Trump picks former Lilly drug executive as health secretary

We're sure you've seen it trending. Here is the latest on Alex Azar of Eli Lilly & Co - President Trump's nominee for head of the Department of Health and Human Services.


(Bloomberg) – President Donald Trump named former Eli Lilly & Co. executive Alex Azar to lead the Department of Health and Human Services after agency’s past chief resigned amid blowback over his taxpayer-funded private jet travel.

“Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary. He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!” Trump tweeted Monday.

If confirmed, Azar will take over the administration’s management of the Affordable Care Act. Trump and Congressional Republicans have called to repeal the health law, and the administration has taken steps to destabilize it, such as cutting funding for some programs and refusing to pay subsidies to health insurers. He’ll also be a key figure on drug costs.

Bloomberg/file photo

Trump has been highly critical of the drug industry, saying that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder” and threatening to use the federal government’s buying power to bring down prices.

Drug Costs

However he’s taken no concrete action yet to do much on prices, and the former drug executive’s appointment may continue the trend of strong talk but little action, said Spencer Perlman, director of health-care research at Veda Partners, a policy analysis firm.

“It is very unlikely the administration will take aggressive regulatory actions to control prescription drug prices,” Perlman said in a note to clients Monday. “The administration’s tepid response to drug pricing has not matched the president’s heated rhetoric.”

Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a consulting firm, also didn’t think Azar represented a change in direction on pharmaceutical policy. “His appointment will not change the president’s rhetoric,” Mendelson said in a phone interview.

Before his time at Lilly, Azar served as deputy secretary at HHS under President George W. Bush. One former Obama administration official said that experience could help him at the agency.

“While we certainly differ in a number of important policy areas, I have reason to hope he would make a good HHS secretary,” said Andy Slavitt, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the last administration and who has been a frequent critic of efforts to derail Obamacare. Slavitt said he hoped Azar would “avoid repeating this mistakes of his predecessor over-politicizing Americans’ access to health care.”

Running Obamacare

Azar, who ran Indianapolis-based Lilly’s U.S. operations until earlier this year, has been an advocate for more state flexibility under Obamacare. That matches up with what Republicans have pushed for, such as in a seemingly stalled bipartisan bill to fund insurer subsidies that help lower-income people with health costs.

As secretary, Azar would have broad authority over the program.

“I’m not one to say many good things about Obamacare, but one of the nice things in it is it does give a tremendous amount authority to the secretary,” Azar said during an interview with Bloomberg TV in June. “There are still changes that can be made to make it work a little better than it has been.”

There are signs that the law is gaining popular support despite the repeal efforts. In recent state elections in Virginia, Democrats won a competitive governors race that saw health care emerge as a top issue. In Maine, residents voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Early enrollment in Obamacare plans earlier this month was also up considerably compared to last year.

Trump’s first HHS secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September after his extensive use of private and military jets at taxpayer expense was revealed. Azar must be approved by the Senate.

Senate Confirmation

Senator Orrin Hatch, who heads the Senate Finance Committee that will review Azar’s nomination, called on Trump’s pick to help “right the wrongs of this deeply flawed law.”

“For too long, hardworking, middle-class families have been forced to bear the brunt of Obamacare’s failures in the form of higher premiums and fewer choices,” Hatch said in a statement.

Ron Wyden, the senior Democrat on the panel, said he would closely scrutinize Azar’s record.

“At every turn, the president has broken his promises to American families to lower health care costs, expand access, and bring down the high price of prescription drugs,” Wyden said in a statement.

Azar left Lilly in January, several months after another senior executive was named to succeed then-CEO John Lechleiter. A lawyer by training, Azar previously clerked for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

You can read the original article here.

Source:

Employee Benefit Advisors (13 November 2017). "Trump picks former Lilly drug executive as health secretary" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/articles/trump-picks-former-lilly-drug-executive-as-health-secretary?tag=00000151-16d0-def7-a1db-97f024b50000

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Critical compliance changes for next year: An open enrollment checklist

Keeping up-to-date with health care is one of our top priorities. From HR Morning, here is a comprehensive list of everything you need to know so far going into 2018.


