Congress Giveth and They Taketh Away — Recent Health Plan Changes

In enacting the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, (the “Act”), Congress, among other changes, enacted the following key changes affecting employer group health plans:

  • Repeal of the Cadillac Tax:  Most notably, and a huge relief to most employers, Congress repealed the Cadillac tax.   The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) added a requirement requiring employers to pay a 40% excise tax on the value of “rich” health plans (i.e., those that exceed $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family, indexed for inflation).  The excise tax was originally scheduled to take effect for taxable years beginning after 2017, but it was delayed two years by subsequent legislation.
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Will the ACA Stay or Will it Go?

After surviving two Supreme Court cases and numerous repeal efforts, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) is in jeopardy again. Despite the law’s uncertainty, employers may want to continue their compliance efforts because: (1) the ACA is currently the law and there are significant penalties for noncompliance; and (2) for the reasons stated below complete repeal is anything but certain.

First, we do not know whether the law will be repealed outright.  Although Republicans control Congress, they do not have a supermajority in the Senate.  This means that, unless current filibuster law changes, Democratic Senators could block a bill to repeal the ACA entirely. Read More ›

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Five Lawsuits Filed Against DOL’s Fiduciary Rule (so far)

As we previously discussed in our May 19, 2016 SW Benefits Update, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued final regulations on fiduciary conflicts of interest in retirement programs.  Since 2010 when the DOL first proposed regulations addressing self-interested advice to retirement plan and IRA participants, the rule has been widely criticized by some in the financial services industry as being overly broad.

Both Congress and industry and trade groups have been unhappy with the DOL’s rulemaking in this area and have threatened further action since the rule was first proposed. On May 24, the Senate passed a resolution to block the fiduciary rule, which President Obama vetoed on June 8. Read More ›

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Harkin Unveils USA Retirement Funds Act

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) recently unveiled his plan to improve the private retirement system.  Senator Harkin’s proposal was the third recent proposal targeting retirement plan savings.  President Obama introduced his myRA program during the State of the Union address and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the Retirement Security Act of 2014 on January 29.

Senator Harkin’s bill, the Universal, Secure, and Adaptable (USA) Retirement Funds Act of 2014 (“USA Retirement Funds”), proposes to offer payroll deductions, particularly to workers who do not have access to employer-provided retirement plans.  Under Senator Harkin’s bill, workers would be automatically enrolled in the program at six percent of pay and could contribute up to $10,000 pre-tax per year.  Read More ›

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Obama Administration Announces Plan for “Starter” Retirement Accounts

In his State of the Union address on January 28, President Obama announced that he will use his executive authority to direct the Treasury Department to create “myRA”, a starter retirement savings account program.

According to White House Fact Sheet, a myRA will be available to individuals who do not have access to workplace retirement plans with household incomes of up to $191,000 annually.  Participants may save up to $15,000, or for a maximum of 30 years, in their accounts before transferring the accounts to a private sector Roth IRA.  Amounts in a myRA will be invested in government savings bonds and will benefit from principal protection so the principal investment will not go down in value. Read More ›

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