Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

January 30, 2020

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[Guidance Overview]

Deadline is Approaching for Group Health Plan Service Agreement Updates

"Recent changes to the federal rules governing confidentiality of substance use disorder (SUD) patient records may require updates to agreements between group health plans and their third-party vendors. Group health plans may be caught up in the changes if they wind up in possession of certain SUD patient records and disclose those records to their vendors for the plan's payment and health care operations. Plans should speak with their vendors to confirm whether they receive such records and, if so, whether their contracts already include the required language or need to be updated going forward."

Seyfarth

[Guidance Overview]

New Jersey Becomes First State to Mandate Severance Pay

"The new law ... mandates one week of severance pay per year of service to employees if the transaction resulted in 50 or more employees being laid off within a 30-day period. Companies that would be affected must have 100 or more employees.... [E]mployees counted for the 100-employee threshold will now include not only full-time employees, but also part-time employees."

Archer

[Guidance Overview]

Michigan's Paid Medical Leave Act, at One Year Out

"Nearly one year ago, the MPMLA made Michigan the eleventh state to enact mandatory sick leave pay for employees.... Now seems an appropriate time for employers, particularly small businesses, to ensure they interpreted the requirements correctly and are currently in compliance."

Wilson Elser

IRS Confirms That Cafeteria Plans Need Not Permit Midyear Election Changes

"[IRS Information Letter 2019-0028] responds to an inquiry regarding an employee whose request to make a DCAP election change due to a 'disrupted or unforeseeable child care environment' was denied because it did not occur during the plan's open enrollment period.... This information letter does not break new ground or include any surprises. But ... it may provide helpful support when explaining a plan's operating rules or decisions."

Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Employee Wellbeing Trends for 2020

"Mental health (80%), stress management (73%), mindfulness and meditation (66%), and financial wellness (64%) programs ranked the highest in terms of the percentage of budget employers expecting to 'invest more in'.... Employers overwhelmingly favor flexible schedules (84%), remote work (67%), and paid time off (53%) as benefits of choice to support [caregivers].... Health risk assessments (39%), biometric screenings (34%), health fairs (30%), fitness classes (25%), and health coaching (25%) ranked the highest in terms of the percentage of employers expecting to 'invest less in'."

Grooms Benefit Solutions

ACA Litigation Round-Up: A Status Check

"The Supreme Court will issue at least two ACA-related decisions before the end of its current term: one on the risk corridors program and the other on religious or moral exemptions to the contraceptive mandate. Both decisions are expected before July 2020 and could have implications that extend beyond the ACA."

Katie Keith, in Health Affairs

Dropping Medicare for Employer Coverage May Come with Snags

"The share of people age 65 to 74 in the workforce is projected to reach 30.2% in 2026, up from 26.8% in 2016 and 17.5% in 1996. If you return to work and have the option of dropping Medicare for group coverage at your job, be aware of the rules that apply to the switch, as well as those you'll face when you eventually want to pick it up again."

CNBC

[Opinion]

American Benefits Council Comment Letter to CMS on Transparency in Coverage Proposed Rule

"Notwithstanding its benefits, the cost-sharing estimate tool ... will impose substantial burdens on plans.... The Departments ... should develop rules that would require increased pre-service disclosures by providers to participants of the services  ... Increased transparency is needed with respect to a plan's and employer's access to and use of the plan's own pricing data, including claims data and provider-specific negotiated rates.... It is essential that DOL take steps, by way of a safe harbor, to guard against the potential for increased litigation under ERISA due to the disclosure of negotiated rates[.]"

American Benefits Council

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020 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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