Health Plans Should Begin Preparing For ACA Low Income Voucher Responsibilities

The Affordable Care Act will require employer sponsored plans to honor vouchers to help pay the cost of coverage for certain lower income individuals and children.

Employers and their health plans will face new responsibilities to determine relevant family income, to provide information about their plans and costs of coverage, and to comply with voucher handling requirements for employees and others whose coverage will be paid for in whole or in part with these low income vouchers.  While the rules are still evolving,  employers and health plans nevertheless need to start preparing to meet these new responsibilities.  Employers and heatlh plans need to keep an eye on the development of these rules at the Federal and state level and begin planning for how they will administer these responsibilities.  

A Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Brief discusses some of the ways and implications of income determinations to be made for this purpose.

For Help With Investigations, Policy Updates Or Other Needs

If you have questions or need help responding to the RFI or have any questions or need help understanding or dealing with these or any other workforce management, employee benefits, compensation or other internal control concerns, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney and management consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

Ms. Stamer has advised, represented, trained, and defend a broad range of employer, employee benefit plan, insurance and other clients in relation to electronic and other communications and other employee benefit concerns and frequently publishes and is interviewed about electronic and other employee benefit plan communications and other employee benefit plan matters.  Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, and the Legislative Chair of the Dallas Human Resources Management Association Government Affairs Committee, Ms. Stamer helps businesses, employee benefit plans and other organizations solve problems, develop and implement strategies to manage people, processes, and regulatory exposures to achieve their business and operational objectives and manage legal, operational and other risks. Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, with more than 23 years management-focused human resource and employee benefits experience, Ms. Stamer helps businesses manage their people-related risks and the performance of their internal and external workforce though appropriate human resources, employee benefit, worker’s compensation, insurance, outsourcing and risk management strategies domestically and internationally. Throughout her career, Ms. Stamer has continuously has advised and represented a broad range of fiduciaries, plan sponsors, bankruptcy trustees, creditors, debtors, service providers and their officers and directors about the prevention, investigation, mitigation and resolutions of civil and criminal liability arising from suspected or know breaches of fiduciary duty, fraud or other misconduct involving health, pension or other employee benefit and insurance arrangements.  As a continuing part of this representation, Ms. Stamer regularly represents and defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries, third party administrators and other service providers and management officials in dealings with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general and other federal and state regulators and prosecutors and private plaintiffs in connection with investigations, prosecutions, audits and other actions arising from employee benefit, insurance and related arrangements and products.

Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble Premier AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls and other related risk management matters.  Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. In addition to her many ABA leadership involvements, she also serves in leadership positions in numerous human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, World At Work, the ICEBS, SHRM and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

Other Helpful Resources & Information

If you found this article of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing other Breaking News, articles and other resources available here including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here.  If you do not wish to receive these updates in the future, unsubscribe by updating your profile here.   

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive Right To Republish Granted To Solutions Law Press, Inc. All other rights reserved.

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IRS Guidance On Affordable Care Act W-2 Health Coverage Ccost Reporting Requirements

The Internal Revenue Service has released an advance copy of interim guidance implementing requirements that employers report to employees of the cost of their employer-sponsored group health plan coverage required under Internal Revenue Code (Code) § 6051(a)(14) of the Code, as enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The interim guidance contained in Notice 2011-28  generally applies beginning with 2012 Forms W-2 (that is, the forms required for the calendar year 2012 that employers generally are required to furnish to employees in January 2013 and then file with the Social Security Administration (SSA)). 

The Affordable Care Act will require that employers report to employees information about the cost of employer provided health care coverage beginning in January 2013.  According to Notice 2010-69, employers are permitted, but not required to report the cost of health coverage on any forms required to be furnished to employees prior to January 2013.  However, any employers that choose to report earlier (on the 2011 Forms W-2 generally furnished to employees in January 2012) may look to this notice for guidance regarding that voluntary earlier reporting.  

Reporting to employees pursuant to Code § 6051(a)(14) is for their information only. The report of the information is intended by Congress to inform employees of the cost of their health care coverage.  It does not cause otherwise excludable employer-provided health care coverage to become taxable.   This notice provides interim guidance that

Notice 2011-28 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2011-16 on April 18, 2011.

For Help With Affordable Care Act or Other Employee Benefits or HR Needs

The new W-2 reporting requirement is one of a multitude of changes impacting the responsibilities of employment based health care coverage enacted under the Affordable Care Act.

If you have any questions or need help responding to the Affordable Care Act or other any other health plan or insurance employee benefit, compensation, workforce or internal control concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here ©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

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Extended Grace Period For Some New Affordable Care Act Health Claims & Appeals Rules Gives Health Plans, Insurers Limited & Imperfect Relief

The Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services and Internal Revenue Service are extending a previously announced enforcement grace period under which the agencies will not take enforcement against health plans or health insurers that attempt to operate in good faith compliance with, but fail to meet certain new requirements for handing medical claims and appeals enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act). 

While health plans and insurers working in good faith to comply with the new requirements may find the enforcement relief helpful for dealing with some areas of uncertainty concerning the interpretation of certain requirements, it is important to keep in mind that the enforcement grace period provides only limited and somewhat imperfect relief.  As a consequence, health plans, health insurers and those responsible for their design and administration are encouraged to continue to move forward on efforts to comply with the new requirement in thoughtful and well-documented manners despite the announced grace period extension.

As signed into law on March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act generally requires that health plans and health insurance policies that are not “grandfathered” to begin complying with a series of new requirements by the first day of the first plan year that begins after September 22, 2010.  These new requirements include a number of new requirements about the way that nongrandfathered health plans and health insurance policies handle medical claims and appeals.  For instance, the Affordable Care Act as construed by the agencies in interim final regulations published by the agencies on July 23, 201 will require that non-grandfathered group health plans and insurers issuing non-grandfathered health insurance plans and policies:

  • Implement specified internal and external review procedures that among other things mandate independent external review of medical judgment based decisions in accordance with the regulations for reviews of appeals of medical judgment based denials;
  • Provide a broad range of new information in notices regarding claims and do so in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner;
  • Provide continued coverage pending the outcome of an internal appeal; and
  • Comply with a laundry list of additional criteria for ensuring that a claimant receives a full and fair review in addition to complying with the requirements of existing Labor Department claims and appeals procedures.

After the agencies jointly published interim final regulations defining and implementing these requirements on July 23, 2010, last September the agencies announced that they would not enforce certain elements (but not all) of the new requirements set forth in the interim final regulations against covered health plans or health insurers seeking to comply in good faith with the new requirements through July 1, 2011.  In the March 18, 2011 announcement, the Department of Labor said that the agencies now have agreed to extend this reprieve from agency enforcement of the requirements listed in the guidance against plans seeking to comply in good faith with the new requirements until plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2012.

While offering welcome relief, covered health plans and insurers, their sponsors and issuers should not over-estimate the reach and protection provided by this new guidance.  For instance:

  • First, in order to qualify for the enforcement grace period, efforts must be made to administer the health plan or health insurance policy in good faith compliance with the new requirements during the enforcement grace period. 
  • Second, the enforcement grace period provides only limited relief.  The extension to 2012 only four of a series of new requirements set forth in the interim final regulations.  Nongrandfathered plans and their administrators and insurers remain accountable for prudently administering claims and appeals in accordance with all other requirements of the Affordable Care Act as well as pre-existing claims and appeals regulations set forth in 2000 claims regulations issued by the Department of Labor pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
  • Third Furthermore, the enforcement grace period guidance only means that the agencies will not exercise their power to take action against a non-compliant plan.  It does not prevent plan members, health care providers with benefit assignments or other plan beneficiaries from bringing lawsuits against health plans, health insurers or their administrators for failing to comply with the new requirements during post- September 22, 2010 plan years even if the enforcement grace period otherwise protects the plan or insurer from agency enforcement action.  This means that health insurers and health plans may still run the risk that plan members or beneficiaries will ask courts to reverse claims or appeals denials or impose other penalties and sanctions against plans or their fiduciaries for failing to meet the new requirements for post-September 22, 2010 plan years.
  • Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the grace period guidance requires nongrandfathered plans and insurers to make “good faith” efforts to comply with the requirements covered by the relief during the grace period in order to be eligible to claim the relief offered by the enforcement grace period guidance.