As HR pros immerse themselves in negotiating plan changes for this year’s open enrollment, it’s critical to keep these new 2018 regulation changes front and center.

To help, here’s a checklist of changes you’ll need to be aware of when making plan-design moves:

1. Mental Health Parity reg changes enforced

Beginning January 1, 2018, plans that require “fail first” or “step therapy” could violate the Parity Act’s “non-quantitative treatment limitation” (NQTL) rules. Under the NQTL rules, plans can’t be more restrictive for mental health/substance abuse benefits than they are for medical/surgical ones.

Here’s an example of a fail-first strategy: Requiring mental health or addiction patients to try an intensive outpatient program before admission to an inpatient treatment if the same restriction doesn’t apply to medical/surgical benefits.

2. New Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) template

Under the ACA, plans were required to start using the new SBC template on or after April 1, 2017.

For calendar year plans, that means this is the first enrollment with the new template, which includes new coverage examples and updates about cost-sharing. You can find more details on and instructions for the new form here: bit.ly/temp544

3. Women’s preventive care

The Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines were updated for 2018 calendar plans to include a number of items that must be covered without any cost-sharing. The list includes breast cancer screenings for average-risk women, screenings for cervical cancer, diabetes mellitus and more.

 

See the original article here.

Source:

Bilski J. (17 October 2017). "Critical compliance changes for next year: An open enrollment checklist" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/critical-compliance-changes-for-next-year-an-open-enrollment-checklist/


4 Main Impacts of Yesterday's Executive Order

Yesterday, President Trump used his pen to set his sights on healthcare having completed the signing of an executive order after Congress failed to repeal ObamaCare.

Here’s a quick dig into some of what this order means and who might be impacted from yesterday's signing.

A Focus On Small Businesses

The executive order eases rules on small businesses banding together to buy health insurance, through what are known as association health plans, and lifts limits on short-term health insurance plans, according to an administration source. This includes directing the Department of Labor to "modernize" rules to allow small employers to create association health plans, the source said. Small businesses will be able to band together if they are within the same state, in the same "line of business," or are in the same trade association.

Skinny Plans

The executive order expands the availability of short-term insurance policies, which offer limited benefits meant as a bridge for people between jobs or young adults no longer eligible for their parents’ health plans. This extends the limited three-month rule under the Obama administration to now nearly a year.

Pretax Dollars

This executive order also targets widening employers’ ability to use pretax dollars in “health reimbursement arrangements”, such as HSAs and HRAs, to help workers pay for any medical expenses, not just for health policies that meet ACA rules. This is a complete reversal of the original provisions of the Obama policy.

Research and Get Creative

The executive order additionally seeks to lead a federal study on ways to limit consolidation within the insurance and hospital industries, looking for new and creative ways to increase competition and choice in health care to improve quality and lower cost.


BREAKING: Health Care Bill Moves to Debate on Senate Floor with 51-50 vote

In case you haven't heard, the motion to debate a version of the Health Care Bill after multiple renditions that has been dragging it's way through congress and stalled in the Senate has just been successfully passed with a narrow vote of 51-50 in favor with Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. The bill has a long road ahead and likely a vast number of revisions.

You can keep an eye on relevant news from our Navigator page right here on our own website.  We know it is overwhelming to try to keep up with all of the news from all of the disparate sources. Our Navigator resource simply works to curate content from a variety of trusted, non-partisan sites across the internet and bring them to a central location to provide you a trusted place to stay-up-to-date on Health Care news at a glance.

 


Source: Wall Street Journal, Daniel Nasaw,Michelle Hackman

Access Live Updates on the Motion Here: http://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/senate-obamacare-repeal-and-replace-vote

Moments ago:

Vice President Mike Pence just broke the 50-50 tie. The motion to proceed passes and the Senate will now begin debate on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

With the motion passed, Senators will now proceed to 20 hours of debate on several proposals repealing parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, including their replacement package and a separate bill repealing the law with a two-year delay.

