Friday, March 21, 2014

Benefit News Clips, Week of March 21st

Health Care Reform News:

Implementing Health Reform: Exchange And Insurance Market Standards Proposed Rule
March 16, 2014 – Timothy Jost – Health Affairs Blog
On March 14, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published a proposed rule titled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Exchange and Insurance Market Standards.” The rule was accompanied by a bulletin on product discontinuance, one of the issues addressed by the rule. The proposed rule was one of a number of March 14 ACA issuances, the rest of which were addressed in earlier posts.

Employers Raise U.S. Worker Deductibles to Cut Health Costs
March 12, 2014 – Caroline Chen- Bloomberg
Four of five U.S. companies have raised deductibles or are considering doing so as health costs increase, according to a survey of more than 700 employers.

Longer mandate delay for some who saw health plans canceled
March 12, 2014 – Elise Viebeck – The Hill
The Obama administration is allowing some people with canceled health plans to avoid penalties under the individual mandate for an additional two years. The little noticed change, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, came as part of the administration's decision last week to extend its "keep your plan" fix through 2016.

In Other News:

EEOC and FTC Issue Joint Guidance on Employment Background Checks
March 17, 2014 – Alston & Bird
Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal antidiscrimination laws, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), jointly published two guides on conducting background checks for employment purposes. The publications are an attempt by the agencies to apprise employees of their rights and educate employers on their responsibilities under the laws enforced by the agencies.

Can an Employer Designate FMLA Leave When an Employee Refuses to Provide Medical Certification?
March 14, 2014-FMLA Insights
Excerpt: “In our workplace, when an employee doesn't want to take FMLA leave, they simply refuse to return medical certification to us. In these instances, can we designate the absence as FMLA leave even though we do not have certification? Here, you have two options:”

EEOC issues new religion in workplace rules
March 10, 2014 – Eric Meyer - BenefitsPro
Late last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission scored a big victory when a federal judge found apparel company Abercrombie & Fitch liable for religious discrimination after it fired a Muslim employee for wearing her hijab (a religious headscarf) in the workplace, rather than accommodating her religious beliefs.