Archives: Employee Benefits

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Digital Health Governance: Management and Strategy for the 21st Century Digital Economy

Jennifer Geetter and Dale Van Demark wrote this bylined article on how companies must manage and govern their use of digital healthcare information assets. “Organizations will need to design and implement digital governance structures that … include additional components and organizational stakeholders, in order to meet the business and strategic demands of the digital health … Continue Reading

As Federal Progress Stalls, State, Local and Private Initiatives March Towards Pay Equity

Pay equity, the concept that gender differences should not affect compensation, is a concept easy to support, yet has been stubbornly hard to achieve. Federal law has become calcified in addressing the stubborn pay gap between men and women. State and local initiatives, along with private actors, have increasingly taken steps in the past year … Continue Reading

The Basics of Health Savings Accounts and Health Flexible Spending Accounts

In a recent webinar, Jake Mattinson and Sarah Raaii discussed the basics of health savings accounts (HSAs) and health flexible spending accounts. They provided an overview of the various regulations surrounding HSA, such as eligibility requirements, high deductible health plans, and contributions and distributions, and cafeteria plans. Additionally, they analyzed the differences between HSAs and … Continue Reading

Round Two: Significant Telehealth Expansion Re-Proposed in Bipartisan Senate Bill

On May 3, 2017, the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health Act of 2017 (S. 2016) (CONNECT Act of 2017) was reintroduced by the same six senators who had initially introduced the legislation in early 2016 and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. As we previously reported on February … Continue Reading

Adding Value to Your Organization: Benefits Best Practices to Avoid Common Mistakes

In a recent webinar, Jake Mattinson and Sarah Raaii discussed the practices that benefits professionals can adopt to add value to their organizations and avoid common mistakes.  Jake and Sarah discussed recommended practices for ERISA benefit claims and inquiries, how to review plan compensation definitions and payroll codes, best practices for corrections using the Voluntary … Continue Reading

M&A Webinar Series Part II: The Due Diligence Process

There are many different types of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions, making it very important to understand the overall deal structure and process. Andrew C. Liazos presented “Mergers and Acquisitions Webinar Series Part 2: The Due Diligence Process” for the CLE Program as part of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits and the American … Continue Reading

Last but Not Least, Texas Takes the Final Steps to Embrace Telemedicine

As one of the last states to retain highly restrictive (and arguably anti-competitive) telemedicine practice standards, health care providers, regulatory boards, technology companies, payors and other stakeholders have been actively monitoring Texas’ approach to telemedicine regulation and the related Teladoc case. Senate Bill 1107, a bill that significantly eases the delivery of care via telemedicine … Continue Reading

ESOPs and Artisan Distilling

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are becoming a popular—and tax effective—way for companies to manage succession planning. When structured properly an ESOP can provide huge financial benefits to companies and their employees alike. There have been several craft brewers who have taken advantage of the ESOP structure in the past year, and we expect this … Continue Reading

PCORI Fee Due by July 31, 2017

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee was established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to advance comparative clinical effectiveness research. The PCORI fee is assessed on issuers of health insurance policies and sponsors of self-insured health plans. The fees are calculated using the average number of lives covered under the policy or plan, and … Continue Reading

Senate Republicans Unveil ACA Repeal Bill

Last week, Senate Republicans unveiled draft legislation to move toward repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The draft health care bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, was hatched behind closed doors without public committee hearings or debate, in response to concerns raised by the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), which … Continue Reading

Proposed Changes to § 409a Regulations: Greater Clarity and Better Planning Alternatives

Andrew Liazos and Allison Wilkerson wrote this bylined article on Tax Code Section 409A’s deferral and payment requirements for nonqualified deferred com­pensation plans. Recent IRS Section 409A guidance makes “several helpful changes that employers will want to consider and take advantage of,” the authors wrote, and they warned employers that they ignore final IRS “at … Continue Reading

The Quandary of Publicly-Traded Employer Stock in a 401(k) Plan

Offering employer stock in a 401(k) plan investment lineup can seem like a win-win situation. It can enable employees to become company owners—real, skin-in-the-game, participants in their employer’s economic future—through a simple deferral election. The U.S. Supreme Court has even recognized the value of employer stock funds, confirming that Congress sought to encourage their creation … Continue Reading

District Court Dismisses Shareholder Claim that Equity Award Share Withholding Triggers Section 16(b) Liability

A US District Court recently dismissed a claim that an insider’s election to satisfy an income tax obligation by having shares withheld from the delivery of an award constituted a non-exempt sale of shares back to the issuer for purposes of Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act, unless the share withholding was required, rather than … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Church-Affiliated Hospitals in Church Plan Litigation

In a major victory for church-affiliated hospitals, the US Supreme Court overturned three appellate court rulings and decided unanimously that church-affiliated hospitals can maintain their pension plans as “church plans” exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA), regardless of whether a church actually established the plan. Impacted health systems, … Continue Reading

Proposed 457(f) Regulations: Opportunities and Challenges

The 2016 proposed regulations significantly expanded 457(f) plan sponsors’ ability to permit elective deferrals, use noncompetition agreements and make larger severance payments than otherwise permitted under 409A without immediate taxation to participants. In a recent presentation, Ruth Wimer, Mary Samsa and Joseph Urwitz discuss the surprising opportunities with respect to tax-exempt and governmental entities’ “ineligible … Continue Reading

Partial Victories to Two Universities in Their Motions to Dismiss Code Section 403(b) Fee Litigation

Multiple large, class action lawsuits have been filed against prominent higher education institutions claiming fiduciary breaches under their Code Section 403(b) plans as a result of insufficient oversight of plan investments, which allegedly caused excessive fees to be paid by participants. Last week, district courts in Georgia and North Carolina, respectively, ruled on defendants’ motions … Continue Reading

The Future of Discretionary Clauses in California Life and Disability Insurance Agreements

On May 11, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court ruling, and upheld a California law that invalidates a plan provision that assigns the final determination on benefit payout determinations to an insurer. How will this impact the future of discretionary clauses in California life and disability … Continue Reading

Executive Order Regarding Contraceptive Mandate Directed toward Religious Employers

Late last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to look into exempting religious employers from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive mandate. Qualifying religious employers (e.g. houses of worship) are already exempt from providing contraceptive coverage under their benefit plans, and an accommodation process is provided for certain non-profit employers … Continue Reading

Upcoming Employee Benefits Innovators Roundtable Series!

McDermott will be holding its annual Employee Benefits Innovators Roundtable Series this month. The roundtables offer experienced benefits professionals an opportunity to discuss cutting-edge, topical employer-driven benefit programs with their peers and members of McDermott’s employee benefits team. We are meeting in four locations this year. Join us in one of the following cities: May … Continue Reading
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