Saturday, July 15, 2023

Required Leave for Any Reason, Ozempic, and Coverage for Gender Affirming Care

Tools & Webinars:

Compliance News:

Pharmacies are Sharing Sensitive Health Data with Facebook - "Looking for an at-home HIV or Plan B test on CVS’ website is not as private an experience as one might think, and CVS is not the only pharmacy sharing this kind of sensitive health data, according to a KFF Health News investigation. We found trackers collecting browsing- and purchase-related data on websites of 12 of the U.S.’ biggest drugstores, including grocery store chains with pharmacies, and sharing the sensitive information with companies like Meta (formerly Facebook); Google, through its advertising and analytics products; and Microsoft, through its search engine, Bing."

The IRS recently issued Notice 2023-37 to update its guidance for high deductible health plans (HDHPs) on expenses related to COVID-19 testing and treatment. The notice also clarifies whether certain items and services are treated as preventive care under the tax rules for HDHPs, and confirms that for plan years ending after Dec. 31, 2024, an HDHP is not permitted to provide benefits for COVID-19 testing and treatment without a deductible. 

Open Issue: Employer-Sponsored Health Plans and Coverage of Gender-Affirming Care

June 28, 2023 – Jackson Lewis P.C.

Whether an employer-sponsored health plan must cover gender-affirming care is often dependent on whether the employer’s health plan is fully-insured or self-insured; fully-insured plans must provide gender-affirming care to the extent required by applicable state and federal law, while the law on categorical exclusions for gender-affirming care in self-insured plans continues to develop. 

Talk about an FMLA leave headache! This one was a migraine

June 27, 2023 – HR Morning

A federal appeals court rejected claims filed by terminated employees who sought FMLA leave along with many others, ruling that the employer had good reason to believe the employees acted dishonestly and sought leave for an improper purpose. Employers can also take away from this article a few tips to curb FMLA leave abuse.  

July Is the New January: The Pace of New State Laws Heats Up

June 26, 2023 – Littler Mendelson P.C.

This article offers insight into an array of labor and employment laws and ordinances from across the country, state by state, that take effect mid-year and will implicate employers’ compliance obligations. 

New Trend in State Laws, Paid Leave for Any Reason - "In May 2019, Maine became the first state in the nation to require private employers to provide paid leave for any reason when Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed LD 369. Nevada followed a month later, in June 2019, when then-Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed SB 312, which also granted paid leave for any reason. Illinois is poised to join their ranks on January 1, 2024. In March 2023, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed SB 208, which says that beginning on January 1, 2024, private employers must offer their workers five days paid time off for any reason after they’ve completed a 90-day probation period."

  • In Nevada, for example, Employers may limit the use of paid leave to 40 total hours per benefit year and may prevent an employee from using any accrued paid leave until the employee reaches their 90th day of employment. Employers may also set minimum increments of paid leave which an employee may elect to use, so long as that limit does not exceed 4 hours.

Benefits News:

A Couple Retiring in 2023 Needs $315,000 in Retirement Savings Just to Cover Medical Expenses in Addition to Medicare - "The after-tax cost for medical expenses throughout retirement for a single, 65-year-old retiree held steady at $157,500 ($315,000 for the average retired couple at the same age), according to the new 2023 Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, which tracks retiree healthcare expenses annually."

Renewals Not Looking Good for UHC Clients: "UnitedHealth Group extended its streak as the most profitable company among major national insurers in the first quarter of 2023, reporting $5.6 billion in earnings. By comparison, fellow healthcare giant CVS Health reported the second-highest profit in the quarter at $2.1 billion, less than half of UnitedHealth's haul. CVS' profit also declined year over year, as it posted nearly $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2022. UnitedHealth also takes the top spot on revenue for the quarter, reporting $91.3 billion. That's up from $80.1 billion in the prior-year quarter. CVS again lands at No. 2 on revenue, posting $85.3 billion."

Will the Doctor See You Now? The Health System's Changing Landscape - "About 48% of primary care physicians currently work in practices they do not own. Two-thirds of those doctors don’t work for other physicians but are employed by private equity investors or other corporate entities, according to data in the “Primary Care Chartbook,” which is collected and published by the Graham Center.... it now takes an average of 21 days just to get in to see a doctor of family medicine, defined as a subgroup of primary care, which includes general internists and pediatricians. Those physicians are many patients’ first stop for health care."

Health and Wellness:

Watch The Truth About Weight Loss Drug Ozempic with Dr. Peter Attia - a one-minute short.

Trusting The Science: The following is a list of the 20 largest settlements reached between the United States Department of Justice and pharmaceutical companies from 1991 to 2012 - Pfizer claims the largest criminal fine in U.S. history, while GlaxoSmithKline holds the largest pharma-fine in history when combining civil and criminal penalties.

What you need to know about Ozempic & Mounjaro - "But I want all my patients and the public to know that the appetite and weight loss effects do not last forever. Effects on hunger, cravings control, sweet cravings, mood & fullness are TEMPORARY and return to baseline between years 1 & 2. This was shown in surveys taken from patients using the medication over the long term."

Just 3% of adults show no major health risk factors linked to death - "Overall, most of us have something wrong with us, and we’re more likely to have a lifestyle health-risk factor now than in the ’80s and that’s actually associated with even greater mortality risk now than before."

Ozempic, Weight-Loss Drugs Probed Over Reports of Suicidal Thoughts - "Novo Nordisk A/S’s weight-loss medications are under investigation by the European Union’s drugs regulator after a small number of reports of suicidal risks were referred to the watchdog. The European Medicines Agency is looking at adverse events noted by the Icelandic Medicines Agency, including two cases of suicidal thoughts linked to the drugs Saxenda and Ozempic, the EMA said in a statement Monday."