Consequently, despite the relief announced March 18, nongrandfathered health plans still have significant work to do to comply with the new Affordable Care Act claims and appeals requirements even during the announced enforcement grace period.

For Help With Affordable Care Act or Other Employee Benefits or HR Needs

If you have any questions or need help responding to the Affordable Care Act or other any other health plan or insurance employee benefit, compensation, workforce or internal control concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here. To unsubscribe, e-mail here.

 

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

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ONC Says Studies Prove Investment in Health IT Justified

Researchers from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and other Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) leaders are touting new studies they say show the benefits of investing in health information technology (health IT).

ONC Says Studies Prove Investment In Health IT Justified

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as much as $27 billion Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments will be available to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals when they adopt certified EHR technology and successfully demonstrate “meaningful use” of the technology in ways that improve quality, safety, and effectiveness of patient-centered care.

On March 8, 2011, ONC researches reported results of a comprehensive review of recent studies it says show the effects of health IT on key aspects of health care on the ONC website and in Health Affairs. According to the authors, a current review of 154 peer-reviewed studies from July 2007 to February 2010 found:

  • More than 92 percent reached positive overall conclusions on the effects of health IT;
  • 30 percent found mixed but predominantly positive results; and
  • Ten articles were found to have negative or mixed-negative results.

ONC reports that the review also reflected a new balance of evidence between HIT “leader” organizations and other entities, especially smaller medical practices. In previous years, much evidence has come from the “leaders.” The current review shows increased evidence of benefits for others as well.

ONC researchers report that negative findings in the study were most often associated with provider or staff satisfaction related to difficulties in the process of transitioning from paper-based to electronic-based records and care. The researchers conclude these findings “highlight the need for studies that document the challenging aspects of implementing HIT more specifically and how these challenges might be addressed,” such as through strong leadership or staff participation when adopting and implementing HIT. Read more at http://wp.me/ptOGJ-e9

For Help With Monitoring Developments, Compliance, Investigations Or Other Needs

If you need assistance monitoring federal health reform, policy or enforcement developments, or to review or respond to these or other health care or health IT related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising health care payers, health care providers, health IT and process inprovement, goverments, and other health industry clients about these and other matters. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers, health plans, health care IT and other and other health industry clients to design, use, and administer electronic medical record and other electronic recordkeeping, billing and claims, and other data and operating systems and related processes as well as m to deal with the privacy, contracting and other related compliance and risk management policies.A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns/ She also regularly designs and presents risk management, compliance and other training for health care providers, professional associations and others including highly popular programs on “Sex Drugs & Rock ‘N Role: Managing Personal Misconduct in Health Care,” “Managing Physician Performance” and others..   Her publications and insights appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

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CMS Finalizes Allotments To States To Pay Medicaid Part B Premiums For Qualifying Individuals

Charts showing the final allotments made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to States of funds to use to pay the Medicare Part B premiums for Qualifying Individuals (QIs) for the Federal fiscal year (FY) 2010 and the preliminary QI allotments for FY 2011 appear in the March 19, 2011 Federal Register.

The funds allotted are funds authorized by Congress pursuant to Section 111 of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, (MIPPA), Section 2 of the QI Program Supplemental Funding Act of 2008 (the SFA), Section 5005 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the “Emergency Aid to American Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake Act” (Haiti Earthquake Act). The final QI allotments for payment of Medicare Part B premiums for FY 2010 are effective October 1, 2009. The preliminary QI allotments for FY 2011 are effective October 1, 2010.

Review the charts here.

For Help With Monitoring Developments or With Compliance, Investigations, Training Or Other Needs

If you need assistance monitoring federal health policy or enforcement developments, or to review or respond to these or other health care related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to establish and administer medical privacy and other compliance and risk management policies, to health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. She also regularly designs and presents risk management, compliance and other training for health care providers, payers, employers, professional associations and others.   Her publications and insights appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources available a solutionslawpress.com

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New Insured Group Health Plan Non-Discrimination Rule Enforcement Delayed Pending Guidance; Agencies Invite Public Input on Rules

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recently announced that the agencies do not plan to enforce new rules that prohibit non-grandfathered insured group health plans from discriminating in favor of highly compensated employees until guidance is published on the workings of certain key elements of these requirements. 

