Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

November 27, 2019

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Houston TX / Telecommute

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Washington DC / Telecommute

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[Official Guidance]

Text of Draft IRS Publication 15-B: Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, for Use in 2020 (PDF)

35 pages, Nov. 26, 2019. "What's New: Cents-per-mile rule.... Qualified parking exclusion and commuter transportation benefit.... Contribution limit on a health flexible spending arrangement (FSA).... New Form 1099-NEC. "

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Updates Mileage Rate Ruling to Reflect Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Changes

"The suspensions of miscellaneous itemized deductions, moving expense deductions, and exclusions for moving expense reimbursements have already taken effect and been explained by the IRS multiple times. Revenue Procedure 2010-51, however, was the IRS's authoritative pre-TCJA description of the rules governing mileage rates and had to be updated. While the update [in Rev. Proc. 2019-46] seems to add little to what we already knew about the TCJA's impact, it does add an interesting reminder about schemes to recharacterize income as nontaxable business expense reimbursements."

Thomson Reuters / EBIA

[Guidance Overview]

New York Paid Family Leave Law: Are You Prepared for 2020?

"The FAQs make clear that employees will receive the benefit rate and number of weeks in effect on the first day of their leave. For example, if an employee starts a period of paid family leave in 2019, and it extends into 2020, the employee is not eligible for the benefits at the 2020 rate. However, an employee who takes intermittent leave in 2019 may be eligible for increased benefits if more than three months passes before the employee’s next day or period of leave (as this is considered to be a new claim under the law)."

Proskauer

[Guidance Overview]

New York's Westchester County Issues Guidance, Notice of Employee Rights, and Poster on the New Safe Time Leave Law

"The Guidance leaves at least two important questions unanswered. First, the Law allows employees to use PSTL in full days 'and/or increments' but does not identify any minimum increment of use or assign that decision to either the employer or employee. Second, in defining employees who are covered by the Law, it excludes Westchester County government employees who are subject to a collective bargaining agreement. The Law does not appear to provide a similar carve-out for private employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement -- the Guidance remains silent on this issue."

Epstein Becker Green

Seventh Circuit Holds Employer to Promise of Lifetime Healthcare Benefits for Retirees

"The court noted that while ERISA does not require that welfare benefits be vested, such benefits may be vested if the contract providing the benefits contains vesting language. The court further found that the plan's language 'unambiguously provided retirees with vested lifetime health-care benefits.' ... [T]he court found that even if the plan was ambiguous regarding vesting, extrinsic evidence in the form of industry usage and the behavior of the parties showed that the benefits were intended to be vested." [Stone v. Signode Industrial Group LLC, No. 19-1601 (7th Cir. Nov. 20, 2019)]

Kantor & Kantor

[Opinion]

How Trump's Sunshine Rules Will Boost Transparency in Health Care Prices

"The president's combination of rule changes ... would enable patients to get vital information on what they will pay for scheduled medical procedures and services ... The Trump policy could stimulate intense price competition among hospitals and thus enable patients, as well as insurers and employers, to secure significant health care savings. In short, the policy promises to increase the power of individuals and families by giving them greater control over their health care dollars and decisions."

The Heritage Foundation

Benefits in General

Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017

"Between 1959 and 2016, US life expectancy increased from 69.9 years to 78.9 years but declined for 3 consecutive years after 2014. The recent decrease in US life expectancy culminated a period of increasing cause-specific mortality among adults aged 25 to 64 years that began in the 1990s, ultimately producing an increase in all-cause mortality that began in 2010.... By 2014, midlife mortality was increasing across all racial groups, caused by drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases."

JAMA Network

Court Upholds ERISA Plan's Forum Selection Clause

"Explaining that 'forum-selection clauses should control except in unusual cases,' the court stated that in the absence of fraud it was irrelevant that she was unaware of the forum selection provision when she filed suit. The court also rejected the employee's argument that compelling the case to be litigated in Wisconsin contravened ERISA's legislative intent and public policy by denying the employee 'ready access to federal courts.' " [Manuel-Clark v. ManpowerGroup Short-Term Disability Plan, No. 19-147 (E.D.N.C. Oct. 28, 2019; notice of appeal filed Oct. 28, 2019)]

Thomson Reuters / EBIA

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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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