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June 8, 2009
COBRA Subsidy Appeals Process Established
If an individual’s request to be treated as a COBRA-subsidy eligible individual is denied (see prior Benefit Beat articles: COBRA Subsidy Guidance from the IRS and COBRA Subsidy - Information Support), then he/she may request a review of the denial from the Department of Labor. One can obtain information and apply for the review of the denial via the DOL’s website. If the continuation coverage is provided through a federal, state or local government plan, or provided in accordance with a state’s mini-COBRA law, then the individual should direct their request for review of the denial to the Department of Health and Human Services.
May 7, 2009
San Francisco: Health Care Ordinance Updates
As a follow-up to our November 2008 Benefit Beat article, San Francisco’s Health Care Ordinance Challenged Again, the Court of Appeals denied the GGRA's request for a rehearing en banc on March 9, 2009. Thus, the employer spending requirement of San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance continues to be in effect.
Pandemic Flu Basics
The swine flu (H1N1) appears to have the potential to create a significant health issue. As of 4/30/09, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5.
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).
Medicare Part D – 2010 Benefit Limits
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released the 2010 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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.