Annual Filing Reminders

Posted February 13, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

As we head into the last few weeks of February, we want to take this opportunity to remind employers about the following upcoming annual filing deadlines:

  • Annual Prescription Drug Notice
    Group health plans must notify the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) each year regarding whether the group health plan’s prescription drug coverage offered to Medicare Part D-eligible individuals is “creditable” or “non-creditable.” This notice must be done electronically by completing the online registration and disclosure form on the CMS website. CMS has also published, on its website, guidance regarding the notice and the information required for the filing.The compliance date(s) for this annual disclosure is: (a) within 60 days after the beginning of the plan year (e.g., for a calendar year plan year, by March 1, 2018); (b) within 30 days after the termination of the plan’s prescription drug coverage; and (c) within 30 days of any change in the creditable coverage status of the prescription drug plan.
  • HIPAA Breach Report
    HIPAA-covered benefit plans are required to report any breach during a calendar year involving less than 500 individuals to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on an annual basis. Any such breach that occurred during the year must be reported to HHS by completing the disclosure form on the HHS website.The compliance date for this annual disclosure is within 60 days after the end of the calendar year (i.e., by March 1, 2018).
  • ACA Reporting Deadlines
    Pursuant to the ACA, Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) and employers that self-insured their medical benefits must file information returns with the IRS and distribute health coverage information forms to their employees, via Form 1095-C or 1095-B, as applicable.The compliance date(s) for filing 2017 information returns with the IRS is February 28, 2018 for paper filers and April 2, 2018 for electronic filers. Per IRS Notice 2018-06, the deadline for employers to distribute 1095-C or 1095-B forms to their employees was extended 30 days and is now March 2, 2018.

For questions, concerns or additional assistance, please contact your Account Executive or Account Manager.

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

HRCI & SHRM Pre-Approved Webinar | Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Addressing and Eliminating this Inappropriate Behavior

Posted February 9, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

Sexual harassment and abusive conduct not only create a hostile work environment, but cost employers billions each year in lawsuits, employee turnover and lost revenue. With the recent increased focus on workplace harassment, employers are encouraged to evaluate their management practices to ensure they implement and maintain appropriate measures for a harassment-free, safe work environment.

Join us for this HRCI* and SHRM** pre-approved, complimentary, one-hour webinar as our Director of Crawford HR Services, Cindy Wagner, dives into the very sensitive, yet, very relevant topic of sexual harassment that should resonate with everyone not only in the workplace, but outside of the workplace as well.

We will review some tools and discuss methodologies to help organizations of all sizes address issues relating to workplace harassment that include:

  • What is harassment?
  • Proactive measures to avoid inappropriate workplace behavior
  • Responding to harassment complaints
  • Avoid retaliation claims
  • HR’s role in workplace harassment prevention

Webinar Details:

  • Thursday, February 22, 2018
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm EST
  • No cost to attend
  • This webinar is open to all HR and Finance Professionals, but not to brokers, agents, TPAs and PEOs.
  

*The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute’s (HRCI) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval. This activity has been approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR, PHR, PHRca, SPHR, GPHR, PHRi, and SPHRi recertification through HRCI.

**Crawford Advisors is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

#WellnessWednesday – February is Heart Health Month!

Posted January 31, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

Tomorrow (already!) begins the second month of 2018, but is also the kickoff to Heart Health Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S., but is also one of the most preventable diseases by making healthy choices and managing health conditions.

Here are some statistics to give an idea of the annual effects of heart disease:

  • Heart disease claims approximately 1 million lives annually.
  • Heart disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.
  • In the U.S., someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds, and every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart disease-related event.
  • Direct and indirect costs of heart disease total more than $320 billion each year which includes health expenditures and lost productivity.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • Approximately 1 in 31 deaths of women is attributable to breast cancer, whereas 1 in 7.5 female deaths is attributable to coronary heart disease.

How can YOU make a difference during Heart Health Month?

