The new compliance focus on executive compensation, as announced by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on March 3, 2023, has significant implications for how healthcare organizations address both corporate compliance and compensation programs for their executives. It also raises new issues for the board of directors’ oversight of compliance and compensation functions.
We recently reported on an FAQ issued December 23, 2022 (FAQ About Affordable Care Act and Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 Implementation Part 56) by the US Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments). The FAQ provides limited, albeit welcome, relief by extending the time for reporting information under the prescription drug data collection (RxDC) rules, which were enacted by Section 204 of Title II of Division BB of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
Under the statute, the first RxDC reports for the 2020 calendar (or reference) year, were due to be filed by December 27, 2021. However, in response to concerns expressed by stakeholders, enforcement was pushed back a full year to December 27, 2022, at which time the reports for both the 2020 and 2021 reference years were due. The RxDC reporting process required the submission of one or more “plan lists,” a series of eight data files (files D1 through D8) and an accompanying narrative response. (The contents of the plan lists, data files and narrative responses are comprehensively explained here (the Instructions).)
An important new governance survey suggests an increasing willingness to consider linking a company’s ESG performance measures to executive incentive compensation. Such a practice would demonstrate a significant corporate embrace of social responsibility principles. But implementing such measures may present boards and their compensation committees with practical implementation challenges.
The new survey from The Conference Board, “Linking Executive Compensation to ESG Performance” (the “Survey”), essentially concludes that tying some portion of executive compensation to ESG principles is becoming a mainstream governance practice. Indeed, Survey data suggests that the percentage of S&P 500 companies that have adopted ESG performance measures is increasing at a steady pace—from 66 percent in 2020 to 73 percent in 2021.
In this three-part podcast series focusing on healthcare governance, McDermott Partner Michael Peregrine joins the American Health Law Association to discuss a range of governance issues, including the following:
The nature and scope of the fiduciary responsibilities facing board members within nonprofit health systems;
Standards of conduct, expectations and the line between governance and management;
The board’s role in tackling the pressing challenges facing nonprofit health systems, including environment, social and governance issues;
How to handle issues related to charitable status, cybersecurity and the US Department of Justice’s recent pronouncements on corporate compliance;
How legal counsel can advise their clients who are board members of nonprofit health systems; and
How chief legal officers can effectively share information with the board, approaches to board education and training, and the role of board assessments.
Effective January 1, 2023, Washington employers must comply with SB 5761, commonly known as Washington’s Pay Transparency Law, signed by Governor Jay Inslee on March 30, 2022. SB 5761 amends Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunity Act (RCW 49.58) to require employers with 15 or more employees to include in each job posting the wage scale or salary range of the job and a general description of all of the benefits offered and to identify other compensation offered. The law also requires employers to provide existing employees who are promoted or offered a new position with the wage scale or salary range of the new position.
The board’s executive compensation committee is the focus point for many of the extraordinary financial, economic and operating challenges currently facing healthcare organizations. Executive compensation increases are impacted by both an inflationary economy and significant revenue downturn. In addition, the US Department of Justice has identified executive compensation as an important conduit through by which corporate compliance incentives and deterrence can be implemented. Furthermore, executive recruitment and retention amidst the “Great Resignation” remains a key compensation concern.
These and similar issues have become important agenda items for the board’s executive compensation Committee. Michael Peregrine is joined by industry experts Tim Cotter and Ralph DeJong for the first in a two-part conversation about the impact of the developments on the compensation committee, including:
Key topics for briefing the board’s compensation committee.
Increasing communication between the compensation committee and the C-Suite.
Addressing pressures felt by executive committee members.
Insights from the Sullivan Cotter compensation data survey.
Projections for the impact of inflation on next year’s salary increases.
Expectations for future CEO salary increases and organization departures.
The segmenting approach to leadership plans.
Coordination with the Audit & Compliance Committee on compensation incentives
On September 26, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the amendment deadline for non-governmental qualified retirement plans, plans covered under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). The extensions included many of the amendment deadlines under the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act), the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 (Miners Act), and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). See our prior On the Subject about this earlier extension. Missing from this earlier IRS extension was a postponement of deadlines relating to certain CARES Act provisions, in particular those related to COVID-related distributions and loan relief, as well as deadlines relating to disaster-related loans or distributions under the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Disaster Act).
NEW IRS EXTENSION
IRS Notice 2022-45 provides a new extension to December 31, 2025, of the special amendment deadlines included in Section 302 of the Disaster Act and in Section 2022 of the CARES Act.
Section 2022 of the CARES Act provided for COVID-related distributions, increased loan amounts and delayed loan repayments.
Section 302 of the Disaster Act provided favorable tax treatment for certain disaster-related loans or distributions.
Previously, amendments for these CARES Act and Disaster Act provisions would have been required by the end of the 2022 plan year. The Notice also clarifies that CARES Act and Disaster Act amendments adopted before the new December 31, 2025, deadline will not cause the plan to fail to satisfy the anti-cutback requirements of Code Section 411(d)(6) or of Section 204(g) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
The extension applies to individual retirement accounts (IRAs), to qualified plans that are not governmental plans and to Code Section 403(b) plans that are not maintained by a public school. The amendment deadlines for Code Section 403(b) plans maintained by a public school, and for governmental plans (including plans covered by Code Section 457(b)), remain slightly different.
Most tax-qualified retirement plans and Code Section 403(b) plans that elected to offer COVID-related distributions and loan relief can now wait to adopt changes required under the CARES Act, SECURE Act, MINERS Act or Disaster Act in a single amendment no later than December 31, 2025.
A recent US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit case supplies answers to many questions left open in 401(k) fee litigation cases after the US Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year in Hughes v. Northwestern University. Specifically, to survive a motion to dismiss in the Seventh Circuit, the recent ruling in Albert v. Oshkosh Corp. reiterated that plaintiffs must allege both high fees and substandard services or performance in comparison to other similar 401(k) plans.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued needed relief to extend some amendment deadlines for non-governmental qualified retirement plans and 403(b) plans, and for individual retirement accounts (IRAs) under the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act), the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 (Miners Act), and certain provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) until December 31, 2025. However, the IRS did not provide relief for all required amendments for the 2022 plan year. Plan sponsors that elected to offer COVID-related distributions or loan relief (or utilized disaster-related relief for loans or distributions under the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020) still need to amend their plans by the end of 2022 plan year.
On August 25, 2022, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted final rules to implement the pay versus performance disclosure requirement mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act). The Dodd-Frank Act added Section 14(i) to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which directs the SEC to adopt rules that require registrants to clearly disclose the relationship between executive compensation actually paid and the registrant’s financial performance. More than 12 years after US Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC has adopted Item 402(v) of Regulation S-K to put these disclosure requirements into effect in time for the 2023 proxy season.