Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 14, 2019

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Jobs

Pension Plan Administrator
American Pension Advisors, Ltd.
in Indianapolis IN

Employee Benefits Associate
Shipman & Goodwin LLP
in Hartford CT

Relationship Manager
Newport Group
in Los Angeles CA

Relationship Manager
Newport Group
in Lake Mary FL

Program Implementation Analyst
NRECA
in Arlington VA

Pension Administrator
Strategic Pension Services, LLC
in Albany NY / Telecommute

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Webcasts, Conferences

The Alphabet Soup of Health Accounts
RECORDED
Winston & Strawn

Everything Employers Need to Know about Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave
May 23, 2019 WEBCAST
Fisher & Phillips LLP

WEB Atlanta Summer Social Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
June 12, 2019 in GA
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Atlanta Chapter

Effectively Communicating Your Benefits Program to a Multi-Generational Workforce
June 12, 2019 in TX
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Houston Chapter

Healthcare Innovation
June 13, 2019 in OH
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Northeast Ohio Chapter

►See 172 Upcoming Webcasts and Conferences

►See 1522 Recorded Webcasts


Discussions

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[Guidance Overview]

New Jersey Employees to Be Entitled to Pre-Tax Transportation Fringe Benefits

"While New Jersey is the first state to pass legislation aimed at protecting this benefit for employees, some municipalities, including New York City, previously have enacted similar laws. The Act will require that transit benefit elections be permitted 'at the maximum benefit levels' allowable under federal law. For 2019, such maximum benefit is $265 per month, up from $260 per month in 2018."
Proskauer

Lawsuit Against Generic Drug Manufacturers Alleges Conspiracy to Fix Prices for Over 100 Drugs

"[Connecticut] Attorney General William Tong led a 44-state coalition in announcing a lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation's largest generic drug manufacturers alleging a broad conspiracy to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition and unreasonably restrain trade for more than 100 different generic drugs.... The drugs at issue account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States, and the alleged schemes increased prices affecting the health insurance market, taxpayer-funded healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and individuals who must pay artificially-inflated prices for their prescriptions drugs." [Connecticut v. Teva, No. 19-710 (D. Conn. complaint filed May 10, 2019)]
Office of Connecticut Attorney General William Tong

Policy Proposals to Increase Patient Access and Improve Affordability for Prescription Drugs (PDF)

10 pages. "[The authors] propose a set of positive, common sense policy solutions to address the issues around prescription drug access and affordability. These proposals are broken into four broad categories: [1] better coverage; [2] pay for value; [3] better markets and competition; and [4] improved transparency."
Council for Affordable Health Coverage [CAHC]

Drug Price Disclosures and the First Amendment

"The rule's disclosure requirement likely does regulate speech rather than non-expressive conduct: the Supreme Court held in 1976 that 'prescription drug price advertising' is protected by the First Amendment, and more recently, said that if the government regulates 'the communication of prices rather than prices themselves,' the government is regulating speech.... [T]he Supreme Court has said that, generally, disclosure requirements compel speech and are accordingly subject to heightened scrutiny under the First Amendment." [CRS Legal Sidebar LSB10298, May 13, 2019]
Congressional Research Service [CRS]

Benefit Trends That Matter Most to Employers and Workers (PDF)

"While 32% of employers went out to bid for health coverage in 2018 for 2019, only 12% of companies actually switched plans and two-thirds have not changed their health plan coverage in the last three years.... Mental health has caught up to diabetes as a leading focus area for employee health, with 32% of employers saying they are focusing on diabetes and 30% on mental health as top employee health and well-being concerns."
Minnesota Health Action Group

Hospital Price Study Draws Pushback

"Recently issued RAND Corporation research ... concluded that relative hospital prices -- among those studied -- increased from 236 percent of Medicare rates in 2015 to 241 percent in 2017. The study ... raised concerns in the hospital sector, including: [1] The small sample size, which encompassed less than 5% of all covered individuals in about half of all states and only 2% of the 181 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance; [2] The lack of regard for the deterioration in hospitals' overall Medicare margin from -9.7% in 2016 to -9.9% in 2017."
Healthcare Financial Management Association [HFMA]

ACA Round-Up: New Uninsured Data, Resources On 1332, Briefs In Texas

"A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the uninsured rate remained largely stable in 2018 but that the number of uninsured people continues to rise. [CMS] released yet more resources for states interested in pursuing a state innovation waiver under Section 1332 of the [ACA]. And a comparatively small group of stakeholders filed amicus briefs in support of those challenging the ACA in Texas v. United States."
Katie Keith, in Health Affairs

Bipartisan Consensus on Surprise Medical Billing, but Finding an Effective Fix May be Difficult

"[E]ven with bipartisan recognition of the problem, crafting a federal solution is expected to be complex. In addition to determining how to balance state and federal roles in regulation of insurance practices, it will be important for legislators to understand how reimbursement rates are set in the private sector, how charges may differ from actual costs, the complicated dynamics of negotiations between payers and hospital-based physicians, and the role cost shifting continues to play in the health care system as a whole."
Reed Smith

Health Plans Take Proactive Approaches to Confront U.S. Measles Outbreak

"Most insurers seem to be engaging in generalized outreach to members, though [one insurer said] that concern about some people getting the ineffective measles vaccine in the 1960s prompted its recent communication efforts."
AISHealth

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Editor's Pick Keep Your Tools Sharp: View Accumulated Wisdom of Fellow Employee Benefit Practitioners on Timely, Practical Topics

Using our free message boards, you can view all messages posted by a particular member. For example, if you find Texas attorney Luke Bailey's contributions to be particularly valuable to you, you can generate a list such as this one (click). Generating a list for any particular member is easy -- learn more. Eavesdrop on the country's best, most involved practitioners. Or jump in -- the water's fine!
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Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

Text of DOL FAQs, Part 2: Federal District Court Ruling About Final Rule on Association Health Plans (PDF)
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Paid Sick Leave: A Way Forward (PDF)
HR Policy Association

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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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