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Legislative and regulatory actions slow down in the summer, but there are some significant developments that plan sponsors need to consider.

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EMPLOYER REPORTING OF HEALTH COVERAGE TO THE IRS

The Affordable Care Act requires that most employers file new reports annually with the IRS which provide details of the health care coverage they provide to their employees (or the fact that they do not provide such coverage).

In order that plan sponsors can begin to gather the information necessary to prepare these reports, the IRS has just released draft versions of the forms. Further guidance is expected to be released before September.  Please carefully review the information below and contact Touchstone if you need assistance.

  • Health Care Reform Bulletin: IRS Releases Draft Forms for Employer Reporting of Health Coverage   Document # 95752

Government guidance

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SUBSIDIES FOR HEALTH CARE COVERAGE IN QUESTION

The question of whether health care coverage obtained through the federal exchange marketplace will be subsidized was decided in court on July 22.  However, that the question was addressed in two different federal appeals courts which came to opposite conclusions.

The language of the Affordable Care Act specifies that such subsidies are available through state exchanges, so subsidies for individuals who receive coverage through the federal exchange (residents of most states) were not clearly stated in the law.

Employers who have determined that their employees would be better off finding coverage through the marketplace need to review their underlying assumptions.  The following references can help, although ultimately the question of subsidies will likely need to be decided by the Supreme Court.

  • Health Care Reform Bulletin: Federal Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on Subsidies in Federal Exchanges   Document # 107601

Government guidance

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FEDERAL CONTRACTORS SUBJECT TO NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER ON DISCRIMINATION 

The President has issued an Executive Order which bars employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for all federal contractors.  No religious exemption is noted.  For those employers which contract with the federal government, a review of the following information should be helpful.

  • Compliance Bulletin: President Obama Signs Executive Order Protecting LGBT Workers Document # 107590

Government guidance

  • The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, FACT SHEET: Taking Action to Support LGBT Workplace Equality is Good For Business, Fact Sheet
  • The White House, Executive Order: Further Amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity,  Executive Order 21 July 2014

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EEOC CLARIFIES ENFORCEMENT PRIORITIES Re THE PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION ACT 

Pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions were given the same protections afforded race, color, religion, sex, and national origin through the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amendment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  The EEOC has just issued detailed guidance that is especially important in determining how employee benefit coverage’s must be handled.  It also discusses these PDA protections in light of other protections afforded through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • Compliance Bulletin: EEOC Issues New Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination   Document # 107463

Government guidance

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NOTICE REQUIREMENTS IF CEASING COVERAGE OF ANY CONTRACEPTIVES 

In light of the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health & Human Services have jointly issued a FAQ to remind plan sponsors of their obligation to notify plan participants of any change in their preventive care coverage.  This guidance is aimed at closely-held, for-profit companies, but is applicable to any change in preventive care coverage.

  • Health Care Reform Bulletin: Notice Requirements for Employers Ceasing Contraceptive Coverage  Document # 107455

Government guidance