Transgender Benefits Revisited?

In a series of tweets published on July 26, 2017, President Trump announced a ban on transgender service in the armed forces.  In the wake of this reversal of government policy, employers may question the current state of transgender benefits and whether additional changes are forthcoming.

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued final regulations implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“Section 1557”), which prohibit, in part, the categorical refusal of coverage to transgender participants and require that individuals be treated consistent with their self-selected gender identity.  As a result of these changes, many employer group health plans started covering an array of transgender benefits ranging from mental health counseling to gender reassignment surgery. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Share this Article:

“Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs” – House Passes Financial Reform Bill

On June 8, the House of Representatives passed the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 in a bid to reform the financial regulatory system created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  The bill, which passed the chamber on a vote of 233 to 186, has received support from the Trump Administration but is expected to face resistance in the Senate. 

If passed and signed into law, the bill would relax Dodd-Frank capital requirements, scale back the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and repeal the Volcker Rule, which limits the ability of banks to engage in proprietary trading.        Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Share this Article:

Full Steam Ahead: IRS Moves Forward to Collect Affordable Care Act Penalties

As efforts to reform the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) stall in Congress, a recent government report suggests that the Internal Revenue Service is preparing to identify and collect employer shared responsibility penalties.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued the report, Affordable Care Act: Assessment of Efforts to Implement the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision, two weeks after House leadership retracted a bid to repeal and replace the ACA.

The report indicates that the IRS processed over 400,000 Forms 1094-C (Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns) and nearly 110 million Forms 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage) as of last October.  Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , , ,

Share this Article:

A Rule Deferred: Department of Labor Delays Implementation of Fiduciary Rule

As we previously discussed in our May 19, 2016 SW Benefits Update, the Department of Labor (the “Department”) previously issued final regulations on fiduciary conflicts of interest in retirement programs.  The rules, which focus on curbing self-interested advice to retirement plan and IRA participants, were slated to become effective April 10, 2017.

However, the Department has proposed a delay to the rules of at least 180 days beyond the original effective date and will seek public comment on the rules.  The proposed deferral arises from an executive memorandum dated February 3, 2017, in which President Trump instructs the Department to conduct an “updated economic and legal analysis concerning the likely impact of the fiduciary rule.”  That memorandum signals that the fiduciary rule “may not be consistent with the policies of [the Trump] Administration.”  Accordingly, the fate of the rules in their present form remain uncertain. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits

Share this Article:

A Little Breathing Room: IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline and Good Faith Penalty Relief

The IRS delivered welcome news to employers gearing up to meet the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) information reporting deadlines for the 2016 calendar year. In Notice 2016-70, the IRS extended the deadline to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to employees.  The new deadlines are provided below.

  Old Distribution Deadline New Distribution Deadline
Form 1095-B (to employees) January 31, 2017 March 2, 2017
Form 1095-C (to employees) January 31, 2017 March 2, 2017

Importantly, the Notice does not extend the deadline for filing Forms with the IRS.  The deadline to file with the IRS remains February 28, 2016 (for paper filings) and March 31, 2017 (for electronic filings). Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share this Article:

IRS Announces 2017 Retirement Plan Dollar Limits

The IRS recently announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2017 in Notice 2016-62. The key dollar limits, along with last year’s limits, are noted below.

Maximum Qualified Retirement Plan Dollar Limits

  2016 2017
Limit on Section 401(k) deferrals (Section 402(g)) $18,000 $18,000
Dollar limitation for catch-up contributions (Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i)) $6,000 $6,000
Limit on deferrals for government and tax-exempt organization deferred compensation plans (Section 457(e)(15)) $18,000 $18,000
Annual benefit limitation for a defined benefit plan (Section 415(b)(1)(A)) $210,000 $215,000
Limitation on annual contributions to a defined contribution plan (Section 415(c)(1)(A)) $53,000 $54,000
Limitation on compensation that may be considered by qualified retirement plans (Section 401(a)(17)) $265,000 $270,000
Dollar amount for the definition of highly compensated employee (Section 414(q)(1)(B)) $120,000 $120,000
Dollar amount for the definition of a key employee in a top-heavy plan (Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i)) $170,000 $175,000
Dollar amount for determining the maximum account balance in an ESOP subject to a five-year distribution period (Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii)) $1,070,000 $1,080,000
SIMPLE retirement account limitation (Section 408(p)(2)(E)) $12,500 $12,500
Social Security Taxable Wage Base $118,500 $127,500

  Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation, Health & Welfare Plans, Qualified Retirement Plans | Tagged , , , , ,

Share this Article:

A Deeper Dive: Employers Receiving Federal Funding May Be Subject to ACA’s Nondiscrimination Rule and Need to Cover Transgender Benefits

In recent months, we have written a fair amount about providing transgender benefits in light of the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Our blogs of March 30, 2016 and June 22, 2016 highlight the key contours of the nondiscrimination rule.  In our June 22 post, we mention in passing that the final nondiscrimination rule applies to any health program or activity, any part of which receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”).  This blog provides additional clarity on what it means for a group health plan or an employer to receive federal financial assistance (“FFA”) and, by consequence, become subject to the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share this Article:

Departments Finally Publish Updated SBC Template and Instructions

On April 6, 2016, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury (the “Departments”) issued an updated Summary of Benefits and Coverage (“SBC”) template.  The latest template represents an effort by the Departments to enhance consumer access to information regarding their health care options.

Although the new template is shorter than the prior version, it includes more detailed information about cost-sharing, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits.  Moreover, the template adds a new example describing coverage for an in-network emergency room visit.  The Departments intend that these additions will provide consumers with more meaningful information as they select their medical coverage.           Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Share this Article:

Transitioning to Coverage: Three Things to Know About the New Transgender Healthcare Regulations

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued final regulations implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. As we discussed in our March 30, 2016 blog, the rule prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity in the provision of health programs.  In application, the final regulations prohibit the categorical refusal of coverage to transgender participants and require that individuals be treated consistent with their self-selected gender identity.

  1. When are the final regulations effective?

The final rule generally is effective July 18, 2016. However, group health plans and health insurance need not be modified to comply with the new nondiscrimination rules until the first day of the first plan year (in the individual market, policy year) beginning on or after January 1, 2017. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share this Article:

“A Trap for the Unwary” – Does Your Self-Funded Health Plan Provide Transgender Benefits? It Might Need to Soon.

Assistant Secretary of Labor Phyllis Borzi recently offered informal guidance on the broad scope of nondiscrimination regulations proposed under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. During her remarks at the ABA Labor Section Employee Benefits Committee Meeting in February, Ms. Borzi indicated that the proposed regulations would apply to any health plan that receives federal funds, including a self-funded plan that uses a third party administrator that receives federal funds.  Ms. Borzi characterized the proposed regulations as a “trap for the unwary,” noting that many self-funded plans assume that the nondiscrimination rules will not apply to them.  In light of Ms. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , , ,

Share this Article: