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Total Articles: 10

Association Health Plans: How Do You Solve a Problem Like a MEWA?

On June 19, 2018, the Department of Labor issued its highly anticipated final rule expanding the availability of association health plans (“AHPs”). The core purpose of an AHP is to allow small employers to band together and obtain coverage in the large group insurance market, which generally imposes fewer coverage requirements. For example, unlike the small group insurance market, policies issued in the large group insurance market are not required to cover “essential health benefits.”

New Association Health Plan Rule Will Help Gig Economy Workers

It’s a small step, but at least it’s progress. Federal regulators made it easier this week for gig workers to obtain health insurance on a more cost-effective basis, which should help to shore up the ranks of gig workers and make freelance work a more attractive option for a larger pool of talent.

Opioid Abuse in America: Can Your Employer Health Plan Be Part of the Solution?

There is an opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction crisis in this country, and it impacts many employees and their family members. A substantial percentage—perhaps as high as 40 percent based on recent reports—of opioid addicts are covered by employer group health plans.

Final Association Health Plan Guidance Released

On June 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule on association health plans (AHPs). The final rule generally is consistent with the proposed rule published on January 5, 2018, and allows employers and sole proprietors to band together on the basis of geography or industry.

Ninth Circuit’s Expansion of Successor Liability May Make Asset Purchases More Costly

n June 1, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that an asset purchaser that was deemed a successor was liable to pay the seller’s withdrawal liability even though the purchaser did not have actual knowledge of the liability. The Ninth Circuit found that constructive notice of the liability was sufficient to impose withdrawal liability on the asset purchaser. This ruling raises the hurdles that a successor must overcome to avoid withdrawal liability in an asset sale transaction.

Constructive Notice Enough for Successor Withdrawal Liability, Ninth Circuit Holds

The expansion of the multiemployer pension plan successor withdrawal liability doctrine continues for asset purchasers. Establishing a constructive notice standard, the federal appellate court in San Francisco has ruled that a common law successor of a seller that withdrew from a multiemployer pension plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendment Act (MPPAA), had constructive notice of, and was therefore liable for, withdrawal liability incurred by the asset seller. Heavenly Hana, LLC v. Hotel Union & Hotel Industry of Hawaii Pension Plan, No. 16-15481 (9th Cir. June 1, 2018).

Benefits Update (No. 2, June 2018)

Reference-Based Pricing: Another Self-Insured Option for Employers

401(k) Fee Litigation: Coming to a District Court Near You...

Until recently, the Carolinas were relatively immune to litigation surrounding alleged excessiveness of 401(k) plan fees. But last month in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, employees of big-box retailer Lowe’s filed a complaint alleging that the company’s fiduciary decisions to replace certain investments funds with a “largely untested” and “underperforming” alternative caused the loss of millions of dollars in potential earnings for plan participants. While fiduciary actions are common during economic downturns, this matter – coupled with the development of relevant case law – suggests that allegations involving 401(k) plan costs and lost investment opportunities may become just as common during a boom.

New Tax Law May Affect Mileage Reimbursement Policy for Employers

Outside of potential minimum wage issues, there is no federal law requiring employers to reimburse employees who use their personal vehicles for business purposes.

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.