The Sixth Circuit, has decided, on remand from the Supreme Court, that the Michigan Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act (Act) is not preempted by ERISA. The Act imposes a 1 percent tax on all paid claims by insurers or third party administrators (TPAs) for health services rendered in Michigan to Michigan residents. The case was brought by the Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA), a trade association representing the sponsors of self-insured health plans and their TPAs, alleging the Act was preempted by ERISA. The trial court dismissed the case, concluding that the law was not preempted by ERISA. The Sixth Circuit also held that the Act was not preempted. After granting certiorari, the Supreme Court vacated this judgment and remanded the case to the Sixth Circuit for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gobeille v. Liberty Mut. Life Ins. Co., which invalidated a Vermont statute that required an ERISA plan to report health care information to an all-payer claims database, since the Vermont law interfered with nationally uniform plan administration. On remand, the Sixth Circuit reaffirmed its original decision, finding that nothing in Gobeille warranted overturning its decision.
March 23, 2016
1:00 – 2:00 pm EDT / 12:00 – 1:00 pm CDT
McDermott Will & Emery invites you to a webcast to hear how employers and third-party administrators protect the privacy of employee participants’ personal information. On March 23, 2016, Ann Killilea and Andrew Liazos will discuss complex issues faced by employers and the impact on employee benefit plan sponsors, and address the following topics related to managing data breaches:
- Beyond HIPAA: Privacy and data security issues relevant to ERISA fiduciaries
- Security threats to benefit plans
- Fiduciary duties to protect regulated personal information
Ann Killilea is counsel in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and brings to the Firm and to its Global Privacy and Data Protection Affinity Group more than 25 years of experience as senior in-house corporate counsel advising Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), and its predecessor companies Compaq Computer Corporation and Digital Equipment Corporation, all multinational companies in the information technology industry.
Andrew C. Liazos is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and regularly represents Fortune 500 companies, public companies, large closely held businesses and compensation committees on all aspects of executive compensation; ERISA fiduciary and compensation plan governance; employee benefits in business transactions; initial public offerings and bankruptcy; international compensation planning and related litigation matters. He also counsels executives in employment agreement and joint-venture negotiations.
CLE credit for the live presentation of this program is pending in the states of California, Illinois, New York and Texas. A Uniform Certificate of Attendance will be made available to participants requesting CLE credit in all other states. Please be advised that CLE credit will not be approved for on-demand/recorded viewings of this program in the states listed above. Attendees seeking credit in other states should consult their state CLE accrediting agency to determine whether self-study credit can be earned for on demand/recorded viewing of this program.
In many transactions, particularly those where the buyer is a portfolio company of a private equity fund, the buyer agrees to cause its 401(k) plan to accept a transfer of assets from the seller’s 401(k) plan. The asset transfer from the seller’s plan provides the buyer’s with an asset base with which to negotiate the best possible administrative fee structure, and seamlessly transfers the retirement plan benefits of employees being retained or hired by the buyer. If the seller’s plan contains employer stock as an investment however, the buyer should be aware of fiduciary concerns that may arise under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended.
“Stock-drop” litigation is a well-known phenomenon centering on plan fiduciary liability to plan participants when the value of employer stock investments in a retirement plan drops significantly. Less well-known is the fiduciary liability exposure facing new 401(k) plan sponsors and fiduciaries accepting a transfer of assets from the seller’s plan that includes former employer stock. Holding a significant block of a single security that is not company stock implicates ERISA prudence and diversification issues, and must be closely monitored.
Fiduciaries of 401(k) plans considering accepting asset transfers of former employer stock have often been advised to engage counsel to evaluate the prudence of holding the former employer stock in the buyer’s plan as an investment alternative (even if “frozen” to new investment) and establish a timeline for requiring that plan participants divest the former employer stock within one to two years of the asset transfer from the seller’s plan.
In light of the decision in Tatum v RJR Pension Inv. Comm., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 14924 (4th Cir. Aug. 4, 2014), buyer 401(k) plan sponsors and plan fiduciaries must now be even more careful to engage in a process that separates fiduciary from non-fiduciary acts and carefully follows established procedures for implementing any required divestitures of former employer stock. In Tatum, the plan was not properly amended to require the divestiture of former employer stock. This failure to properly amend the plan converted a plan design decision, which was a non-fiduciary or “settlor” decision, into a fiduciary act. In Tatum, the plan fiduciaries also failed to follow a prudent process for determining whether or not to eliminate former employer stock and for determining the timeline for implementing such divestitures.
The Tatum decision highlights that, in addition to fiduciary risk in holding former employer stock in the buyer’s 401(k) plan as an investment, there is also fiduciary risk in the process of eliminating former employer stock as an investment in the buyer’s plan.
When establishing a new 401(k) plan, the buyer should consult with legal counsel regarding the risks involved in accepting an asset transfer from a seller’s plan that includes former employer stock. Any new plan sponsors or plan fiduciaries that are contemplating accepting former employer stock as part of an asset transfer should consider whether or not they should engage an independent third party to monitor the former employer [...]