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No Surprises Act and Three Takeaways on Surprise Billing

The No Surprises Act (NSA) provides federal protections against surprise billing with respect to emergency services, non-emergency items or services furnished by out-of-network providers at certain in-network healthcare facilities, and air ambulance services furnished by out-of-network providers of air ambulance services. The NSA also establishes that certain federal agencies publish information quarterly about the Federal IDR process. The first such report, Initial Report on the Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) Process April 15 – September 30, 2022, offers insight into dispute volume, interaction of the Federal IDR process with the claims procedure rules and problems with botched claims.

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ERISA 401(k) Fee Case Victory for Schneider

A Massachusetts federal judge recently gave a major win to Schneider Electric in an employee benefits lawsuit brought by former workers. According to this Law360 article, seven former Schneider Electric employees accused the company and its investment manager of running afoul of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 when they replaced well-performing funds with those of the investment manager. McDermott Partners Sarah E. Walters, Jennifer B. Routh and Margaret H. Warner represented Schneider Electric.

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Webinar Replay: What to Know About SECURE 2.0

What do retirement plan professionals and participants need to know about the recently passed SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022? In this webinar replay, McDermott’s Employee Benefits team discusses the many changes to retirement plans and individual retirement accounts, including the key changes for 401(k), 403(b) and defined benefit plans as well as other changes impacting health and welfare plans. Discussion topics include the following:

  1. Automatic plan enrollment and escalation
  2. Allowance of matching contributions for elective deferred student loan repayments
  3. Emergency savings option
  4. Expansion of Roth account contributions
  5. Automatic cashout, hardship and disaster changes
  6. Penalty-free distributions
  7. Changes to required minimum distributions

Access the webinar.

Access the webinar’s slides.

Read the On the Subject about SECURE 2.0 here.

Healthcare Predictions for 2023: Hard Choices and Working Smarter

What is the primary force that will act on healthcare in 2023? What topics, trends and opportunities are hot this year? And how does the public feel about healthcare provider organizations today?

In this special report produced by Jarrad Inc.McDermott Partner Kerrin B. Slattery and other industry professionals provide insight into the themes that will shape the healthcare industry this year.

Read more here.

JOIN US: SECURE 2.0 Takes Second Bite at Retirement Security

Join partners from McDermott’s Employee Benefits team on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, as they discuss the impact of the recently passed SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022. With over 90 changes to retirement plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs), this webinar will highlight the key changes for 401(k) and 403(b) plans and defined benefit plans, as well as changes in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 impacting health and welfare plans.

Topics Include:

  1. Automatic Plan Enrollment and Escalation
  2. Allowance of Matching Contribution for Elective Deferred Student Loan Repayments
  3. Emergency Savings Option
  4. Expansion of Roth Account Contributions
  5. Automatic Cashout, Hardship and Disaster Changes
  6. Penalty-Free Distributions
  7. Changes to Required Minimum Distributions

To learn more, read the full On the Subject here.


Major Changes Proposed to Substance Use Disorder Confidentiality Law

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published December 2, 2022 (the Proposed Rule), the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed long-awaited changes to the regulations protecting the confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records under Part 2 of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations (42 CFR Part 2, or Part 2). Specifically, the Proposed Rule would implement provisions of Section 3221 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which required HHS to align Part 2 with certain provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and to make certain changes to the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices, the form given to patients and plan members that describes patient privacy rights, covered entity duties, and the covered entity’s uses and disclosures of protected health information (PHI).

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Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Report Highlights Telehealth Program Integrity Concerns

On December 1, 2022, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) Health Care Subgroup issued its report on fraud, waste and abuse risks that arose as a result of the dramatic increase in telehealth services provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. The PRAC was created under the CARES Act to oversee the historic spending that was part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PRAC Health Care Subgroup comprises the offices of the inspector general (OIGs) for six federal agencies:

  • The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • The US Department of Defense (DoD)
  • The Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
  • The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Labor (DOL)
  • The US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Each OIG oversees an agency that administers a federal program connected to using or paying for telehealth services.

The report highlights the increased access to services that telehealth facilitated during the pandemic and notes key focus areas with respect to program integrity and preventing fraud and abuse. The report is a resource intended to be used by stakeholders across the healthcare industry, including congressional lawmakers, federal and state agencies, and healthcare organizations. The report aims to raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding expanded telehealth services against fraud, waste and abuse.

Read more here.

Employer Benefits to Assist with Student Loan Debt

What can employers do to assist workers with student loan debt? According to this PlanSponsor article, some strategies include direct-to-worker payments or an indirect option for student debt repayment benefits. McDermott Partner Jeffrey Holdvogt said a loan consolidation or refinancing option can help workers get a lower interest rate.

“There’s an expectation that many individuals will begin repaying student loans again sometime soon and what should employers be thinking about in terms of student loan benefits [for workers]? There’s a few different buckets of options for employers to provide student loan benefits,” Holdvogt said.

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EEOC Alleges Abortion Travel Benefits Violate ADA, Title VII; Abortion Rates Tick Up; Indiana Judge Rules Ban Violates Religious Freedom

Lawyers are advising employers to beef up their health-related travel benefits to emphasize equal access for all employees as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission begins to target employers that have expanded travel coverage for abortions.

EEOC’s charges come as new data indicate the rate of abortions accessed by Americans has ticked up, reversing a years-long decline, according to a new census from the Guttmacher Institute.

While litigation over state bans simmers in several states, abortion activists scored a win in Indiana after a judge ruled the state’s ban violates religious freedom protections enacted by statehouse Republicans. Abortion access has been temporarily restored in Indiana while litigation continues.

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