They are expected to debate numerous amendments – not counted toward the 20 hours – including proposals put forward by Democrats....


 

 

 


Executive order forces DOL to enact final rule on paid sick leave

Interesting read about the new DOL final rule from Employee Benefit Adviser, by Leanne Mehrman

The U.S. Department of Labor acted on President Obama’s Executive Order 13706 (EO) and released a final rule implementing the requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors to provide employees with paid sick leave. Specifically, contractors must provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on or in connection with a covered contract, for at least 56 hours per year, and subject to certain limitations. The requirements will take effect for covered contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2017.

An employee may use the leave for his or her own physical or mental illness, injury, medical condition, treatment or diagnosis as well as that of any person with whom the employee has a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship, regardless of biological or legal relationship. This includes such relationships as grandparent and grandchild, brother- and sister-in-law, fiancé and fiancée, cousin, aunt, and uncle. It could also include others with whom the employee has a family-like relationship such as a foster child or foster parent, a friend of a family, or even an elderly neighbor in certain circumstances.

An employee may also use the leave for absences from work resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if the leave is for the reasons described above or to obtain additional counseling, seek relocation, seek assistance from a victim services organization or to take related legal action. The leave for domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking is available for the employee and for the employee to assist a related individual as described above.

Covered contracts: The EO and Final Rule apply to contracts and contract-like instruments (which will be defined in DOL regulations) if the contract is:

  • a procurement contract for services or construction;
  • a contract for services covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA);
  • a contract for concessions, including any concessions contract excluded by DOL regulations at 29 CFR 4.133(b); or
  • a contract or contract-like instrument entered into with the federal government in connection with federal property or lands and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public; and

The wages of employees under these contracts are covered by the Davis Bacon Act (DBA), the SCA or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including employees who are exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime provisions.
For contracts covered by the SCA or DBA, the EO and Final Rule apply only to contracts at the thresholds specified by those statutes. For procurement contracts in which employees' wages are covered by the FLSA, the EO and Final Rule apply only to contracts that exceed the micro-purchase threshold as defined in 41 U.S.C. 1902(a), unless expressly made subject to this order pursuant to DOL regulations.

Highlights of the final rule requirements include:

  • Accrued sick leave must be carried over from year to year;
  • Contractors must reinstate accrued sick leave for employees rehired by a covered contractor within 12 months after job separation;
  • Contractors are not required to pay a separating employee for unused sick leave upon separation;
  • Contractors must inform an employee, in writing, of the amount of paid sick leave accrued but not used no less than once each pay period or each month, whichever is shorter;
  • Contractors cannot require the employee to find a replacement worker as a condition for using the paid sick leave;
  • Contractors covered by the SCA or DBA will not receive credit toward their prevailing wage or fringe benefit obligations under these acts by providing the paid sick leave required by the EO;
  • A contractor's existing paid sick leave policy provided in addition to the fulfillment of the SCA or DBA requirements, which is made available to all employees, fulfills the requirements of the EO and Final Rule if it permits employees to take at least the same amount of leave as provided by the EO for the same reasons;
  • Employees must provide written or verbal notice of the need for leave at least seven days in advance if the leave is foreseeable and as soon as practicable when the need for the leave is not foreseeable;
  • A contractor may only require certification of the need for the leave for absences of three or more consecutive days, but only if the employee received notice of the requirement to provide certification or documentation before returning to work;
  • A contractor’s existing PTO policy can fulfill the paid sick leave requirements of the EO as long as it provides employees with at least the same rights and benefits that the Final Rule requires if the employee chooses to use that PTO for the purposes covered by the EO;
  • Contractors may not interfere with or retaliate against employees taking or attempting to take leave or otherwise asserting rights under the EO;
  • Contractors must still comply with federal, state or local laws or collective bargaining agreement provisions that require greater paid sick leave than required by the EO.

SCA health and welfare benefit rate to be adjusted: The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) will be announcing an SCA health and welfare benefit rate specifically for federal contractors whose employees receive paid leave pursuant to the EO and Final Rule. This rate is expected to be lower than it would be without consideration of the provision of this paid sick leave.

