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January 24, 2020 logo logo
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[Official Guidance]

Editor's Pick HHS Issues Notice of Violation to California for Its Abortion Coverage Mandate

"OCR is issuing a Notice of Violation to the state of California, formally notifying California that it cannot impose universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans and issuers in violation of federal conscience laws. California has deprived over 28,000 people of plans that did not cover elective abortion, but now must cover abortion due to California’s mandate."

Office of Civil Rights [OCR], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Guidance Overview]

Goodbye to the Parking Tax! IRS Authorizes Refunds for Exempt Organizations

"In addition to following the ordinary instructions provided for Form 990-T, an organization that is filing an amended return solely to claim the refund or credit due to the repeal of Section 512(a)(7) should write 'Amended Return -- Section 512(a)(7) Repeal' at the top of the Form 990-T. The organization should revise the return to not include any amount attributable to Section 512(a)(7) and attach a statement indicating the lines for which the numbers changed from the original return and stating 'repeal of Section 512(a)(7)' as the reason for the changes."

Holland & Knight

[Guidance Overview]

DC Employers Must Provide Paid Family Leave Law Notice by February 1, 2020

"The D.C. government has published a notice that provides employees with information about the Paid Family Leave law ... Employers with employees in D.C. must post this notice in 'a conspicuous place' at their worksites ... [B]eginning February 1, 2020, employers must provide employees with the notice in electronic or physical form: [1] at the time of hiring; [2] at least once between February 1, 2020 and February 1, 2021 and a least once a year every following year; and [3] whenever the employer 'receives direct notice' of an employee's need to take leave for an event that could qualify for benefits under the Paid Family Leave program."


[Guidance Overview]

New Jersey WARN Act to Impose Mandatory Severance Pay, Stricter Employer Obligations

"The amended New Jersey WARN Act will impose significantly stricter obligations (including potential individual liability) and make New Jersey the first state to mandate severance pay to employees separated as a result of certain layoffs, transfers, or terminations of operations -- even if the employer provides the requisite advance notice. The law takes effect on July 19, 2020."

Morgan Lewis

[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Quarterly Contributions Are Due January 31, 2020

"While no benefits are available under the MAPFML until 2021, ... the first quarterly reports and contributions to the Commonwealth's MAPFML fund (i.e. to cover the period from October 1 to December 31, 2019) must be remitted on or before January 31, 2020."


Cost and Satisfaction: Traditional vs. High-Deductible Health Plan Enrollees (PDF)

"The percentage of the population with a high deductible has continued to increase.... Traditional plan users prioritized low out-of-pocket costs, whereas HDHP users reported that low premiums were more important than out-of-pocket costs when selecting their plan.... HDHP enrollees were less satisfied with the number of health plan choices offered than traditional enrollees."

Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI]

Insurers Start Drug Company to Lower Prescription Prices

"A group of 18 Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurers ... announced they will spend $55 million to partner with Civica Rx to create a new subsidiary dedicated to lowering the cost of select generic drugs.... Civica is a nonprofit organization formed in 2018 by three philanthropies and numerous health care organizations ... While Civica had been focused on providing drugs to hospitals, this partnership will focus on drugs that are purchased at pharmacies outside of hospitals."

2021 Planning: Key Questions to Get You Started

"[It's] never too early to start planning for next year. This is especially true now that many employers feel they've maxed out on healthcare cost-shifting to plan members. And, more than ever, they realize the need to address all the dimensions of wellbeing -- physical, mental, emotional, financial and purpose. Here are some questions and ideas to get you started with your 2021 strategy."


Cost-Saving Strategies for Self-Insured Benefits Plans

"[1] Wellbeing programs (health risk management) ... [2] Prescription drug carve-out plans ... [3] Dependent audit ... [4] Claims audit."


OCR Announces Second Settlement Stemming from Same HIPAA Right of Access Enforcement Initiative

"OCR's news release indicates that this is the second settlement stemming from a right of access enforcement initiative announced in 2019.... Although the dollar amount of the settlement [$85,000] may be considered modest, keep in mind that only one individual was affected by this violation and for only 20 days (resulting in a penalty of $4,250 per day)."

Thomson Reuters / EBIA

How CBO and JCT Analyze Major Proposals That Would Affect Health Insurance Choices

"This infographic outlines the process when CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) are tasked with analyzing major legislative proposals that would affect health insurance choices for people under age 65. Together, CBO and JCT develop a cost estimate that reflects the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes."

Congressional Budget Office [CBO]

Benefits in General

Generation X: How to Retain These Key Workers (PDF)

"[F]inancial stability tops the list of Gen X priorities as they were among the hardest hit during the economic crisis of 2008 and are carrying more healthcare costs ... [T]he vast majority (85%) of Gen Xers agree to some extent that everyone at their company gets offered the same health and wellbeing resources and over half say they have received irrelevant support."

Welltok; free registration required

Editor's Pick New Online Search Tool for Form 5500s Filed with the DOL

EBSA has released a new search tool for Form 5500 filings. In addition to searching for specific filings, users now can search for filings using new filters including plan type, plan asset value, number of participants, employer plan types, business codes, form years, and locations. The number of search results generated increased to 5,000 filings. Users may export search results to a CSV file. Form 5500 filings with the Department since January 2010 are available in the new search tool.

Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Small Employer Paying Varying Percentages of Group Health Premiums for Different Employees

"Situation involves a true Mom and Pop employer with husband and wife owners (both highly compensated) and a handful of other employees. The company offers a fully-insured group health plan for full-time employees. The company has always 'covered' 100% of the owners' group health premiums but historically only 60% of the others' premiums with the employees required to contribute the remaining 40%. As I understand the current rules, it does not seem like there is a per se problem with charging varying rates for the fully insured coverage from a group health insurance, HIPAA, ERISA, or other perspective. Cafeteria Plan discrimination testing would appear to be a potential issue here, however. Agree?"

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Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue, Inc.
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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020, 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, 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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