Senate issues revised version of ACA repeal-and-replace bill

July 13, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On July 13, the Senate released a revised version of its proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal-and-replace bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. The Senate has yet to vote on the original version.

The revised version of the bill includes a “consumer freedom” amendment to the ACA that would allow consumers to purchase lower-premium catastrophic plans with stripped-down coverage. The current law requires all plans to provide certain minimum essential health benefits. Detractors of the ACA believe the requirements drive up the cost of health care and force healthy people to enroll in plans that provide more coverage than they want.

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Texas Supreme Court balks at extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples

by Jacob Monty
Monty & Ramirez, LLP

The Texas Supreme Court ruled this week that the City of Houston’s extension of its employee benefits to married same-sex couples goes further than is required by the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared same-sex marriage equal in all 50 states. The plaintiffs in Friday’s decision argued that Obergefell didn’t impose on taxpayers the obligation to “subsidize” same-sex marriage. The city argued that the Supreme Court ruling requires it to treat employees in same-sex marriage equally.

In what same-sex marriage opponents are calling a victory, the Texas Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for arguments to be made in light of Obergefell, which was announced only after the parties had briefed the case in the lower court. The court stated: read more…

DOL drops defense of overtime rules

June 30, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

by Susan Prince, JD, MSL

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), headed by new Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, has decided not to defend the overtime rules finalized under the Obama administration. Instead, the DOL will seek to begin a new rulemaking process, likely with a lower salary threshold for overtime exemptions.

Background

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Emanuel nomination called chance to ‘rein in’ Obama-era NLRB

June 29, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump’s latest pick for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is another signal that a “reining in” of the panel is on the way, according to attorneys who keep a close watch on the Board.NLRB logo

On June 27, the White House announced that William J. Emanuel, an attorney with the large management-side law firm Littler Mendelson, will be nominated for the remainder of a term expiring on August 27, 2021.

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CBO: Senate GOP health bill cuts deficit, adds to uninsured

June 27, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

The CBO and the JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit by $321 billion from 2017 to 2026. That amount is $202 billion more than the estimated net savings from the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was passed by the House in May. The additional savings largely come from steeper reductions to Medicaid than those proposed by the House bill as well as changes to the current subsidies for nongroup health insurance provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Supreme Court ruling allows ‘travel ban’ Executive Order to take limited effect

June 26, 2017 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

On June 26, the last day of the current term, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to determine whether the “travel ban” Executive Order’s (EO) focus on primarily Muslim countries violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and whether the EO exceeds President Donald Trump’s authority granted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Court will hear the case in its next term, which begins in October. Because of two lower courts’ findings, the EO has been enjoined from taking effect since May.

Meanwhile, the Court also addressed and limited the existing injunctions on the EO. In particular, the EO’s provisions barring entry of people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen may take effect, but only for people “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

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Senate releases highly anticipated healthcare bill

June 22, 2017 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

Update: On June 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that a vote on the Senate bill will be delayed until after the July 4th recess.

Following the May passage in the House of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Senate has now released the text of its own draft ACA reform bill.

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DOL rescinds joint-employment, independent contractor guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has withdrawn two major Obama-era guidance documents, one addressing joint employment and one dealing with independent contractors.

The move, while not a surprise, is good news for employers, according to H. Juanita Beecher, an attorney with Fortney & Scott and editor of Federal Employment Law Insider. The Obama administration tried to find a way to deal with shifting employer-employee relationships, she said. The effort included a focus on outsourcing and the use of staffing companies as well as a big push to examine whether independent contractors were actually employees. By rescinding the guidance documents, the DOL is backing off its “aggressive” initiative, Beecher said.

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Signaling end of overtime rule, DOL will seek public input on new regs

On June 7, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said he will soon formally request the public’s input on new overtime regulations. The announcement signals that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) likely will drop its defense of former President Barack Obama’s overtime rule, according to one expert.

A request for information (RFI) likely will be filed with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the next two to three weeks, Acosta told lawmakers during a budget hearing of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations.

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CBO says revised AHCA not much of an improvement over prior version

May 25, 2017 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The saga of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican plan to repeal and replace key portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has been a long and winding one so far.

To recap: The original version of the AHCA was introduced in early March. After receiving lukewarm support and a discouraging report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which concluded that it would leave an additional 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026 as compared with the current ACA, it was pulled from the House floor shortly before a scheduled vote on March 24.

Republican lawmakers regrouped, and on May 4, a modified version of the AHCA squeaked through the House by the slimmest of margins. The vote took place before the CBO had a chance to review the new version of the bill.

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