Recordkeeping requirements: Contractors will be required to make and maintain records for purposes of the EO and Final Rule, including:

  • Copies of notifications to employees of the amount of paid sick leave accrued;
  • Denials of employees’ requests to use paid sick leave;
  • Dates and amounts of paid sick leave employees use; and
  • Other records showing the tracking of employees’ accrual and use of paid sick leave.

As with other leave laws, federal contractors must also keep employees’ medical records, as well as records relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, separate from other records and confidential.

Employers’ bottom line

Federal contractors who anticipate entering into contracts that will be subject to Executive Order 13706 should do the following: First, review any current PTO/sick leave policy to determine if any revisions may be needed to bring it into compliance with the EO and Final Rule. Second, review the current payroll system to ensure that it has the capabilities to track the amount of paid time off accrued and taken, and timely advise employees. And finally, become familiar with the specific and detailed requirements contained in the Final Rule to ensure compliance upon entry into the first covered contract.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Mehrman, L. (2016 October 6). Executive order forces DOL to enact final rule on paid sick leave. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/executive-order-forces-dol-to-enact-final-rule-on-paid-sick-leave


Current Form I-9 Valid Until Jan. 21, 2017

Original Article From SHRM.org

By: Roy Maurer

The newest version of the Form I-9 will be made available by Nov. 22, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced.

Employers may continue using the current version of Form I-9 with a revision date of 03/08/2013 until Jan. 21, 2017. After Jan. 21, all previous versions of the Form I-9 will be invalid.

The White House Office of Management and Budget approved the latest revisions to the Form I-9 on Aug. 25, 2016, clearing the way for the form to be released.

"Ever since the current version of the I-9 expired on March 31, 2016, employers have been anxiously awaiting the release of the new form, which will now include some 'smart' error-checking features," said John Fay, vice president and general counsel at LawLogix, a Phoenix-based software company specializing in cloud-based immigration and compliance services. "The newly revised I-9 also features several new structural changes and instructions which will be important for all employers to know and learn."

The new Form I-9 will have an expiration date of Aug. 31, 2019.

Fay said that the Jan. 21 extension to transfer to the new form is "great news for employers, many of whom struggle to stay up-to-date with the latest I-9 changes and requirements."

In 2013, USCIS provided employers with only two months to start using the current version of the form, "hardly enough time for HR to update all of the policy documents, training materials, and procedures which go along with the I-9," Fay said.

Changes to the Form I-9

The new form is designed to address "frequent points of confusion that arise for both employees and employers," Fay said. The proposed changes specifically aim to help employers reduce technical errors for which they may be fined, and include:

  • Validations on certain fields to ensure information is entered correctly. The form will validate the correct number of digits for a Social Security number or an expiration date on an identity document, for example.
  • Drop-down lists and calendars.
  • Embedded instructions for completing each field.
  • Buttons that will allow users to access the instructions electronically, print the form and clear the form to start over.
  • Additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators. If the employee does not use a preparer or translator to assist in completing section 1, he or she must indicate so on a new check box labeled, "I did not use a preparer or translator."
  • The requirement that workers provide only other last names used in Section 1, rather than all other names used. This is to avoid possible discrimination issues and to protect the privacy of transgender and other individuals who have changed their first names, Fay said.
  • The removal of the requirement that immigrants authorized to work provide both their Form I-94 number and foreign passport information in Section 1.
  • A new "Citizenship/Immigration Status" field at the top of section 2.
  • A dedicated area to enter additional information that employers are currently required to notate in the margins of the form, such as Temporary Protected Status and Optional Practical Training extensions.
  • A quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, that generates once the form is printed that can be used to streamline enforcement audits.
  • Separate instructions from the form. Employers are still required to present the instructions to the employee completing the form, however.

"It's important to remember that this new smart I-9 form is not an electronic I-9 as defined in the regulations," Fay said. "Employers filling out the new form I-9 using Adobe Reader will still need to print the form, obtain handwritten signatures, store in a safe place, monitor reverifications and updates with a calendaring system, and retype information into E-Verify as required."

