Federal lawmakers issue new benefits regulations

There are a number of recent federal agency rulings that benefits pros need to be aware of.

Payroll off the hook for CLASS Act withholding. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shelved the CLASS Act. According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the program can’t be put on an actuarially sound footing.

The CLASS Act—short for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act—was part of the 2010 healthcare reform law. It would have permitted individuals with functional limitations to stay in their homes by allowing them to purchase non-medical community assistance services and support. Employees would have paid for benefits through voluntary withholding.

The House recently voted to repeal the CLASS Act, but the measure to repeal is unlikely to be approved by the Senate or the White House.

While the Obama administration has admitted the program won’t work as presently constructed, it has said it’d like to see the act restructured rather than scrapped completely.

Compliance with summary of benefits and coverage rules pushed to September. The Department of Labor and the IRS have issued the final rules regarding the healthcare reform law requirement that all group health plans (including grandfathered plans, self-insured plans and plans not covered by ERISA) provide employees and beneficiaries with a simple explanation of their benefits and a uniform glossary covering basic health insurance and medical terms.

Proposed regulations had set an original compliance date of March 23, 2012.

That date has now been moved to September 23, 2012.

Click here to see our Special Report detailing the final rules.

HRA reporting under the Medicare-as-secondary-payer rule. Under the Medicare-as-secondary-payer rules, group health plans with health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) must file quarterly electronic reports with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Reporting applies to insurers and third-party administrators. For self-insured and self-administered plans, administrators or fiduciaries report.

The CMS has increased the reporting threshold to HRAs with annual benefit levels of at least $5,000 (up from $1,000), including amounts employees roll over.

Along with other information, plans must submit a notice of termination to the CMS’ Coordination of Benefits Contractor for employees who exhaust their HRAs if no additional funds will be added to employees’ HRAs for the rest of the benefit coverage term.

Benefits and health care will be a key topic of conversation at the 8th Annual Labor & Employment Law Advanced Practices (LEAP) Symposium, being held March 21-23 in Las Vegas at the ARIA Resort & Casino. Click here for more information about the event.  Early-bird discounts are about to expire.

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