Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 15, 2019

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[Official Guidance]

Editor's Pick Text of IRS TAM 201903017: Exclusion from Taxable Income of Value of Meals and Snacks Provided to Employees (PDF)

50 pages. "With the exception of meals provided so that certain employees are available to respond to emergencies, Taxpayer has not demonstrated that its belief that its reasons for furnishing meals to its employees qualified such meals for the exclusion from income under section 119 was an objectively reasonable belief based on an understanding of the law, IRS guidance related to section 119, and application of section 119 in case law. The snack areas and employee desks used for consuming meals ... do not qualify as an eating facility as defined in Section 1.132-7, and therefore fair market value must be used in determining the amount to include for meals furnished to employees by Taxpayer[.]" [Dated Sept. 14, 2018; published online Feb. 15, 2019.]
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Reaffirms ERISA Preemption of State Wage Withholding Laws

"This information letter, dated December 4, 2018, responds to a question from an insurers' association about whether ERISA would preempt a state law that prohibits an employer from implementing automatic enrollment arrangements under which the employer automatically enrolls an employee in the employer's disability plan, and contributes part of the employee's wages as plan contributions (unless the employee affirmatively opts out of the arrangement)."
Winston & Strawn LLP

Court Rejects Claims for Improper Denial of Wilderness Therapy Program Benefits

"Plan exclusions of residential mental health treatment in a wilderness setting continue to generate litigation.... Although plan participants have met with varying degrees of success, the attention generated by these cases -- along with the DOL's focus on mental health parity enforcement -- suggests that more cases will follow." [H.H. v. Aetna Ins. Co., No. 18-80773 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 13, 2018)]
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

House, Four New States Allowed to Intervene in Texas v. Azar

"On February 14, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted two requests -- one by the U.S. House of Representatives and the other by state attorneys general in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and Nevada -- to intervene in the ongoing Texas v. Azar litigation. The Fifth Circuit also denied a request from the intervenor states, led by California, for an expedited briefing schedule. The federal government's brief will be due on March 25, 2019."
Katie Keith, in Health Affairs

House Officially Intervenes in High-Stakes Case to Defend ACA

"The U.S. House of Representatives officially intervened Thursday to defend the [ACA] at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where 38 state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice are arguing over whether any or all of the sprawling legislation remains constitutional.... Circuit Judge Leslie H. Southwick ruled that she didn't have to determine whether the House has such a right. 'In the absence of any other federal governmental party in the case presenting a complete defense to the Congressional enactment at issue, this court may benefit from the participation by the House,' Southwick wrote, granting the request." [Texas v. Azar, No. 19-10011 (5th Cir. ruling on motion to intervene, Feb. 14, 2019)]
HealthLeaders Media

Lululemon to Offer Hourly Workers Up to 6 Months of Paid Parental Leave

"Employees, who are considered full-time by the athletics wear company if they work 24 hours per week, will be eligible for three months of leave after two years at the company, while employees with five or more years behind them will be eligible for six months... [A]bout 60% of Lululemon's 13,400 workers are U.S. based, and of those employees, the majority of full-time workers have been with the company for at least two years. One-fifth have worked there five or more years."
HR Dive

2018 Was a Record Year in HIPAA Enforcement

"OCR had only entered into three settlements to resolve HIPAA violations by mid-year. But, enforcement activity picked up in the fall of 2018. In October, OCR issued the largest financial penalty ever imposed on a covered entity. Per the terms of the settlement agreement reached with the OCR, Anthem was required to pay $16 million and take substantial corrective action to resolve the HIPAA violations that led to the largest U.S. health data breach in history."
Carlton Fields

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2019 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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