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June 4, 2008
Legislative Watch: “HEROES Act”
As we go to press, President Bush is expected to sign H.R. 6081, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (“Heroes Act”). This law would, among other things:
May 12, 2008
Medicare Part D – 2009 Benefit Limits
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released the 2009 cost of living adjustments for Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits. The following are selected modified limits relating to the standard drug benefit and the retiree drug subsidy.
HSA Comparability Rules – Finalized
Regulations relating to two very specific aspects of HSA administration were issued on April 17, 2008. These regulations mirror the proposed regulations issued on June 1, 2007. (See HSA Guidance Again: Comparability Rules Re-Visited, from June ’07 Benefit Beat).
Economic Stimulus Payment: What To Do?
On an individual’s 2007 tax return, the individual had the right to elect that any tax refund be automatically contributed to a tax-favored account such as a health savings account, an IRA or a §529 education plan, among others. If an individual elected this option, any economic stimulus payment due the individual will, likewise, be made to the tax-favored account.
April 3, 2008
Retiree Health And Medicare Coordination – The Final Chapter
For the last several years there has been uncertainty about whether employers could coordinate retiree health coverage with Medicare, (see Retiree Health and Age Discrimination … The Final Scene? , Retiree Health Coordination on the Move Again?, Retiree Health Rules Rolling Again, and Coordination of Retiree Health Benefits with Medicare). On March 24, 2008, the United States Supreme Court, by refusing to review the matter, wrote the final chapter.
Employer Coverage? TRICARE? Beware!
Effective January 1, 2008, secondary payer rules similar to the Medicare rules became applicable to group health plans covering individuals entitled to TRICARE, the health coverage available to families of military personnel, (see New TRICARE Provisions Affect Group Health Plans from Nov. ’06 Benefit Beat). The primary goal of this law is to insure that employers do not unduly shift the risk for health coverage to TRICARE. Specifically, employers, whether sponsoring insured or self-funded health plans, cannot, in any way, incent TRICARE eligible individuals to decline or drop employer-sponsored coverage in favor of TRICARE.
March 11, 2008
Safe Harbor for Placing Participant Contributions in Small Plans
The DOL has just issued some proposed regulations that would create a safe harbor for small pension and welfare benefit plans (those with fewer than 100 participants); specifically relating to placement of participant contributions in trust. Generally, participant contributions to retirement plans must be placed in the plan at the earliest time possible; but, in no event, later than the 15th business day of the month, following the month in which the contribution is withheld. For welfare benefit plans, contributions must be deposited within 90 days of withholding.
Supreme Court: Participant Can Sue for Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Individual account plan officials should take note of a recent Supreme Court opinion. In the case of LaRuev . DeWolff, Boberg & Assocs., Inc., No. 06-856, 2008 WL 440748 (Feb. 20, 2008), the Supreme Court unanimously granted a plan participant the right to bring an action on his own behalf for the failure of the plan officials to follow his investment instructions. The important of this Opinion lies in the facts that the participant could bring an action due to the failure, specific to his own account, and not to the plan at large.
Compliance Checklist for Wellness Programs
The DOL has issued a helpful tool, in the form ofField Assistance Bulletin 2008-02, for determining whether a wellness program is subject to the HIPAA nondiscrimination rules.
New Proposed FMLA Regulations
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) top is about to be spun, or, may be turned on its head. A law that has been in effect nearly 15 years with little legislative or regulatory change, has been hit with both in the first two months of 2008 (see January’s Benefit Beat, FMLA Brings Benefits to Military Families). On February 11, 2008, the Department of Labor issued proposed regulations that will, if finalized, make some important changes that employers need to know.