See the original article here.


3 things NAHU told the IRS about ACA premium tax credits

The National Association of Health Underwriters has tried to show Affordable Care Act program managers that it can take a practical, apolitical approach to thinking about ACA issues.

Some of the Washington-based agent group's members strongly supported passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and its sister, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Many loathe the ACA package.

But NAHU itself has tried to focus mainly on efforts to improve how the ACA, ACA regulations and ACA programs work for consumers, employer plan sponsors and agents. In Washington, for example, NAHU has helped the District of Columbia reach out to local agents. NAHU also offers an exchange agent certification course for HealthCare.gov agents.

Now NAHU is investing some of the credit it has earned for ACA fairness in an effort to shape draft eligibility screening regulations proposed this summer by the Internal Revenue Service, an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Janet Stokes Trautwein, NAHU's executive vice president and chief executive officer, says she and colleagues at NAHU talked to many agents and brokers about the draft regulations.

For a look at just a little of what she wrote in her comment letter, read on:

 

1. Exchanges have to communicate better

The IRS included many ideas in the draft regulations about ways to keep consumers honest when they apply for Affordable Care Act exchange premium tax credit subsidies.

ACA drafters wanted people to be able to use the subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket coverage costs as the year went on, to reduce those costs to about what the employee's share of the payments for solid group health coverage might be.

To do that, the drafters and implementers at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS came up with a system that requires consumers to predict in advance what their incoming will be in the coming year.

Consumers who predict their income will be too low and get too much tax credit money are supposed to true up with the IRS when the file their taxes the following spring. The IRS has an easy time getting the money when consumers are supposed to get refunds. It can then deduct the payments from the refunds. When consumers are not getting refunds, or simply fail to file tax returns, the IRS has no easy way to get the cash back.

The exchanges and the IRS also face the problem that some people earn too little to qualify for tax credits but too much to qualify for Medicaid. Those people have an incentive to lie and say their income will be higher than it is likely to be.

Trautwein writes in her letter that the ACA exchange system could help by doing more to educate consumers when the consumers are applying for exchange coverage.

"The health insurance exchange marketplaces [should] be required to clearly notify consumers of the consequences of potential income-based eligibility fraud at the time of application, in order to help discourage it from ever happening," Trautwein writes.

 

2. Federal health and tax systems have to work smoothly together

Trautwein notes in her letter that the ACA exchange system has an exchange eligibility determination process, and that the IRS has another set of standards for determining, based on a consumer's access, or lack of access, to employer-sponsored health coverage, who is eligible for premium tax credit subsidies.

NAHU is worried about the possibility that a lack of coordination between the IRS and the HHS could lead to incorrect decisions about whether exchange applicants have access to the kind of affordable employer-sponsored coverage with a minimum value required by the ACA laws and regulations, Trautwein writes.

"We believe that it is fairly easy for consumers to mistakenly apply for and then receive advanced payments of a premium tax credit for which they are not eligible" based on wrong ideas about affordability, she says.

Consumers could easily end up owing thousands of dollars in credit repayments because of those kinds of errors, she says.

In the long run, employers should be reporting on the coverage they expect to offer in the coming year, rather than trying to figure out what kind of coverage they offered in the past year, Trautwein says.

In the meantime, the IRS and HHS have to work together to improve the employer verification process, she says.

 

3. Employees do not and cannot speak ACA

Trautwein says NAHU members also worry about exchange efforts to depend on information from workers to verify what kind of coverage the workers had.

"Based on our membership's extensive work with employee participants in employer-sponsored group benefit plans, we can say with confidence that the vast majority of employees do not readily understand the various ACA-related labeling nuances of their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage offerings," she says.

"Terms that are now commonplace to health policy professionals, like minimum essential coverage and excepted benefits, are meaningless to mainstream consumers," she says.

NAHU does not see how an exchange will know what kind of coverage a worker really had access to until after employer reporting is reconciled with information from the exchanges and from individual tax returns, which might not happen until more than a year after the consumer received the tax credit subsidies, Trautwein says.

