The 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act), enacted on December 13, 2016, provides a new opportunity for small employers to help employees pay for health insurance: the “qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement” (QSEHRA). Under QSEHRA, certain small employers can give their employees pre-tax dollars to pay for premiums and other medical expenses, so long as the QSEHRA meets certain standards.
Patricia Moran is Of Counsel in the firm’s Boston office. She counsels clients on employee benefits and compensation matters and has extensive experience with health and welfare plan matters, including the Affordable Care Act’s employer and insurance mandates, the Massachusetts “Fair Share” employer mandate, COBRA, HIPAA, wellness, and mental health parity. Patricia counsels clients on retirement plan matters, including 401(k) and 403(b) plan compliance. She has represented clients in government audits and examinations related to their health and welfare plans. Patricia frequently writes and speaks on a variety of employee benefits related matters.
For employers who want to attract and retain the best talent, a robust benefits package is a must. But with political shifts and changing compliance burdens, keeping up with benefits requirements is a daunting task.
First and foremost, employers are concerned about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA has recently been in the news as a result of the failure of the Republican controlled Congress to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Based loosely on a whitepaper issued by House Speaker Paul Ryan entitled A Better Way, the AHCA was passed by two Committees of the U.S. House of Representatives that collectively were intended to “repeal and replace” the ACA. (We explained the Ryan proposal here, and we cover the implications of the collapse of the AHCA here.)
On October 21, 2016, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued a FAQ providing indefinite relief for employers who subsidize student health insurance coverage.
Uber, Lyft, and their competitors, offering handy apps, responsive drivers and competitive prices, are fast becoming a favored commuter option. Many employers either subsidize employee commuter expenses or allow employees to pay for commuter expenses through payroll deductions. Under current law (Internal Revenue Code Section 132(f)) and regulation, these expenses can be tax-free (up to certain dollar limits) if they are incurred through qualifying commuter highway vehicles, van pools, transit passes, parking, and bicycles. Many employers and employees are asking: can Uber and Lyft commutes be provided tax-free?
The Department of Labor’s new overtime rules take effect December 1, 2016, and employers across the country are carefully reviewing and modifying their compensation and payroll practices in anticipation. As part of this preparation, employers must consider whether and how any changes to their compensation structures will affect their employee benefit plans. This post examines some of the employee benefits issues that employers should be considering as the December 1 deadline approaches.
As the ACA audit era approaches, many employers are wondering: what will happen? What sorts of documentation will the IRS request? What industries will be targeted? And what can employers do to prepare? In this post, I discuss what employers might expect based on my experience with audits under the Massachusetts Fair Share law, and provide some tips for audit preparation and troubleshooting.
Even though the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate is in effect and fully phased-in, it has been our experience that few employers have bothered to review their employee handbooks to reflect the ACA. Below we discuss how employers may bolster their ACA compliance (and avoid ACA penalties) through an ACA-focused employee handbook review.
On February 5, 2016, the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (the Departments) issued guidance addressing the application of market reforms and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to student health coverage, and providing temporary transition relief from enforcement by the Departments for non-compliant employers.
Health and welfare have been around for a long time, and they are ubiquitous. Employees have come to expect medical, dental, life, and other insurance as part of their benefits packages. Employers offer coverage in order to reward employees, attract the best talent, and now, under the Affordable Care Act, avoid penalties. Historically, these plans posed few regulatory concerns for employers, despite that the applicable laws and regulations have become increasingly complicated with each passing decade. With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, however, the applicable legal and regulatory concerns have reached a tipping point. The burdens of compliance and the penalties for non-compliance are now more ominous than ever. This post examines the compliance environment of health and welfare plans generally and group health plans in particular.
When it comes to telling their employees about certain benefits, many employers have for decades (since 1974 to be exact) flouted a particular provision of the law with impunity. The law to which we refer is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and the provision relates to the requirement that the employer tell employees about the salient plan terms by providing them with a Summary Plan Description or “SPD.” The Affordable Care Act alters the regulatory landscape on this score. And while the ACA did not change the requirements that apply to SPDs, it radically changes the surrounding compliance environment. Complying with the SPD requirements all of a sudden looks not only like a good idea, but it also rises—dare we say—to a best or at least highly recommended practice.
In response to this changing environment, we recommend using a “wrap document,” which as we explain below, allows employers to satisfy the ERISA SPD and other disclosure requirements.