Amy Gordon and Susan Nash were recognized as top authors by JD Supra’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards for their thought leadership pieces in the Defense & Space Industry and Affordable Care Act (ACA) categories. In addition, Amy’s article, along with Sarah Raaii and Jamie Weyeneth, “Recent Government-Issued FAQs Clarify ACA Employer Mandate, Market Reforms” was in the Top 5 Read Articles in 2016 in the ACA category.

JD Supra’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards recognizes firms and authors who achieved top visibility and engagement in the JD Supra platform over the past year. Spanning 25 industries and topics, one firm and 10 authors were recognized in each category for their consistently high readership and engagement for all of 2016.

Read the full list.

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 insurance agreements?

Read the full article.

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 and closely held for-profit employers with religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage.

This new executive order is aimed at organizations like universities and charities, including entities such as the plaintiffs in Zubik v. Burwell. Last year, in Zubik, the US Supreme Court failed to decide whether the contraceptive-coverage mandate requirements (Contraception Mandate) and its accommodation violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) by forcing religious non-profits to act in violation of their religious beliefs. Although the ACA regulations included an exemption from contraceptive coverage for the group health plans of religious employers, the exemption did not provide that such services would not be covered. The services are just not covered through a cost-sharing mechanism born by the religious employers. The Contraception Mandate requires these organizations to “facilitate” the provision of insurance coverage for contraceptive services that they oppose on religious grounds.  Many religious organizations were opposed to the requirement to facilitate, since they felt the requirement made them complicit in making contraception available, which violates their RFRA rights.

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 9 | Silicon Valley, California

May 11 | Los Angeles, California

May 22 | Chicago, Illinois

May 24 | New York, New York

The topics for our roundtable series sessions will include:

  • The Future of Employee Benefits Under the Trump Administration
  • Should Your Plan Cover All Drugs? (FDA-Approved/Unapproved, Off-Label, Marijuana, etc.)
  • ERISA Retirement Plan Fee Litigation – Learning From Recent Class Actions
  • Paying Off Student Loans as an Employee Benefit
  • Equal Privacy and Cybersecurity – Now Part of Your Plan’s Independent Audit
  • Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Equality Index – Opposite-Sex Domestic Partner Benefit

 

For more information about how to register for one of our roundtables, please contact Erin Nelson.

Based on a recent audit conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the IRS’ processes and procedures to ensure compliance with the employer information reporting requirements mandated by the employer shared responsibility provision (the play or pay rules) of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), have fallen short of their intended goals. (see Audit Report No. 2017-43-027). According to TIGTA, due to faulty processes, the IRS did not have “accurate and complete data for use in its compliance strategy to identify noncompliant employers potentially subject to the employer shared responsibility payment.” System errors also resulted in the agency being unable to process paper information returns “timely and accurately,” TIGTA noted. Approximately 16,000 paper Forms 1094-C and 1.4 million paper Forms 1095-C had not been processed as of five months after May 31 (the deadline). The TIGTA offered several recommendations to the IRS to improve management practices. The IRS agreed with all but one of these recommendations and is developing a more accurate system for identifying employers that are not complying with the employer shared responsibility requirements.

On Monday March 6, 2017, the House Republican leadership in the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees unveiled their signature bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The “American Health Care Act” (AHCA) is an effort to make good on President Trump’s promise to dismantle the ACA. Democrats are united in their opposition to the AHCA and other stakeholders have also come out against the bill – while the proposed legislation is subject to modification as it is marked up in committee and debated in Congress, certain provisions of the AHCA, if enacted, will be of particular importance to employers and provide the framework for a strategic road map as employers plan and design future health care benefits for their employees.

Read the full article.

In the presentation “ACA Repeal/Replace Under the Trump Administration,” Susan Nash discusses the implications of President Trump and the GOP’s immediate vow to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was enacted in 2010 by the Obama Administration to reform the health care system in the US. A complete repeal is unlikely since many ACA changes will require a filibuster proof majority vote in the Senate. However, some changes can be made unilaterally through Executive action by Republicans through Budget Reconciliation, a special legislative process created by Congress to allow for expedited voting on bills that directly impact reviews and expenditures.

The presentation also highlights several proposals that the GOP has been working on to replace ACA, the non-enforcement of market reform requirements, the possible outcomes for the Trump Executive Order and the immediate ramifications for the insurance markets and millions of Americans.

View the presentation slides here.

On December 31, 2016, the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued an opinion and order in Franciscan Alliance, Inc. et al v. Burwell, which preliminarily enjoins the US Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing, on a nationwide basis, certain portions of the regulations under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and termination of pregnancy. Two similar cases are pending in the US District Court for the District of North Dakota.

Read the full article here.