Benefits Law Update

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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Category: Health and Welfare Plans

ERISA and COBRA Implications for EAPs and Wellness Programs

There is a growing trend for employers to provide employee assistance programs (“EAPs”) and wellness programs for the benefit of their employees. Typically, the employer pays for benefits under these programs out of its general assets. These programs are designed to reduce health care costs, reduce absences from work...
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Allocation of Medical Loss Ratio Rebates and Premium Refunds

One consequence of the current COVID-19 crisis for group health plans has been the significant reduction in employee preventive care and elective medical procedures as people shelter in place and socially distance. When group health plan premiums were established last year, the underwriters could not have foreseen 2020’s underutilization...
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IRS and DOL Extend Certain Health & Welfare Benefit Plan-Related Deadlines

This post summarizes the health and welfare benefit plan-related deadline extensions described in IRS Notice 2020-23 issued April 9, 2020 and the DOL and Treasury Joint Notice issued April 28, 2020 (the “Joint Notice”). IRS Notice 2020-23 expands upon previously issued guidance extending certain tax filing and payment deadlines...
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With CARES Act, Congress provides retirement plan relief and group health plan changes

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, includes a number of provisions that affect retirement plan sponsors and participants. These provisions are designed to provide relief to participants and employers facing financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic...
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Paying Health Insurance Premiums for Furloughed or Laid Off Employees

Employers of all sizes in nearly every industry have had to lay off or furlough employees in an attempt to deal with the massive business disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19. Facing this reality, many employers have asked whether they can pay monthly health insurance premiums on behalf...
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Congress Passes Emergency Paid Leave Laws in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

On March 18, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act , a temporary measure designed to increase the availability of paid leave during a time when many employees are being directed to stay at home. The following is a brief summary of...
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High-deductible health plans can cover coronavirus costs

Recognizing the need to eliminate potential administrative and financial barriers to testing for and treatment of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), in Notice 2020-15 , posted today on IRS.gov, the IRS advised that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for COVID-19-related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status. This...
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December 2019 Client Advisory

This Client Advisory, originally distributed in December 2019, highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans and executive compensation over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for employers and plan sponsors and previews developments we expect to see in 2020. The following...
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Form 1094 and Form 1095 Reporting for Expatriate Employees

Every IRS Form 1094/1095 filing season (roughly January and February of each year), we receive questions on reporting for expatriate employees. The most common questions: do we need to furnish a Form to expat employees working in the U.S. (sometimes called "inpats") who are covered under a regular or...
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December 2018 Client Advisory

This Client Advisory, originally distributed in December 2018, highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans and executive compensation over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for employers and plan sponsors and previews developments we expect to see in 2019. The following...
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Near Unanimity Among the Circuits: Anti-Assignment Provisions are Enforceable

U.S. Courts of Appeals in all but four Circuits have now held that anti-assignment provisions in health insurance plans governed by ERISA are enforceable. In American Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine v. Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield , No. 17-1663, 2018 WL 2224394 (3d Cir. May 16, 2018) the Third...
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Wellness Programs: Where are we now?

Wellness programs are governed by overlapping and, at times, maddeningly inconsistent regulations and agency guidance. Litigation challenging the wellness program rules issued by the EEOC in 2016 has added another layer of complexity for employers attempting to design and administer wellness programs in compliance with applicable law. Nevertheless, wellness...
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IRS Reduces 2018 HSA Family Contribution Limit

UPDATE: On April 26, 2018, the IRS reversed course and restored the limit on deductible contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) for individuals with family coverage under a high deductible health plan to $6,900, the original amount announced last fall. According to the IRS , individuals who received an...
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Noteworthy Federal Cases Relating to Employee Benefit Plans in 2017

Here is a round up of cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and the First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeals in 2017 involving ERISA employee benefit plans. While courts decided a number of cases pertinent to benefit plans, we found these to be noteworthy: United States Supreme...
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EEOC Doubles Down: Final Wellness Program Rules Under ADA and GINA – Part II

Last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued final rules for wellness programs under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (the " Final ADA Rule ") and the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) (the " Final GINA Rule "). Part I of this two-part series addressed...
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EEOC Doubles Down: Final Wellness Program Rules Under ADA and GINA – Part I

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued final rules for wellness programs under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (the " Final ADA Rule ") and the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) (the " Final GINA Rule "). The release is accompanied by Frequently Asked Questions...
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Avoiding a Patchwork of Pitfalls: Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

In the first decision issued since the passing of Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court of the United States held that ERISA preempts a Vermont statute requiring third party administrators of self-insured group health plans to report claims information to state health care databases. Gobeille v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co...
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IRS Issues Guidance on Employer Health Plan Opt-Out Payment Arrangements

Late last month the IRS released, in the form of 26 Q/As in Notice 2015-87 , guidance on the application of various provisions of the Affordable Care Act to employer-sponsored health coverage. The Notice covers a number of important issues, including the effect of health reimbursement account contributions, cafeteria...
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Client Advisory - Winter 2016

This Client Advisory highlights certain developments regarding the Affordable Care Act (most significantly, the delay of the ACA reporting requirements and the "Cadillac" tax), discusses the EEOC's proposed rules for wellness programs and the outcome of recent EEOC wellness program litigation, reviews important cases recently decided by and pending...
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2015 Mid-Year Client Advisory

At this time of year many employers finalize welfare plan designs for 2016 and gear up for open enrollment. And this summer, many employers are in the process of reviewing updated pre-approved defined contribution plan documents provided by their record keeping firms. With those efforts in mind, this Client...
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Where There’s Smoke There’s Questions: Designing Compliant Wellness Programs That Target Tobacco Use

The final regulations concerning wellness programs under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended (HIPAA) continue to generate a number of questions and concerns for employers whose programs seek to promote employee health by curbing tobacco use. The compliance status of some programs is further complicated by...
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EEOC Finally Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Wellness Programs

The final regulations concerning wellness programs under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended (HIPAA) continue to generate a number of questions and concerns for employers whose programs seek to promote employee health by curbing tobacco use. The compliance status of some programs is further complicated by...
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Notice 2015-17: Small-Scale Excise Tax Relief for Small Employers

On February 18, 2015 the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2015-17 , which provides temporary relief from the excise tax under Code section 4980D for employer programs that reimburse employees for the cost of health insurance coverage purchased on the individual market (including coverage obtained through an Exchange). The...
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2014 Year-End Employee Benefit Plans Compliance Advisory

The 2014 end-of-year rush seems somewhat less frantic than in years past. Nevertheless, with a month left in the year many employers may find themselves scrambling to meet plan amendment and notice deadlines, and planning for 2015 may still be in process for some. This summary discusses a few...
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Complimentary Webinar to Review Recent Legal Issues with Wellness Programs

Join Richard Moon and Chris Lockman on Thursday, November 20, from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. for a complimentary webinar that will provide a general overview of the final wellness program regulations and recent EEOC litigation attacking certain wellness programs. The DOL, HHS, and the Treasury Department have released detailed...
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CMS Delays HPID Application Deadline

On October 31, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a statement delaying enforcement of the health plan identifier (HPID) requirement. Specifically, Controlling Health Plans (CHPs) are no longer required to obtain HPIDs by the originally announced deadline of November 5, 2014, which has been delayed...
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Are you Experienced? A Look at the HPID Application Experience

Under final rules issued September 5, 2012 by the Department of Health and Human Services under HIPAA, nearly all employer group health plans are required to obtain a unique health plan identification number (HPID) by November 5, 2014. (We summarize the final rules briefly here .) Health plans with...
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