Legal Alert – IRS Updates Employer Mandate FAQs: Indicates that Penalty Letters are Imminent

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has updated its list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility provisions – also known as the “pay or play” mandate. In particular, questions 55 through 58 provide guidance for employers who may be subject to shared responsibility payments. The FAQs indicate that the IRS will begin sending penalty letters to applicable large employers (ALEs) that owe penalties for calendar year 2015 “in late 2017.” Around this time last year, the IRS had indicated that penalty letters for 2015 would be coming “in early 2017;” however, those letters never materialized. Based on the latest update to its FAQs, it appears that the IRS has worked out the kinks in its systems and is prepared to begin sending penalty letters.

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Legal Alert – Start Planning Today for a Stress-free Holiday Season

While the holiday season brings joy and togetherness, it can also bring stress for many individuals and families. Top holiday stressors include staying on a budget, managing multiple commitments and finding the perfect gift. Fortunately, by getting organized and planning out what you can ahead of time, you can help reduce your holiday stress.

For more information, click HERE to read this important legal alert.

Legal Alert – IRS Increases Health FSA Contribution Limit for 2018, Adjusts Other Benefit Limits

On October 20, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2017-58, which raises the health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) salary reduction contribution limit by $50 to $2,650 for plan years beginning in 2018. The Revenue Procedure also contains the cost-of-living adjustments that apply to dollar limitations in certain sections of the Internal Revenue Code. The following summarizes other adjustments relevant to individuals and employer sponsors of welfare and fringe benefit plans.

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Legal Alert – President Trump Issues Executive Order on ACA, Separately Attempts to End Cost-Sharing Payments to Insurers

On October 12th, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the federal agencies in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to propose new regulations or revise existing guidance to expand access to association health plans (AHPs), short-term insurance plans, and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). While the order directs the agencies to consider changes that would have a sweeping effect on the health insurance industry, it has no immediate effect – any changes in rules or regulations will be subject to standard notice and comment periods.

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Legal Alert – Trump Administration Releases Guidance on ACA’s Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

On October 6, 2017, The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor (the “Departments”) released interim final regulations allowing employers and insurance companies to decline to cover contraceptives under their health plans based on a religious or moral objection. The new rules, which are effective immediately, scale back Obama-era regulations under the Affordable Care Act that require non-grandfathered group health plans to cover women’s contraceptives with no cost-sharing, with limited exceptions for non-profit religious organizations or closely-held for-profit entities.

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Legal Alert – Court Requires EEOC to Substantiate 30% Limit on Wellness Program Incentives

On August 22, 2017, a federal court in the District of Columbia ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reconsider the limits it placed on wellness program incentives under final regulations the agency issued last year under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). As part of the final regulations, the EEOC set a limit on incentives under wellness programs equal to 30% of the total cost of self-
only coverage under the employer’s group health plan. The court found that the EEOC did not properly consider whether the 30% limit on incentives would ensure the program remained “voluntary” as required by the ADA and GINA and sent the regulations back to the EEOC for reconsideration.

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Legal Alert – Senate Republicans Release Updated Discussion Draft of ACA Repeal Bill

The Senate originally released their healthcare legislation,
called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), on June 22nd in response to the House of Representatives’ version, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was passed by the House on May 4th. On July 13, 2017 the Senate released another updated Discussion Draft of the BCRA in hopes of gaining enough support by swing vote senators to pass the BCRA by a simple majority vote through the budget reconciliation process. The July 13 Discussion Draft largely mirrors the previous draft BCRA. Its primary revisions are unlikely to have a significant impact on employer-sponsored group health plan coverage but include allowing people to use health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for individual marketplace coverage when premiums exceed tax credits and maintaining the 3.8% net investment income tax and 0.9% Medicare payroll tax on high-wage earners. Employers should maintain Affordable Care Act compliance as the legislative process continues. This Legal Alert features a comparison chart of the current ACA, House AHCA, and updated Senate Discussion Draft of the BCRA.

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Legal Alert – Senate Republicans Release Healthcare Bill; Largely Mirroring House Bill but with Some Key Differences

On Thursday, June 22, 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky released a 142-page healthcare “Discussion Draft” of legislation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), which is the Senate version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “repeal-and-replace” legislation American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month. In large part, the BCRA mirrors the House-passed AHCA. Initially, Senator McConnell had stated that he intended to call a vote this week, but he has since indicated that the vote will be delayed until after the July 4th recess. If the Senate passes the bill, it will either have to be approved by the House (the two chambers would have to reconcile their differences in a conference committee), or the House could pass a new version and send it back to the Senate for approval. The Legal Alert contains a chart that compares key components of the ACA, House AHCA, and Senate BCRA.

As noted previously, employers should stay the course on ACA compliance while healthcare reform continues to progress through the legislative process.

For more information, click HERE to read this important legal alert.

Legal Alert – REMINDER: PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2017

Employers that sponsor self-insured group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) should keep in mind the upcoming July 31, 2017 deadline for paying fees
that fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). As background, the PCORI was established as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of medical treatments, procedures and strategies that treat, manage, diagnose or prevent illness or injury. Under the ACA, most employer sponsors and insurers will be required to pay PCORI fees until 2019.

For more information, click HERE to read this important legal alert.