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November 5, 2009
Civil Penalties for HiTech Violations
On October 30, 2009, interim final regulations were issued by HHS’ Office for Civil Rights relating to civil monetary penalties, arising from violations of the HiTech law (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). These rules amend the four tiers of civil penalties that can be imposed upon covered entities, as defined by the HIPAA Administrative Simplification laws, to provide for penalties in the event of any HITECH violations relating to breach of medical information (seeBreach Notification Rules Issued). Below is the revised table of potential penalties:
COBRA Subsidy Extensions Proposed
At least two bills have recently been introduced in Congress that would extend the COBRA subsidy period:
Expansion of FMLA Leave for Military Families
The Family and Medical Leave Act, was amended in January, 2008, to provide two new types of leave, both relating to military families: one for Exigency Leave, and one for Caregiver Leave (see prior Benefit Beat articles:Final FMLA Regulations andFMLA Brings Benefits to Military Families).
Notice Reminders: Medicare Part D
October 8, 2009
The Enforcers….Are You Ready?
The Obama Administration has had 8 months to place people into administrative roles. We are now deemed to get a flavor for how things will be handled.
New Retirement and Savings Initiatives
Amid the flurry of health-related activity ranging from H1N1 preparedness, to health system reform, the Obama Administration has found time to begin placing its mark on retirement savings, as well. Within a span of just of couple of days, the IRS issued several Retirement and Savings Initiatives; and, the DOL issued a Field Assistance Bulletin, all in an effort to facilitate individual savings. Following is a brief summary of some of these pronouncements. It is important to note that these are not new laws; rather, interpretations of existing law.
HSA Comparability Rules Clarified
Final regulations were issued relating to employer comparable contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs). These rules basically follow the proposed regulations issued in 2008.
September 10, 2009
Breach Notification Rules Issued
On August 24th and 25th, 2009, respectively, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (“Agencies”) issued interim and final regulations relating to breach notification of personal health information. These regulations become effective on September 23rd and 24th, 2009; however, both Agencies have indicated that they will honor a “non-enforcement policy” for six months from the date of issuance. In effect, this non-enforcement policy will be in place until February 24th and 25th, 2010; thereafter, affected entities must be fully in compliance. While these two sets of rules are similar, they are not identical.
Massachusetts Proposes Changes to Fair Share Contribution Requirements
A few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) issued proposed regulations relating to the Employer Fair Share Contribution (FSC) rules. The proposed rules make several technical changes to the rules that became effective January 1, 2009 (see Massachusetts Fair Share Requirement Relaxed and Massachusetts Fair Share Filing – Streamlined). In summary, the FSC rules impose an annual financial fee assessment ($295 per employee) upon employers who do not provide, or contribute toward, health coverage for their employees.
DOL COBRA Subsidy Reminders
The IRS has provided new guidance on its website relating to the COBRA subsidy, and particularly the obligation of a COBRA-subsidy eligible individual to notify the plan if he/she becomes ineligible for the subsidy. An individual becomes ineligible for the COBRA subsidy when, among other things, he/she becomes eligible for other group health plan coverage or Medicare. Notably, this guidance states that anyone who suspects that an individual may be receiving the COBRA subsidy but is eligible for other group health coverage or Medicare, to report this information to the IRS on the Form 3949-A, Information Referral.