Tag Archives: White House

Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

Cost-sharing reduction subsidies to cease
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma issued a memorandum stating cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments made to issuers of qualified health plans will stop. The decision is based on a legal opinion provided by the Office of the Attorney General.

Executive order on healthcare allows the purchase of insurance across state lines
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on healthcare directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to update rules allowing small employers to create association health plans. Small businesses will be able to band together if they are within the same state, in the same line of business, or are in the same trade association.

For more information, click here.

Proposed extension of information collection request submitted for public comment
The DOL released a notice providing the general public and federal agencies the opportunity to comment on a revision of the “Coverage of certain preventive services under the Affordable Care Act—private sector” information collection request (ICR). The notice was issued to align the ICR with the executive order signed on May 4, 2017, “Executive order promoting free speech and religious liberty.”

For more information, click here.

Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

President signs bill keeping ACA “small group health plan” definition
President Barack Obama signed the “Protecting Coverage for Employees Act” (P.L.114-60) into law on October 7. The law keeps the current definition of “small group health plans” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) at 50 or fewer employees rather than groups of up to 100 employees beginning in 2016.

IRS health tax tip: Reporting requirements for applicable large employers
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Health Care Tax Tip 2015-62 regarding reporting requirements for applicable large employers. Under the healthcare law, applicable large employers—those with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, in the preceding year—are required to report some information regarding health coverage by filing information returns with the IRS and furnishing statements to full-time employees.

For more information, click here.

IRS health tax tip: Understanding minimum essential coverage
The IRS posted Health Care Tax Tip 2015-61 on minimum essential coverage. The ACA requires any person or organization providing minimum essential coverage, including employers that provide self-insured group health plans, to report this coverage to the IRS and furnish statements to the covered individuals. These reporting requirements affect:

• Health insurance issuers or carriers
• The executive department or agency of a governmental unit that provides coverage under a government-sponsored program
• Plan sponsors of self-insured group health plan coverage
• Sponsors of coverage that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated as minimum essential coverage

For more information, click here.

Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

Council of Economic Advisers report: Trends in healthcare cost growth and the role of the ACA
The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers has published a report analyzing recent trends in healthcare costs, the forces driving those trends, and their likely economic benefits. The report includes the following findings about recent trends:

• Healthcare spending growth is the lowest on record. According to the most recent projections, real per capita healthcare spending has grown at an estimated average annual rate of just 1.3% over the three years since 2010. This is the lowest rate on record for any three-year period and less than one-third the long-term historical average stretching back to 1965.
• Healthcare price inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years. Recent years have also seen exceptionally slow growth in the growth of prices in the healthcare sector, in addition to total spending. Measured using personal consumption expenditure price indices, healthcare inflation is currently running at just 1% on a year-over-year basis, the lowest level since January 1962. (Healthcare inflation measured using the medical Consumer Price Index [CPI] is at levels not seen since September 1972.)
• Recent slow growth in healthcare spending has substantially improved the long-term federal budget outlook. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reduced its projections of future Medicare and Medicaid spending in 2020 by $147 billion (0.6% of GDP) since August 2010. This represents about a 10% reduction in projected spending on these programs. These revisions primarily reflect the recent slow growth in health care spending…

To read the entire report, click here.

IRS updates ACA section 1341 transitional reinsurance program FAQs
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has updated its “ACA Section 1341 Transitional Reinsurance Program FAQs” webpage.

Section 1341 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) establishes a transitional reinsurance program to help stabilize premiums for coverage in the individual market during the years 2014 through 2016. The statute requires all health insurance issuers and third-party administrators on behalf of self-insured group health plans to make contributions under this program to support payments to individual market issuers that cover high-cost individuals (payment-eligible issuers). Regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement the Reinsurance Program specify that self-insured group health plans are liable for the contributions, although a plan may utilize a third-party administrator or administrative-services-only contractor for transfer of the contributions.

The U.S. Department of Labor has advised that paying required contributions under the Reinsurance Program would constitute a permissible expense of the plan for purposes of Title I of ERISA because the payment is required by the plan under the ACA as interpreted in the proposed rule issued by HHS.

To view the updated webpage, click here.

IRS presentation: Healthcare-related tax provisions that affect businesses
The IRS has published a slide presentation entitled “Healthcare-related tax provisions that affect businesses.” Topics include:

  • Transition relief for 2014 under sections 6056, 6055 and 4980H
  • Applicable large employer (ALE) status
  • Tax provisions for ALEs: Information reporting for ALE (section 6056), employer shared responsibility provisions (Section 4980H)
  • Tax provisions for small employers: Small business healthcare tax credit (section 45R)
  • Tax provisions for all employers that sponsor self-insured plans regardless of size: Reporting of minimum essential coverage (section 6055)

 
To view the entire slide presentation, click here.

Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

President calls for one-year extension of small group and individual health insurance renewals
The president has announced an administrative fix that calls for a one-year extension of the canceled health insurance policies sold in the small group and individual markets, responding to criticism from those who “like their insurance” and want to “keep their insurance.”

Under the president’s solution, state insurance commissioners are encouraged to permit renewals of small group and individual health insurance policies that do not satisfy certain Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards (e.g., modified community rating, guaranteed availability and renewability, and essential health benefits requirements).

Following the president’s announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a letter to state insurance commissioners providing details about the transitional policy of nonenforcement. In that letter, HHS notes it “will consider the impact of this transitional policy in assessing whether to extend it beyond the specified timeframe.” The letter also indicates that HHS has conferred with—and received concurrence from—the Departments of Labor and Treasury on shared-jurisdiction issues.

To be eligible for the transitional policy, the HHS letter states that coverage had to have been in effect on October 1, 2013.

To read the entire HHS letter, click here.

CBO report includes benefits, payroll tax items among deficit reduction options
The U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2013 to 2023,” a biennial report discussing spending cuts and revenue raises. The report’s release coincided with CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf’s appearance before the House and Senate conference committee that is negotiating a fiscal year 2014 budget resolution. To avoid the across-the-board spending reductions required by the Budget Control Act’s sequestration cuts, lawmakers might consider components of the CBO’s report. In addition, the CBO’s options are expected to be considered by the congressional tax writers who are separately continuing to work on a tax reform plan.

The 361-page report, which contains more than 100 options for altering spending and revenues to reduce the federal budget deficit, includes the following items of interest in the employment/benefits arena:

• Increase federal insurance premiums for private pension plans
• Reduce tax preferences for employment-based health insurance
• Further limit annual contributions to defined contribution (DC) retirement plans
• Include employer-paid premiums for income replacement insurance in employees’ taxable income (i.e., subject the following to the individual income tax and the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare: the Federal Unemployment Tax Act [FUTA]/state unemployment program taxes; 50% of the premiums for workers’ compensation; and the portion of insurance premiums or contributions to pension plans funding disability benefits)
• Include all income that U.S. citizens earn abroad in taxable income
• Increase the maximum taxable earnings for the Social Security payroll tax
• Expand Social Security coverage to newly hired state/local government employees
• Increase the payroll tax rate for Medicare hospital insurance by one percentage point

To read the entire report, click here.