The IRS announced the relief from enforcement of the new insured group health plan nondiscrimination requirements enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) in Notice 2011-1, which was published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin on January 7, 2011. 

Announced Relief From Agency Enforcement

According to Notice 2011-1, the Agencies determined that questions about the construction of certain aspects of the non-discrimination rules made it inappropriate to require insured group health plans to comply or to impose sanctions for their failure to comply with the new non-discrimination rules until the agencies publish certain regulations or other administrative guidance.  According to Notice 2011-1, pending the publication of further guidance, the agencies do not intend to enforce sanctions for non-compliance with the new non-discrimination rules and will not require insured group health plan sponsors to file IRS Form 8928 with respect to excise taxes resulting from the incorporation of Public Health Services Act (PHS Act) § 2716 into Internal Revenue Code (Code) § 9815.

New Insured Plan Non-Discrimination Rules

As part of the Affordable Care Act health care reforms, Congress amended the PHS, Code and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to require insured non-grandfathered group health plans to satisfy non-discrimination rules like those applicable to self-insured group health plans under Code § 105(h).  Unlike the taxation of highly compensated participants that generally results from a discriminatory self-insured group health plan, however, the Affordable Care Act provides for potentially draconian sanctions against an insured group health plan or its sponsor when an insured group health plan violates these non-discrimination requirements.

The Affordable Care Act generally provides that if a non-grandfathered insured employer-sponsored group health plan that discriminates in favor of highly compensated employees in a manner that would violate the non-discrimination requirements of Code § 105(h)(2) in any post-September 22, 2010 plan year, the plan or plan sponsor may face significant  excise taxes, civil money penalties, and lawsuits to compel it to provide nondiscriminatory benefits to non-highly compensated participants equivalent to the discriminatory benefits provided to highly compensated participants.

According to Notice 2011-1, the agencies determined from initial public comments that without regulations or other administrative guidance under PSA § 2716, plan sponsors are uncertain how to apply the nondiscrimination provisions.   Accordingly, Notice 2011-1 indicates that the agencies decided that their enforcement of the new insured group health plan nondiscrimination rules should be delayed until the publication of that guidance.  Notice 2011-1 invites concerned plan sponsors and others to submit comments on a broad range of concerns relating to this guidance.  According to Notice 2011-1, the deadline for submission of this input is March 11, 2011.

Implications of Relief For Insured Group Health Plans

While Notice 2011-1 indicates that HHS and DOL also plan to hold off enforcement of the new non-discrimination rules, it is unclear what effect, if any, the relief announced in the Notice will have on the ability of participants and beneficiaries to enforce the requirements by filing civil lawsuits under ERISA.  Under ERISA § 512, participants and beneficiaries generally have the ability to sue plans and their fiduciaries for equitable relief to enforce violations of ERISA.  As amended by the Affordable Care Act, the new non-discrimination requirements for insured group health plans of ERISA § 715(a)(1) are effective for all post-September 22, 2010 plan years.   Accordingly, while insured group health plans and their sponsors still potentially risk participant or beneficiary law suits if their program is discriminatory.

While awaiting further guidance from the agencies, insured and self-insured group health plans, their sponsors and fiduciaries should document their attempt to prudently evaluate and determine their responsibilities under the non-discrimination rules, and other federal laws.  In addition, plans, their fiduciaries, sponsors and service providers should begin implementing and administering the data collection and other processes that they are likely to need to test their programs for discrimination and perform other requirements.  To encourage the agencies to adopt regulations that are sensitive to the challenges of plan sponsors and plans in meeting these requirements, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, insurers and service providers also should provide input to the agencies and Congressional health care policy leaders about these concerns.

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance evaluating or updating your HSFA, HRA or other health and cafeteria plans in response to these new rules or auditing or assessing, updating or defending other labor and employment, employee benefit or compensation practices, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872. 

Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, management attorney and consultant Ms. Stamer is nationally and internationally recognized for more than 23 years of work helping employers; employee benefit plans and their sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries; employee leasing, recruiting, staffing and other professional employment organizations; and others design, administer and defend innovative workforce, compensation, employee benefit  and management policies and practices. The Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee, a Council Representative on the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Government Affairs Committee Legislative Chair for the Dallas Human Resources Management Association, and past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Ms. Stamer works, publishes and speaks extensively on wage and hour, worker classification and other human resources and workforce, employee benefits, compensation, internal controls and related matters.  She also is recognized for her publications, industry leadership, workshops and presentations on these and other human resources concerns and regularly speaks and conducts training on these matters. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested in exploring other Solutions Law Press, Inc. ™ tools, products, training and other resources here and reading some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ human resources or other updates here.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication see here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

 

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.™  All other rights reserved.

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IRS Expands Options For HFSAs , HRAS To Allow Over-The-Counter Drug Purchases With Drug Cards

Recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance loosens the conditions under which health flexible spending account (HFSA) and health reimbursement accounts may permit participants to use debit cards to purchase over-the-counter medicines or drugs after January 15, 2011. 

Under Internal Revenue Code rules amended by the Affordable Care Act, drug card and other over-the-counter prescription drug purchases must meet new requirements to qualify for reimbursement by a HFSA or HRA.  HFSA and HRA sponsors and administrators wishing to allow participants to use debt cards to purchase over-the-counter drugs must ensure that their arrangements comply with this updated guidance.  Sponsors and administrators that are unable or unwilling to meet the conditions established under the updated rules for allowing debt card reimbursement of over-the-counter drugs should act quickly to confirm that all relevant plan documents, procedures and communications clearly forbid reimbursement of over-the-counter medicines and drugs to the extent required by the updated rules. 

IRS Notice 2011-5 modifies IRS guidance providing that HFSA and HRA debit cards generally could not be used after January 15, 2011 to purchase over-the-counter medicines or drugs after January 15, 2011, except with respect to “90 percent pharmacies.” previously announced in Notice 2010-59

Under the new rules announced in Notice 2011-5, after January 15, 2011, the IRS has expanded the circumstances under which HFSA and HRA debit cards may continue to be used to purchase over-the-counter medicines or drugs depends on where and how they are purchased.  Different conditions must be met if the over-the-counter drug is purchased with a drug card from a vendor that under IRS rules:

  • Is a “90-percent pharmacy;”
  • Has a “health care related Merchant Code;
  • Is a non-health care merchant that has a pharmacy, or that sells prescription drugs via mail order or the web.

Where the applicable requirements established for each of these types of vendors is met, Notice 2011-5 permits HFSAs and HRAs to continue to allow participants to purchase over-the-counter drugs using debit cards after January 15, 2011.   In contrast, if the vendor is not one of these types of vendors or is a listed vendor but the applicable requirements for allowing a debit card purchase of an over-the-counter medicine for that type of vendor are not met, HFSA and HRA debit cards may not be used to purchase over-the-counter medicines or drugs after January 15, 2011.

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance evaluating or updating your HSFA, HRA or other health and cafeteria plans in response to these new rules or auditing or assessing, updating or defending other labor and employment, employee benefit or compensation practices, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872. 

Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, management attorney and consultant Ms. Stamer is nationally and internationally recognized for more than 23 years of work helping employers; employee benefit plans and their sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries; employee leasing, recruiting, staffing and other professional employment organizations; and others design, administer and defend innovative workforce, compensation, employee benefit  and management policies and practices. The Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee, a Council Representative on the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Government Affairs Committee Legislative Chair for the Dallas Human Resources Management Association, and past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Ms. Stamer works, publishes and speaks extensively on wage and hour, worker classification and other human resources and workforce, employee benefits, compensation, internal controls and related matters.  She also is recognized for her publications, industry leadership, workshops and presentations on these and other human resources concerns and regularly speaks and conducts training on these matters. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

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THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.™  All other rights reserved.

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