Key Takeaways From an ERISA Fiduciary Breach Ruling on Behavioral Standards of Care After a 10-Day Trial

Behavioral health claims administrators and plan sponsors alike may be looking more closely at their care guidelines—and how they are applied—after a federal court ruled in a California class action that a claims administrator had breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by applying standards of care that were more restrictive than generally accepted standards and by improperly prioritizing cost savings.

Eighth Circuit Casts Doubt on Cross-Plan Offsetting for ERISA Health Plans

Employers may soon find themselves reviewing and revising health plan master documents and summary plan descriptions (SPDs) and administrative service agreements with respect to an obscure claims administration practice known as “cross-plan offsetting”—following a recent federal appeals court ruling.

Federal Judges Halt Expanded Exemption From ACA Contraceptive Mandate

In back-to-back decisions, two federal district court judges have blocked implementation of a Trump administration rule that would exempt more employers from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that employer-sponsored group health plans cover birth control supplies and services as preventive care without cost-sharing.

Under ERISA, Ignorance Is Bliss in the Ninth Circuit

In Sulyma v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that having access to documents disclosing an alleged breach of fiduciary duty is not sufficient to trigger the three-year statute of limitations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) if the plaintiff does not have actual knowledge of the alleged breach.

Is Nothing Sacred? ERISA Attacks Move From Church Plans to Government Plans

Having settled many of its attacks on pension plans sponsored by several large church-affiliated healthcare organizations, the plaintiff’s bar appears to be shifting focus to pension and welfare benefit plans maintained by a healthcare entity that is at least nominally an instrumentality of a state.

Proposed Rule Aims to Resurrect Health Reimbursement Arrangements

Under a proposed rule that the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly issued on October 29, 2018, employers may soon have more flexibility to fund health insurance coverage for employees through health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), other account-based group health plans, and individual health insurance policies.

Student Loan Repayments or Retirement Savings? Maybe Both . . .

Recent statistics show that approximately 70 percent of college graduates will leave college with an average of at least $30,000 in student loan debt. Cumulatively, the national student loan debt is approximately $1.5 trillion. This burden is causing millennials to wait longer than previous generations to buy houses, start families, and save for retirement. Although student loan indebtedness is not an issue employers can solve alone, a few are finding ways to recruit and retain talent by offering a helping hand to employees dealing with massive debt burdens.

Tax Treatment of Employer-Provided Fringe Benefits for International Assignees

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently clarified its position on two fringe benefits provided to employees on global assignments: tax equalization services and tax return preparation services. Memorandum Number 201810007 from the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel (OCC), released on March 9, 2018, concerned a large American company employing thousands of employees globally.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Employees Who Violate Attendance Policies May Not Be Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

Wisconsin employers that have found themselves frustrated by the fact that they can end an employment relationship for legitimate, business-related reasons yet the employee can still collect unemployment benefits were granted some relief by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in one of its final decisions of the 2017–2018 term.

Changes to Retirement Plan Loan Rollover Distribution Rules May Necessitate Updates to Your Special Tax Notices

On January 1, 2018, modifications to the rollover distribution rules for certain retirement plan participants with defaulted plan loans went into effect. As a result of a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the rollover distribution rules are now more relaxed for rollovers of defaulted loans resulting from plan terminations or a participant’s failure to repay a loan upon severance from employment.

Keystone State Targets the Gig Economy: Pennsylvania’s New Nonemployee Withholding and Reporting Requirements

On October 30, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania signed into law Act 43 of 2017. This new law provides that beginning July 1, 2018, Pennsylvania businesses that pay at least $5,000 in Pennsylvania-source nonemployee compensation or business income to a nonresident individual (or disregarded entity that has a nonresident member) are required to withhold from such payments the current applicable income tax rate (currently 3.07 percent).

2018 Arizona Legislative Session: What’s New for Arizona Employers?

Arizona’s fifty-third legislature ended in early May of 2018 while over 50,000 demonstrators protested for increased education funding at the state capitol. While the #RedForEd movement essentially ground all remaining legislative action for the 2018 session to a halt, the legislature did manage to pass 369 bills this session before its attention turned entirely to education funding. However, only four bills that substantively impact employers made it to the governor’s desk and either received his signature or were allowed to become effective after the veto deadline passed.

New Mental Health Parity Guidance and Enforcement Efforts May Warrant a Deep Dive Into Plan Administration

The Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are making good on their promise to issue more guidance and to aggressively enforce the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) by recently issuing a slew of new guidance, enforcement statistics, and promises of continued aggressive enforcement.

Fringe Benefits Affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on December 22, 2017, brought about the most sweeping overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) since 1986. Most of the changes took effect on January 1, 2018. This article covers the TCJA’s impact on employer-provided fringe benefits and offers insights, based on conversations with employers across the country, on how the changes may influence employers’ fringe benefit offerings in the years to come.