  • Educate yourself, your family and friends, and your community about the strategies to prevent heart disease and encourage them to have their hearts checked and commit to a heart-healthy lifestyle. For example:
    • Encourage friends and family to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt.
    • Motivate teachers and administrators to make physical activity a part of the school day. This can help students start good habits early.
    • Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease.
  • Register for heart disease events and fundraisers in your community to not only provide more awareness on this silent killer, but to raise money for heart disease foundations to help support heart research.
  • And join us this Friday, February 2, and wear RED on National Wear Red Day to increase awareness of heart disease. Post photos of you, your family, your friends and your coworkers wearing red on social media with the hashtag #WearRedandGive to support the Go Red For Women movement, which provides educational programs to increase women’s awareness about their risk for heart disease and stroke as well as critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.
For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

USA – Open for Business (Again) – Cadillac Tax Delayed (Again) until 2022

Posted January 22, 2018 by PHaynes

While we all may not wish to applaud Congress today, many Employers and Plan Sponsors have something to be grateful for.  The leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives included a two-year delay of the 40% “Cadillac Tax” in their proposal to continue funding the government until February 8, 2018.  This two-year delay will push the effective date for the “Cadillac Tax” to 2022, and will help to protect health care coverage for the more than 178 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance.

“We applaud efforts to delay the ‘Cadillac Tax’ that is driving up health care costs for millions of Americans,” said James A. Klein, President of the American Benefits Council. “Employer-sponsored health coverage is efficient, effective, and stable. We will continue our efforts to fully repeal this onerous tax that forces employers to reluctantly cut benefits and increase out-of-pocket costs for employees in an attempt to avoid it. We appreciate Congress including this two-year delay as a down payment for full repeal.”

“Employers create innovative and cutting-edge benefit plans to help maintain a healthy workforce. Taxing these benefits could compel employers to stop offering wellness programs or on-site clinics and ultimately drive up costs for workers and employers, alike,” said Klein.

The Cadillac Tax imposes an annual 40 percent excise tax on plans with annual premiums exceeding $10,800 for individuals or $29,500 for a family.  The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) continues to strongly advocate for legislation that exclusively repeals the Cadillac Tax as championed by Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT).   The major hurdle to the effort continues to be the $87 billion cost associated with the bill, a figure with which The Council and our allies take issue. We will continue to work with our Congressional allies to see a full repeal of the tax.

Repealing the Cadillac Tax is a top legislative priority for The Council and we’re pleased to see the two year delay included in this agreement. The agreement will also delay the medical device tax for two years and the health insurance tax for one year.

Health Insurance Industry Fee (a.k.a. Health Insurer Tax)
The short-term spending bill also suspends the Health Insurance Industry Fee for 2019. This fee began in 2014 and only affects fully-insured health plans. It was previously suspended for 2017, but went back into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Medical Device Tax
Previously suspended for 2016 and 2017, the 2.3% excise tax on U.S. medical device revenues also restarted on Jan. 1, but will now remain suspended for two years through the end of 2019.

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EEOC Given a Year to Once Again Update Wellness Program Rules

Posted January 19, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

In May 2016, we blogged about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) Wellness Rules Update, which proposed incentives (or penalties) for participating (or not participating) in wellness programs that may not exceed 30% of a group health plan. Next, we followed up in September 2017 with how the EEOC’s New Wellness Program Rules were a Bust as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) argued that the requirements were in no way “voluntary” as employees who did not want to participate and can’t afford to pay the 30% penalty would be forced to disclose their protected information, when otherwise, they wouldn’t have to do so.

Fast forward to December 20, 2017, when Judge John Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the wellness plan incentive rules, forcing the EEOC to go back to the drawing board to rewrite the regulations and to pursue and follow the true, dictionary-defined term, “voluntary.”

