Employee Benefits

INSIGHTS AND LEGAL UPDATES ABOUT PRIVATE SECTOR EMPLOYEE BENEFITS AND COMPENSATION PLANS.

On June 17, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected another attempt to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) in its highly-anticipated decision in Texas v. California.  However, instead of ruling on the central issue in the case—whether the ACA was rendered unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the individual tax penalty for failing to obtain health insurance—the Court dispatched the case on a procedural technicality.  In a 7:2 decision authored by Justice Breyer, the…
On June 14, 2021, the Department Labor (“DOL”) issued Information Letter 06-14-2021 to address whether ERISA requires plan fiduciaries to produce audio recordings and transcripts of telephone conversations between plan insurers and claimants. The issue arose from a plan insurer’s denial of a claimant’s request for an audio recording.  When it denied the request, the plan insurer stated that the “recordings are for ‘quality assurance purposes,’” and “are not created, maintained, or relied upon for…
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) released its highly-anticipated interim final rule (the “IFR”) on July 9, 2021, providing methodology for calculating the amount of special financial assistance (“SFA”) available to certain financially troubled multiemployer pension plans (“MEPPs”) under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”).  The IFR also sets out additional details on the SFA application process and how SFA awards are treated for purposes of withdrawal liability calculation.  The following summarizes certain…
On July 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and Office of Personnel Management issued their first installment of interim final surprise billing regulations.  As explained in a prior post, the regulations implement new requirements for group health plans, health insurance issuers, and healthcare providers and facilities that were imposed by the bipartisan No Surprises Act, which was enacted as part of a 2020…
The Internal Revenue Service released updates to its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (“EPCRS”) in Revenue Procedure 2021-30.  Key changes to the EPCRS include: Extending the self-correction period for significant operational failures from two to three years, effective July 16, 2021; Eliminating the requirement that retroactive plan amendments for self correction benefit all plan participants, effective July 16, 2021; Eliminating the ability to make anonymous submissions but allowing anonymous no-cost pre-submission conferences to discuss…
On June 8, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent proposed regulations limiting surprise billing to the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”).  The proposed regulations would implement the bipartisan No Surprises Act, which was enacted as part of a 2020 appropriations act.  OMB must review the proposed regulations before they can be issued by HHS. The No Surprise Act limits unanticipated bills for medical treatment obtained from non-network providers…
On Friday, May 28, 2021, the Congressional Research Service (“CRS”) released its analysis of Multiemployer Defined Benefit Pension Plans (“MEPPs”) that are potentially eligible for special financial assistance under the American Rescue Plan Act, 2021 (“ARPA”).  As we previously discussed in our article on ARPA’s special assistance for financially troubled MEPPs, a MEPP is eligible for financial assistance if it meets at least one of the following conditions: It is in critical and declining status…
The Department of Health and Human Services has stated that it will restore transgender and LGBTQ+ health care protections. Under the Trump Administration, HHS had defined the term “sex” narrowly to mean gender assigned at birth. This had the consequence of excluding transgender and other LGBTQ+ individuals from protection against discrimination in health care. The Biden Administration has now reversed that policy. This change aligns HHS enforcement with a June 2020 Supreme Court case, Bostock
On Tuesday, May 18, 2021 the IRS issued Notice 2021-31 providing 86 FAQs related to premium assistance for COBRA benefits under the American Rescue Plan Act, 2021. The full text version of the FAQs is available below. These provide additional guidance on, among other things: Whether an individual has had an “involuntary” termination, including employee-initiated terminations that could be considered constructive discharges under all of the facts and circumstances; Whether an individual has had a…
The IRS released 2022 cost-of-living adjustments for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) in Revenue Procedure 2021-25, which will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2021-21 on May 24, 2021. 2022 HSA Contribution Limits. For 2022, individuals enrolled in a high-deductible health plan may make pre-tax contributions of up to $3,650 to an HSA if they have self-only coverage (an increase from $3,600 for 2021), or up to $7,300 if they…