Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 20, 2019

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[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Employers: Are You Ready for Paid Family and Medical Leave?

"Employers now have until June 30, 2019 ... to give written notice to workers concerning their rights under the new law. The notice may be provided electronically, but must include an opportunity for workers to acknowledge receipt.... Employers now have until September 20, 2019 ... to apply for an exemption from the withholding requirements if they offer a private plan that is at least as generous as the PFML's paid leave requirements. Employers must use the MassTaxConnect website to submit exemption applications."
Duane Morris LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Westchester County, New York to Require Paid Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence

"[E]mployees working in Westchester County for more than 90 days in a calendar year will be eligible to use up to 40 hours of paid leave per year for covered purposes relating to the employee being a victim of domestic violence or human trafficking ... Employees may recover the greater of $250 or three times the wages that should have been paid for each instance of undercompensated safe time taken, and $500 for each instance where employees have been unlawfully denied requested safe time."
Proskauer

House Passes Legislation to Strengthen the ACA

"[T]he Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act ... combines four individual bills related to the ACA and three bills to lower prescription drug costs.... The bill was also amended to require increased transparency of ACA-related activities by [HHS], to prohibit HHS from ending automatic reenrollment in marketplace plans, and to express the sense of Congress that HHS should not limit the practice of silver loading."
Katie Keith, in Health Affairs

CBO Reply to Sen. Grassley: Negotiation Over Drug Prices in Medicare

May 17, 2019. "Senator Chuck Grassley asked for updated answers to two questions that CBO addressed in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden in 2007. Those questions relate to the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit and options for allowing [HHS] to negotiate over the prices paid for drugs under that benefit.... The questions and the key conclusions from CBO's response in 2007 are [included in this letter]. CBO continues to stand by those conclusions."
Congressional Budget Office [CBO]

Opioid Prescriptions Drop Sharply Among California State Workers

"Insurance claims for opioids ... decreased almost 19% in a single year among the 1.5 million Californians served by [CalPERS].... Most notably, doctors reduced the daily dose and duration of opioid treatment: The number of new users who were prescribed large doses dropped 85% in the first half of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017, while new users prescribed more than a week's supply dropped 73%[.]"
Kaiser Health News

Retire Early with Health Insurance: Closing the Coverage Gap

"[If] health care costs quadruple for the next five years until you qualify for Medicare, can you cut back elsewhere to pay for it? New retirees tend to want to travel, but if you're in poor health, it isn't likely you are jet-setting around the globe, which could free up a big part of your budget. Even if you are healthy and the basic cost of coverage has soared, consider whether early retirement is worth cutting back on enjoyable lifestyle expenses to pay for health care costs so you don't need to dip into your assets[.]"
Forbes

How Does Prescription Drug Spending and Use Compare Across Large Employer Plans, Medicare Part D, and Medicaid?

"Private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid accounted for 82% of total retail prescription drug spending in the U.S. in 2017, while patients paid 14% of the total as out-of-pocket payments. For spending on specific drug products, the top five drug products with the highest total spending alone account for at least 10% of total prescription drug spending in large employer plans, Medicare Part D, and Medicaid.... Out-of-pocket drug spending per user among people in large employer plans and Medicare Part D is highest for drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis."
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

Why Employers Pay Too Much for Health Care
John C. Goodman, in Forbes

Text of CMS Final Regs: Modernizing Part D and Medicare Advantage to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

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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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