New COBRA model notices available

May 12, 2014 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

by Jessica Webb-Ayer

The Obama administration recently announced that new COBRA model notices are available. The notices alert employees about their ability to continue their healthcare coverage through COBRA following certain events that otherwise would result in termination of coverage.

The administration updated the notices to make it clear that if employees are eligible for COBRA continuation coverage when they leave a job, they may choose to purchase coverage through the health insurance marketplace (aka the health insurance exchange). According to the administration, the updated notices provide information “on more affordable options available through the marketplace, where workers and families may be eligible for financial assistance that would not otherwise be available for COBRA continuation coverage.”

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Treasury Department finalizes rule on hiring women, minorities

by Judith E. Kramer

The U.S. Treasury Department has issued a final rule requiring that any entity that enters into a contract with the department make good-faith efforts to include minorities and women in its workforce.

The new rule goes into effect April 21. The requirement grows out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which states that covered agencies will require contractors to provide a written statement that the “contractor shall ensure, to the maximum extent possible, the fair inclusion of women and minorities in the workforce of the contractor, and as applicable, subcontractors.”

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New regulations delay ACA’s ‘play or pay’ provision for some employers

February 11, 2014 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 1 COMMENTS

In yet another unexpected turn in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Obama administration announced Monday that it is delaying the application of the law’s employer responsibility provision (also commonly referred to as the “play or pay” provision) for some small employers until 2016. The administration let the public know about the delay when the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS released final regulations addressing the much-publicized provision.

Under the play-or-pay provision, employers with 50 or more employees face penalties if they don’t offer health insurance coverage or if the coverage they offer is insufficient. The provision was originally supposed to take effect on January 1, 2014, but last summer the administration delayed implementation until 2015.

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Obama administration issues long-awaited mental health parity regulations

November 08, 2013 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Today the Obama administration released final regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). The MHPAEA is designed to make sure mental health and substance use disorder benefits offered by health plans are in parity with the medical and surgical benefits the plans offer.

The new regulations have been highly anticipated since Congress passed the MHPAEA in October 2008. The law amended and expanded a variety of previously enacted parity provisions in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), and the Internal Revenue Code. In February 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly issued interim final regulations to aid employers and group health insurers in implementing the MHPAEA’s requirements.

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Obama administration delays another ACA provision

August 13, 2013 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

The Obama administration has delayed another Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision. The administration has postponed a consumer protection provision that limits out-of-pocket costs until 2015. Under the provision, the limit on out-of-pocket costs was not to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.

According to the New York Times, the one-year grace period was announced in February on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) website in guidance titled “FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation Part XII.” However, the language outlining the grace period largely flew under the radar until DOL officials recently confirmed what the language means.

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Departments Issue Final Summary of Benefits and Coverage Regulations

February 20, 2012 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

Employers have a new health care reform deadline to add to their calendars. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of the Treasury issued final regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are intended to help:

  • individuals easily understand their health coverage and be able to pick their best coverage options; and
  • employers determine what the best coverage option is for their businesses and their employees.

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Supreme Court: Medical Residents Must Pay Social Security Taxes

January 12, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Yesterday, in one of its first rulings of 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that medical residents are considered employees when it comes to social security taxes. In Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research v. United States, Mayo challenged regulations issued by the Treasury Department that clarify what types of students are not exempt from paying social security taxes.

Under the regulations, medical residents (and other students) who work 40 hours or more per week were considered full-time employees instead of students. Mayo asserted that the Treasury Department should have to look at each employee’s situation on a case-by-case basis to determine what the employee does and why. The Court determined, however, that the Treasury Department’s “full-time employee rule” is reasonable because the regulations distinguished between workers who study and students who work and that focusing on the hours spent working versus the hours spent studying is a sensible way to make such a distinction.

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