Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Benefit Clips: New PPACA Enforcement; 25% Exchange Rate Increases; New FSA Limits and More

It was a particularly news-filled week in benefits, here are the highlights:  

Health Care Reform News

Average premiums for popular ACA plans rising 25 percent
October 24, 2016 – The Washington Post
Excerpt: “The 25 percent spike is the average increase, among 38 states that rely on the federal insurance exchange, for the health plans on which the tax credits are based — the policy in each part of the country that has the second-lowest rate among plans offering a “silver” tier of coverage…Among the states relying on, the typical number of plans available is declining by more than one-third, from 47 to 30. Competition is falling in all but four of those states, though the decrease varies significantly. In Florida, the average marketplace customer will actually have three more plan choices. In Arizona, however, the number of plans will plummet from 65 to four. And 21 percent of the customers shopping in the federal exchange will find only one insurance company, compared with just 2 percent for 2016.”

Health Care Information Reporting: Seven Things Employers Can Think About Now
October 26, 2016 – The Internal Revenue Service
Excerpt: “The ACA Assurance Testing System opens November 7, 2016 for tax year 2016 testing. Software developers – including employers and issuers who passed AATS for tax year 2015 – will not have to retest for tax year 2016; the Tax Year Software Packages will be moved into Production status. New participants need to comply with test requirements for tax year 2016.”

Another Party Enters ACA Enforcement and HIPAA Privacy and Security Enforcement Expands
October 25, 2016 – Winstead PC.
Excerpt: “Effective on and after October 13, 2016, employers need to watch their mail from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) for notices related to ACA retaliation claims under the new regulatory framework for the retaliation claims. An individual can claim that there was an adverse employment action (discrimination up to and including termination) in retaliation for the individual’s claiming a right under Title I of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) or being a whistleblower complaining of a violation of Title I of the ACA.”

January 1st is Quickly Approaching – Have you Reviewed your Health Plan for Section 1557 Compliance?
October 24, 2016 – Jackson Lewis PC
Excerpt: “As we previously noted, the regulations may not directly apply to many employee health plans because neither the sponsoring employer nor the plan receives HHS funding. However, HHS has noted that it may refer discriminatory plans and employers to other government agencies (such as the EEOC), so it is a good idea for all plan sponsors to review their plans to see if any discriminatory provisions need to be amended or removed.”

In Other News:

Health FSA Limit Will Increase for 2017
October 26, 2016 – BB&T Insurance Services
Excerpt: “On October 25, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released…the FSA dollar limit on employee salary reduction contributions to $2,600 for taxable years beginning in 2017.”

EEOC’s 2016 Wellness Program Regulations, The Saga Continues…
October 26, 2016 – Jackson Lewis PC
Excerpt: “This suit is the first to specifically challenge the EEOC’s 2016 ADA Rule and GINA Rule. AARP, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs and interests of people age fifty and older, is concerned that older workers will be disproportionately affected by these regulations because older workers are more likely to have medical issues that would be disclosed to employers by medical questionnaires and could potentially expose these employee to discrimination by their employer.”

IRS adjusts 2017 LTCI and FSA limits
October 25, 2016 – LifeHealthPRO
Excerpt: “The new long-term care insurance deduction caps are given in IRS Revenue Procedure 2016-55, which gives the inflation-adjusted 2017 amounts for many different tax provisions. The 2016 amounts are in IRS Revenue Procedure 2015-53. The maximum amount an employee can contribute to a flexible spending arrangement will increase to $2,600, up 2 percent from the current flexible spending account contribution limit.”

Bay Area Employers Requirement to Offer Commuter Benefits Extended Indefinitely
October 25, 2016 – Wage Works
Excerpt: “On September 22, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-1128 making the pilot program, with slight changes, permanent, meaning it DOES NOT expire on December 31, 2016…A Covered Employer is an employer that has 50 or more full-time employees (worked an average of at least 30 hours per week during the previous calendar month) who work within the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Compliance Clips: What if an Employer Cannot Pay Its Obamacare Penalties and Final Forms for 2016 ACA Reporting Now Released

Section 4980H Penalties Are Looming – What if an Employer Cannot Pay, from Health Care Attorneys P.C.:
We are entering the last quarter of the 2016 calendar year which means the penalties related to section 4980H for 2015 will soon be assessed against employers. At the latest, the 2015 section 4980H penalties will be assessed in the first quarter of 2017. Whenever the penalties are assessed, the government will be presented, perhaps for the first time in history, with an interesting conundrum....

And from BB&T's Compliance Team: Final Forms for ACA Reporting Released. On Sept. 30, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the final 2016 Forms 1094-C and 1095-C used by applicable large employers (ALEs) to report under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 and 6056. The newly released forms finalized changes that were reflected in the 2016 draft forms, released on July 6, 2016.

As a reminder, ALEs will not have the extension to file they had in 2016 for 2015 forms. 2016 forms are due to employees/covered individuals by Jan. 31, 2017, and must be filed with the IRS by Feb. 28, 2017 (or March 31, 2017, if filing electronically).

Final instructions for the forms were also released and provide employers with a few clarifications, including the following:
  • Transition Relief: Certain transition relief was available to ALEs for 2015 under Section 4980H and Section 6056, but only limited transition relief remains for 2016. Any references to transition relief that applied to calendar year 2015 only have been removed and descriptions of the remaining forms of transition relief have been amended to clarify for which months in 2016 the transition relief applies.  
  • Aggregated ALE Groups: The final instructions provide employers with clarifying information on how filings by ALEs that are part of an Aggregated ALE Group, including clarification that each member of the group must file regarding its own full-time employees. The instructions also include an example on how to file for employees who work for more than one member of an Aggregated ALE Group.
  • COBRA (and other post-employment coverage): Clarifying language was added on how to report offers of COBRA and other post-employment (non-COBRA) coverage. Offers of COBRA or other post-employment coverage to former employees and their family members should not be entered as offers of coverage on Line 14. However, an offer of COBRA coverage to a current employee who remains employed should be entered as an offer of coverage.
  • Qualifying Offer Method: The instructions clarify ALEs using the Qualifying Offer Method may, but are not required to, enter a safe harbor code on Line 16 when using Code 1A on Line 14.
  • Code 1G: The instructions clarify Code 1G applies for the entire year or not at all. If Code 1G applies, an ALE should enter Code 1G on Line 14 of the 1095-C in the "All 12 Months" column or in each separate monthly box for all 12 months.
  • Affordability Safe Harbor Codes: The instructions clarify the affordability safe harbor codes should not be used on Line 16 of Form 1095-C for any month the ALE did not offer minimum essential coverage (MEC) to at least 95% of its full-time employees and their dependents.
For a detailed discussion of both the finalized forms and their accompanying instructions, please see our legislative alert here.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

New Employment Laws in California in 2017 | Summaries from Three Top Firms

From the Miller Law Group: (Hat tip to Jennifer Moore for the pointer.)
The 2015-16 California legislative session has come to a close, and of the hundreds of bills Governor Brown has signed, there are a number of important measures that will impact employers. Here is an overview of new workplace-related laws, organized by bill number. Unless otherwise specified, these laws take effect on January 1, 2017. ...
Here is Proskauer's take on the Golden State's new laws.

And this is from Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger LLP covering all employment-related bills signed and vetoed by the governor.

For solely a summary on the newly signed Health Laws, see the California Healthline summary.