"This weakness on the part of the exchanges could leave consumers potentially liable for thousands of dollars of tax credit repayments, all because of confusing terms and requirements and inadequate eligibility verification mechanisms," she says.

See the Original Article Here.

Source:

Bell, A. (2016, September 30). 3 things NAHA told the IRS about ACA premium tax credits [Web log post]. Retreived from http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2016/09/30/3-things-nahu-told-the-irs-about-aca-premium-tax-c?page_all=1


5 Steps that can bring you closer to ACA compliance

Vic Saliterman shares 5 steps to help advisers and organizations focus on ACA compliance efforts as the heathcare market system continues to morph.

Original Article Posted on EmployeBenefitAdviser.com

Posted: September 27, 2016

 

1) Validate the ACA status of employees every month. Identifying who is eligible to be offered coverage under ACA rules is a core ingredient of attaining compliance and can be challenging and complex. In the 2016 plan year, the number of full-time employees who must be offered healthcare coverage increased to 95% from 70% in 2015 — a much higher threshold. Validating each month is far easier and far less stressful than doing so all at once at the end of the year.

a. Categorizing your employees incorrectly can lead to negative consequences such as unanticipated penalties. Keep in mind that any Employer Shared Responsibility assessments are determined independently for each month, even though reporting and IRS notices will be annual. So you should assess monthly to make sure you’re hitting the 95% mark. It also pays to know the difference between “HR full-time” and “ACA full-time” definitions.

2) Gather the correct data now — especially benefits data. According to an ADP study, many organizations have said that it was extremely challenging to gather benefits and payroll data for the annual reporting task of completing Forms 1094-C/1095-C for 2015. HR and finance leaders underestimated the time and effort needed to obtain the correct data from the necessary systems, such as benefits, payroll, time and labor management, and HR. In addition, source data may have resided in non-integrated systems or was inconsistent with ACA definitions, resulting in a time-consuming task of analyzing and adjusting it manually. Employers anticipate that the accuracy of forms, annual reporting, and affordability measures will be their top ACA challenges in 2016. So, begin to gather the correct employee data now.

3) Address Marketplace Notices sooner rather than later. Receiving a Marketplace Notice is like an early warning system. It can alert you that there may be a problem before a fine occurs. Understanding the implications of receiving a notice can help you prepare to manage the situation in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Acting now may save your business the expense of penalties later.

a. A Marketplace Notice is generated by an individual state’s Marketplace or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services whenever an employee receives a premium tax credit to help them pay for healthcare coverage from state or federal marketplaces. The notice gives the employer a chance to appeal the premium tax credit eligibility if they did offer the employee affordable healthcare coverage.

b. An ADP study found that among large employers, those with 1,000 or more employees, 23% said that “responding to Exchange Notices” is their top ACA compliance concern for 2016. For large employers handling compliance on their own, the percentage rose to 27%. One thing to keep in mind is that the notice will be sent to the address provided by the employee, which means it may not go where you expect. So, it may be important to educate and alert local work locations that may receive these notices.

c. In fact, receiving a Marketplace Notice for an employee is an opportunity to look at the coverage offered and verify that your business complies. If appropriate coverage is not being offered, the notice gives you time to make an offer and potentially limit any penalty that may be assessed by the IRS.

4) Pay attention to the “little” things. Did you know that there were nearly 170 IRS error codes for 2015 that could have applied to Form 1094-C/1095-C transmissions? Some errors were technical in nature (format, schema, etc.) whereas others were based on data provided. The point is simple mistakes can lead to rejected IRS forms or accuracy penalties.

a. Many of these errors were the result of inaccurate Social Security numbers, Tax Identification Numbers (TINs), Federal Employer Identification Numbers (FEINs) and, believe it or not, incorrectly listing a company’s legal name. It may help to become familiar with the TIN solicitation rules. In 2015 reporting, the IRS said it will not impose penalties on a filer for reporting incorrect or incomplete information if the filer can show that he or she made a good-faith effort to comply with the information reporting requirements for 2015. But that won’t be the case moving forward.

b. And there are other potential penalties. At some point — likely December 2016 or early 2017 for 2015 filings — you may receive an Employer Shared Responsibility assessment notice from the IRS. The only way you can avoid paying those penalty assessments is by showing the IRS that you, in fact, complied. You’ll need to be able to show who was a full-time employee for each month, who was offered coverage, and whether that coverage met affordability standards. Make sure that several years of employee data is available because you may need that employee history to respond to an IRS inquiry.