The EEOC was first given a rather lackadaisical timeline: new proposed regulations – August 2018, final rule – October 2019, and an effective date in January of 2021. Now, the EEOC has been given a year to adjust the rules: status report to review rules – March 30, 2018, new proposed regulations – August 31, 2018, and an effective date of January 1, 2019.

What does this mean for you and your health and welfare plans?

If you’ve already engaged your health and welfare benefit consultants, claims payers and others to craft, build and roll out your wellness plans, then you’ve already made a strategic decision to have a wellness plan. You invested in a process to drive education, cost-sharing and to engage employees to take control of their health. Given this new guidance, there’s little to be gained by eliminating, revamping or second-guessing the decisions you’ve already made. Besides, take advantage of the confusion and continue your competitive offering, because you can believe other employers will.

So, for now, maintain your plans and continue to provide incentivized achievements for your employees to better improve their well-being, and we will update you when new regulations and guidance become available.

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

Maryland General Assembly Passes New Law – The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

Posted January 18, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

On Friday, January 12, 2018, the Maryland Senate voted 30-17 to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the “Act”), which passed the Maryland General Assembly last year. That was one more vote than the bill received in the Senate last year. You can find a summary, documents and history of the Act on the General Assembly of Maryland’s website.

The Act will become Law in 30 days, unless the General Assembly acts to delay its implementation. It requires employers to provide paid “Earned Sick and Safe Leave” to hundreds of thousands of Maryland workers. Governor Hogan put forth a vigorous fight to pick off a few Democrats in each chamber to sustain his veto, but his efforts fell short. The sick leave bill was the single most politically charged issue leftover from the 2017 Legislative Session. It pitted progressive groups and some labor unions against business groups in the six-year struggle that culminated in Friday’s vote.

Senator Bobby Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat who opposed the bill last year, switched his vote to support the override. After the vote, Hogan’s spokeswoman, Amelia Chasse, issued a statement urging lawmakers to change the bill they just passed to bring it closer to the “compromise” bill the governor had offered as an alternative. This law is currently scheduled to take effect on February 11, 2018, but Senate President, Thomas Middleton, stated that they may be seeking an extension to make the law effective after 90 days instead.

In the meantime, as the political posturing is over, it’s time to get down to business. Governor Hogan is creating a State Office, the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance, to assist small businesses in response to the mandate for paid sick leave workers. While trying to help small businesses cope with the law’s impact, Hogan had urged lawmakers to support an alternative that would have applied to businesses with 25 or more workers by 2020.

The Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide their employees with at least one (1) hour of Sick and Safe Leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid Sick and Safe Leave per year. Smaller employers with 14 or fewer employees will be required to provide their employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid Sick and Safe Leave annually. Employees who have accrued unused Sick and Safe Leave at the end of each year must be permitted to carry over that leave to the following year, though employers may impose a 40-hour carry over cap.

Under the Act, employees can use Sick and Safe Leave to care for or treat the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or condition; to obtain preventive medical care for the employee or the employee’s family members; to care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or condition; for maternity or paternity leave; or in situations where the absence is necessary due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member. A family member includes the employee’s children, parents, spouse, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.

The Act contains several important exceptions and carve-outs. The Act will not apply to:

  • Employees who regularly work less than 12 hours a week;
  • Employees who are employed in the construction industry and are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that expressly waives the requirements of the law; and
  • Certain “as-needed” employees in a health or human services industry.

In addition, employers will not be required to allow employees to:

  • Carry over more than 40 hours of accrued, unused Sick and Safe Leave from year to year;
  • Use more than 64 hours of Sick and Safe Leave in a year;
  • Accrue more than 64 hours at any time; or
  • Use Sick and Safe Leave during the first 106 calendar days that the employee works for the employer (although leave must accrue during this initial employment period).

Once the Act goes into effect, Maryland will join Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Arizona, Washington, and Rhode Island to become the ninth state to require employers to provide paid sick leave. Washington D.C. also has a paid sick leave law.

