EEOC stated in its press release, that 'federal law requires equal pay, including benefits, for equal work, and that applies to men as well as women.' "
McDermott Will & Emery

Paid Family Leave Policies May Not All Be Equal
"If your company has a family leave policy that goes beyond the legal requirements of the [FMLA], does that policy need to apply to all employee levels equally? No. But as Starbucks is currently experiencing, your company may face some questions about why corporate executives have a more favorable paid family leave policy than lower-level employees."
Bradley

Health Reimbursement Accounts in Limbo After Subsidies Cut
"Critics of Trump's move to stop giving subsidies to certain populations say the move will tank the individual market. That means employers that might want to give their workers tax-free money in an HRA to purchase their own coverage might not feel as comfortable sending employees to an unstable market."
Bloomberg BNA

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For over 20 years, we've helped employers find the best-informed candidates to fill their benefits job openings -- learn more!


The HSA Opportunity, Explained
"[HSAs] never expire and may be invested. The accounts have a triple tax advantage: tax deductible, tax-free withdrawals, and tax-free earnings on investment returns. Many people do not fully understand the implications of these features.... [J]ust over a third of employees who are covered by a HSA-qualified plan actually contribute. Even more dramatic, less than 3% of HSA account holders currently invest."
BNY Mellon

Impact on Employers of ACA Executive Orders
"The first order will allow employers and employees to benefit from alternatives to traditional employer sponsored group health plans, and may even make it easier for healthy employees to find alternative coverage, causing premiums to rise for those who remain on employer plans. The second order seems to be aimed directly at dismantling the ACA by collapsing the insurance exchanges, with the ultimate goal of pushing Congress to act quickly on an ACA replacement or revision."
Frost Brown Todd LLC

State Attorneys General Ask Court for Injunction Reversing CSR Payment Halt
"The motion asks the court to make a decision by 4:00 PM October 19, as the next cost-sharing reduction payment is due on October 20. The plaintiffs ask for a nationwide injunction as the issue it addresses is nationwide in scope.... The states argue that Congress has in fact appropriated funds to cover the cost sharing reduction reimbursement payments.... Congress appropriated in the ACA funds for the premium tax credits and, the states argue, this appropriation covers the CSR payments as well."
Health Affairs

A Path Toward Understanding and Lowering U.S. Prescription Drug Spending
"Prescription drugs accounted for 17 percent of total U.S. health care spending -- or about $457 billion -- in 2015. And that share is expected to rise over the next decade as drug costs outpace those of all other health care services.... For individuals who purchase health insurance, or who have group coverage from their employer, prescription drugs account for the largest share of their total premium expense -- 22.1 percent on average[.]"
The Commonwealth Fund

Back in the Spotlight: The ACA Again Takes Center Stage
"Besides appropriating funds for the CSR program for a two-year period, the new bill would: [1] create a new 'copper' level plan for the Marketplace Exchange, essentially extending the availability of less expensive catastrophic coverage -- which is now available only to adults under age 30 -- to all adults; [2] provide states with greater flexibility to innovate, both in the design of their Medicaid plans and in the ACA health insurance coverage requirements for insurers within a state, streamlining the waiver approval process; and [3] implement rules for states to enter into interstate health insurance compacts for the sale of insurance across state lines."
Ballard Spahr LLP

Bipartisan Health Proposal Is Too Late for 2018, But a Salve for 2019
"The new bipartisan health proposal ... would send health insurers a message they have sought all year: that it's safe to stay in the marketplaces.... Though the proposal would guarantee payments to health insurers that President Trump canceled last week, and restore funding for Obamacare advertising that [HHS] slashed, those changes would probably come too late to lower insurance prices or increase sign-ups significantly."
The New York Times; subscription may be required

Benefits in General

Top Technology Takeaways for Benefit Pros
"Tools to help employees answer the question 'What benefits does someone like me need?' are becoming increasingly crucial to making sure employees aren't exposed to more risk than they can handle.... [Y]ou have an opportunity to use new technologies to take a more strategic approach to benefits.... [D]ata visualization and smart reporting tools are so important, because you can't spend your entire day poring over spreadsheets trying to figure out what's going on. You need clear, immediate answers."
Benefitfocus

Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

What Is 'Base Salary' for 409A Purposes?
"Is there a regulation that defines 'base salary' for purposes of a 409A elective account balance plan? I typically use a definition in my plan docs that describes what is versus what is not considered base salary, but I'm working with a takeover plan where the document does not define base salary. The client continues to have fluctuations in contribution amounts due to PTO donations. They have always considered PTO as part of base salary. Is there any 409A standard definition or some other basis for me to look to?"
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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
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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