5) Look ahead. ACA compliance will continue to be an evolving activity as laws and requirements change. For instance, annual reporting and Form 1095-C will have some new codes, such as “plan start month” (optional for 2015 and 2016) and two new Line 14 codes to identify conditional offers to spouses. Most 2015 transition relief codes will remain for any 2015 plan-year months in 2016. And that’s not all. The IRS also has issued a proposed rule on expatriates and expatriate plans. Begin to familiarize yourself with these planned and proposed changes today, so your overall compliance process becomes more routine.

Managing the requirements of the ACA as a part of day-to-day HR and finance activities doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but you do need to get started.

By engaging a knowledgeable, trusted partner and applying a little diligence and forethought, adhering to ACA rules can begin to integrate into your ongoing operating model.

See the Original Article Here.

Source:

Saliterman, V. (2016, September 27). 5 steps that can bring you closer to ACA compliance [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/5-steps-that-can-bring-you-closer-to-aca-compliance


Congress moves to push back effective date of new OT rules

Interesting article from HRMorning.com, by Tim Gould. It states that the effective date for new overtime rules could be pushed back from December 2017 to June 2017. This is significant for employers and employees alike, as they might be able to wait essentially another year for the law to pass. It will be beneficial for employers for the law to go into effect in June rather than December.

The efforts to push back the deadline for the new OT rules gained some more momentum this week, as Congress moved to enact a new law to extend the effective date to early next summer.  

The House of Representatives passed the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools and Nonprofits Act (H.R. 6094) on Sept. 27. The law would move the effective date of the new OT rules from Dec. 1 to June 1, 2017.

A similar measure was introduced in the Senate by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).

Lankford and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), lead sponsor of the House bill, are hoping the legislation will encourage the administration to delay the rule on its own, according to TheHill.com.

The legislative moves come on the heels of two lawsuits filed earlier in the week.

Twenty-one states joined in a federal lawsuit that charges the Obama administration with overstepping its authority in rewriting the rules, which raise the overtime salary threshold from $23, 600 to $47,500 per year. The suit claims the change will place an undue burden on state budgets.

Just hours after the states’ suit was filed, a similar suit was filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups. Both lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

There’s no telling what might happen in the two Texas cases, but it’s highly unlikely the Congressional proposal will pass. President Obama has promised to veto the legislation.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Gould, T. (2016 September 30) Congress moves to push back effective date of new OT rules. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/congress-moves-to-push-back-effective-date-of-new-ot-rules/


HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Audit Program

Phase 1 of the HIPPA audits are complete and Phase 2 will begin shortly. The U.S. Departmetn of Helath & Human Services gives some background on Phase 1:

Background on the OCR Pilot Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Audit Program

Phase1: The use of health information technology continues to expand in health care. Although these new technologies provide many opportunities and benefits for consumers, they also pose new risks to consumer privacy. Because of these increased risks, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) include national standards for the privacy of protected health information, the security of electronic protected health information, and breach notification to consumers. HITECH also requires HHS to perform periodic audits of covered entity and business associate compliance with the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces these rules, and in 2011, OCR established a pilot audit program to assess the controls and processes covered entities have implemented to comply with them. Through this program, OCR developed a protocol, or set of instructions, it then used to measure the efforts of 115 covered entities. As part of OCR’s continued commitment to protect health information, the office instituted a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of the pilot audit program.

Learn more about the Pilot Audit Program.

Learn more about the Audit Evaluation Program.

Learn more about the Audit Program Protocol.

See the Original Article from the U.S. Departmetn of Health and Human Services Here.