In summary, some employers will need to revise their current Paid Time Off policies to reflect the requirements of the new law, which becomes effective February 11, 2018.

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

HRCI & SHRM Pre-Approved AssuredPartners’ Webinar | ACA Play or Pay Enforcement: The Taxman Cometh

Posted January 16, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

Although the ACA has occupied your time and attention for almost 8 years now, it may be hitting your bottom line in a distinct and powerful way as the IRS begins to assess Play or Pay penalties. This is mail no one wants to receive – both because the IRS provides only 30 days to respond and because the assessed penalties can be huge dollars. Join us, AssuredPartners and Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC’s Counsel, Jamie L. Leary, for this HRCI* and SHRM** pre-approved, complimentary, one-hour webinar to learn how the assessment works and what you can do NOW, so that if you receive one of these, you won’t be caught off guard.

Webinar Agenda:

  • Short refresher course on the ACA’s Play or Pay mandate
  • How the IRS is notifying employers of potential assessments
  • How employers can analyze the assessment to determine whether it is correct
  • How – and how quickly – an employer must respond

Webinar Details:

  • Wednesday, January 24, 2018
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm EST
  • No cost to attend
  • This webinar is open to all HR and Finance Professionals, but not to brokers, agents, TPAs and PEOs.
  

 


*The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute’s (HRCI) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval. This activity has been approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR, PHR, PHRca, SPHR, GPHR, PHRi, and SPHRi recertification through HRCI.

**Crawford Advisors is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

Happy Holidays, From Our Team to Yours!

Posted December 22, 2017 by Megan DiMartino

US House and Senate Pass Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017

Posted December 20, 2017 by PHaynes

Yesterday the House of Representatives voted along party lines today to pass H.R. 1, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, by a vote of 224-201. This followed Senate passage last night by a party-line vote of 51-48. with Sen. McCain not voting while recovering in Arizona from cancer treatments.  The President is expect to sign the legislation this week.

HR1 makes significant changes to individual and corporate provisions of the U.S. tax code, including a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21%, down from 35%, beginning in 2018. The bill includes permanent effective repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate, requiring individuals to purchase and maintain health coverage, by zeroing out the penalty beginning in 2019. For 2018, most individuals are still required to maintain coverage or pay a penalty when they file their 2018 federal income tax return.

The legislation avoids taxing employer-sponsored health insurance benefits. In addition to the individual mandate repeal, this legislation restores cost-sharing  payments to insurance companies, reforms the 1332 (state flexibility) waiver process (the so-called Alexander/Murray legislation), and create a federal reinsurance pool (the Collins/Nelson legislation).

It is neither clear when a vote on these ACA fixes being sought by Sen. Collins will happen in the Senate nor certain if the House will even consider it. The fate of Alexander/Murray and Collins/Nelson remains a sticking point in final legislation to avoid a government shutdown this week. As of today, the Senate appears poised to consider the legislation in its funding package, while House conservatives remain opposed to any effort to shore up the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, House Leadership separately plans to move legislation to further delay the Cadillac Tax by one year and create a moratorium on employer mandate penalties from 2015-2018. The moves are significant for Council members as the IRS began imposing significant penalties last month for violation of the employer mandate

HR1 changes how certain tax thresholds will be indexed for inflation. Affected provisions, including the ACA “Cadillac” Tax (scheduled to take effect in 2020), will now be indexed to the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of the regular CPI (the previous metric). That change makes it likely that more employer-sponsored plans would trigger the Cadillac tax sooner.   Accordingly, other legislation calls for a further delay on the Cadillac Tax until 2021 (the tax is currently scheduled to be effective in 2020, and the legislation introduced this week would implement the excise tax in 2021).  That legislation could be included in an end-of-year omnibus bill that could also repeal the medical device tax for five years, eliminate HSA restrictions for over the counter purchases for two years, repeal the Health Insurance Tax for some plans in 2018 and all plans in 2019, and reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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