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May 7, 2009

Iowa, Maine and Vermont Allow Same-sex Marriage

As of the date of this publication, the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage has increased to five: Iowa, Maine and Vermont join the ranks of Massachusetts and Connecticut in recognizing same-sex marriage (also see Benefits issues and Same-sex Marriages).

April 7, 2009

San Francisco: Mandatory Annual Reporting Requirement Due April 30, 2009

Important information for employers employing employees in San Francisco: the first required annual employer reporting obligation is due by April 30, 2009.  Covered employers must report their health care expenditures annually using the Mandatory Annual Reporting Form.

April 7, 2009

Triennial HIPAA Privacy Notice Obligation

Large group health plans that became subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rules by April 14, 2003 are fast approaching the sixth anniversary of HIPAA privacy applicability. This means that it is time to distribute the triennial reminder notice to covered individuals regarding the availability of their Notice of Privacy Practices and how to obtain one.

April 7, 2009

Medicare Mandatory Insurance Reporting

Medicare is requiring insurers, third party administrators, and self-administered, self-funded health plans, to report information about certain plan participants (see New CMS Website for Medicare Payer Reporting , Benefit Beat, September 2008, and New Medicare Reporting Obligations ,Benefit Beat, January 2008).

April 7, 2009

COBRA Subsidy Guidance from the IRS

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a part of which provides a COBRA subsidy to assistance-eligible individuals (also see COBRA Subsidy - Information Support, from the Benefit Beat, March 2009). Assistance-eligible individuals are individuals who are involuntarily terminated from employment between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009, and whose group health plan coverage is lost during that period. 

April 7, 2009

Investment Advice Regulations Postponed Again

In January, 2009, the Obama Administration suspended the effective date of the final participant investment advice regulations until March 23, 2009 (see Investment Advice, Regulations – Final? , Benefit Beat, February 2009, and Proposed Rules: Investment Advice Exemption for 401(K) Plans and IRAs , Benefit Beat, September 2008). 

March 9, 2009

New HIPAA Special Enrollment

On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed the “Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009”, which re-authorizes the program to provide health coverage for low-income children. This law will affect employers in several ways:

March 9, 2009

COBRA Subsidy - Information Support

Internal Revenue Service – With regard to the COBRA subsidy provisions contained in the recently enacted American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”), the Internal Revenue Service has posted on its website initial information designed to help employers claim credit for the COBRA medical premiums they pay for their former employees. As part of this information, the IRS has provided a set of questions and answers for employers at the following link: “COBRA: Answers for Employers.” In addition, the IRS website provides a revised version of the “Employer’s  Quarterly Federal Tax Return” (Form 941) that employers will use to claim the new COBRA premium assistance payments credit, beginning with the first quarter of 2009.

March 9, 2009

Retirement Plan, Automatic Contribution Regulations – Issued

Final regulations have been issued relating to qualified automatic contribution arrangements and eligible contribution arrangements. These concepts were established by the Pension Protection Act, and modified in the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008.” (See Benefit Beat, October, 2006 – “Default Investments: Great Expectations”).

March 9, 2009

Genetic Nondiscrimination Regulations - Proposed

Last May, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008(“GINA”) (See Benefit Beat, June, 2008 – “New Law Prohibits Genetic Discrimination”). On March 2, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued proposed regulations defining this law. The comment period for these proposed regulations will be open for 60 days, after which, the EEOC will finalize the regulations, hopefully, on time for the law’s implementation dates.

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