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HHS Nominee Vows To Tackle High Drug Costs, Despite His Ties To Industry

What is President Trump’s solution for fighting high drug prices? From Kaiser Health News, check out this article on the new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee.


Senate Democrats on Tuesday pressed President Donald Trump’s nominee for the top health post to explain how he would fight skyrocketing drug prices — demanding to know why they should trust him to lower costs since he did not do so while running a major pharmaceutical company.

Alex M. Azar II, the former president of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Trump’s pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services, presented himself as a “problem solver” eager to fix a poorly structured health care system during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Azar said addressing drug costs would be among his top priorities.

But armed with charts showing how some of Eli Lilly’s drug prices had doubled on Azar’s watch, Democrats argued Azar was part of the problem. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat, said Azar had never authorized a decrease in a drug price as a pharmaceutical executive.

“The system is broken,” Wyden said. “Mr. Azar was a part of that system.”

Azar countered that the nation’s pharmaceutical drug system is structured to encourage companies to raise prices, a problem he said he would work to fix as head of HHS.

“I don’t know that there is any drug price of a brand-new product that has ever gone down from any company on any drug in the United States, because every incentive in this system is towards higher prices, and that is where we can do things together, working as the government to get at this,” he said. “No one company is going to fix that system.”

Azar’s confirmation hearing Tuesday was his second appearance before senators as the nominee to lead HHS. In November, he faced similar questions from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during a courtesy hearing.

If confirmed, Azar would succeed Tom Price, Trump’s first health secretary, who resigned in September amid criticism over his frequent use of taxpayer-paid charter flights. A former Republican congressman who was a dedicated opponent of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Price had a frosty relationship with Democrats in Congress as he worked with Republicans to try to undo the law.

Price and the Trump administration often turned to regulations and executive orders to undermine the Affordable Care Act, since Republicans in Congress repeatedly failed to enact a repeal. “Repeal and replace” has been the president’s mantra.

But at the hearing, Azar was circumspect about his approach, noting that his job would be to work under existing law. “The Affordable Care Act is there,” he said, adding that it would fall to him to make it work “as best as it possibly can.”

Senate Republicans touted Azar’s nearly six years working for the department under President George W. Bush, including two years as a deputy secretary. Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) praised Azar’s “extraordinary résumé,” adding that, among HHS nominees, he was “probably the most qualified I’ve seen in my whole term in the United States Senate.” Hatch, who is the longest-serving Republican senator in history, has been a senator for more than 40 years.

In addition to drug costs, Azar vowed to focus on the nation’s growing opioid crisis, calling for “aggressive prevention, education, regulatory and enforcement efforts to stop overprescribing and overuse,” as well as “compassionate treatment” for those suffering from addiction.

Pressed about Republican plans to cut entitlement spending to compensate for budget shortfalls, Azar said he was “not aware” of support within the Trump administration for such cuts.

“The president has stated his opposition to cuts to Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security,” Azar said. “He said that in the campaign, and I believe he has remained steadfast in his views on that.”

But Democrats pushed back, pointing out that Trump had proposed Medicaid cuts in his budget request last year. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said such cuts would hurt those receiving treatment for opioid addiction.

“What happens to these people?” he said.

Despite such Democratic criticism, Azar is likely to be confirmed when the full Senate votes on his nomination. An HHS spokesman Tuesday pointed reporters to an editorial in STAT supporting Azar, written by former Senate majority leaders Bill Frist and Tom Daschle — a Republican and a Democrat. “We need a person of integrity and competence at the helm of the Department of Health and Human Services,” they wrote. “The good news is that President Trump has nominated just such a person, Alex Azar.”

Read further.

Source:

IRS Reporting Tip 2: 2017 Plan Year Form 1094-C, Line 22

Just in: From UBA Benefits, get the IRS Reporting Tips for Form 1094-C, Line 22.


Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals are required to have health insurance while applicable large employers (ALEs) are required to offer health benefits to their full-time employees.

In order for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that (1) individuals have the required minimum essential coverage, (2) individuals who request premium tax credits are entitled to them, and (3) ALEs are meeting their shared responsibility (play or pay) obligations, employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees and insurers are required to report on the health coverage they offer. Similarly, insurers and employers with less than 50 full time employees but that have a self-funded plan also have reporting obligations. All of this reporting is done on IRS Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C.

Form 1094-C

Form 1094-C is used in combination with Form 1095-C to determine employer shared responsibility penalties. It is often referred to as the "transmittal form" or "cover sheet." IRS Form 1095-C will primarily be used to meet the Section 6056 reporting requirement, which relates to the employer shared responsibility/play or pay requirement. Information from Form 1095-C will also be used in determining whether an individual is eligible for a premium tax credit.

Form 1094-C contains information about the ALE, and is how an employer identifies as being part of a controlled group. It also has a section labeled "Certifications of Eligibility" and instructs employers to "select all that apply" with four boxes that can be checked. The section is often referred to as the "Line 22" question or boxes. Many employers find this section confusing and are unsure what, if any, boxes they should select. The boxes are labeled:

A. Qualifying Offer Method
B. Reserved
C. Reserved
D. 98% Offer Method

Qualifying Offer Method

The instructions provide the following definition to explain the qualifying offer method.

Check this box if the ALE Member is eligible to use and is using the Qualifying Offer Method to report the information on Form 1095-C for one or more full-time employees. Under the Qualifying Offer Method there is an alternative method of completing Form 1095-C and an alternative method for furnishing Form 1095-C to certain employees. If the ALE Member is using either of these alternative rules, check this box. To be eligible to use the Qualifying Offer Method, the ALE Member must certify that it made a Qualifying Offer to one or more of its full-time employees for all months during the year in which the employee was a full-time employee for whom an employer shared responsibility payment could apply. Additional requirements described below must be met to be eligible to use the alternative method for furnishing Form 1095-C to employees under the Qualifying Offer Method.

This means that, if an employer used code 1A for any employee on Line 14 of its 1095-C form, the employer should check Box A. Code 1A is only used by employers who offered minimum value, minimum essential coverage to a full-time employee, and the coverage meets the federal poverty level safe harbor.

It cannot be used for minimum value, minimum essential coverage that meets either the W-2 or rate of pay safe harbor.

98% Offer Method

An employer meets the requirements of the 98% Offer Method if it offers affordable, minimum value coverage to at least 98 percent of its total employees for whom it is filing a Form 1095-C (regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time). This means that the employer does not need to report whether an employee is full time and it does not need to provide a count of its full-time employees. If the employer meets the requirements of the 98% Offer Method, it should check Box D.

However, the employer will still need to provide Form 1095-C to each of its employees, which includes all of the other information required, and if an employee requests a premium tax credit, it will need to respond to an IRS inquiry about the employee's work and coverage status. Employers that anticipate difficulties reporting full-time employees (excluding those in waiting periods) may find this option helpful.

If an employer selects Box D, it does not need to complete Part III Column (b) of the 1094-C.

The IRS provides the following example for the 98% offer method:

Employer has 325 employees. Of those 325 employees, Employer identifies 25 employees as not possibly being full-time employees because they are scheduled to work 10 hours per week and are not eligible for additional hours. Of the remaining 300 employees, 295 are offered affordable minimum value coverage for all periods during which they are employed other than any applicable waiting period (which qualifies as a Limited Non-Assessment Period). Employer files a Form 1095-C for each of the 300 employees (excluding the 25 employees that it identified as not possibly being full-time employees). Employer may use the 98% Offer Method because it makes an affordable offer of coverage that provides minimum value to at least 98% of the employees for whom Employer files a Form 1095-C. Using this method, Employer does not identify whether each of the 300 employees is a full-time employee. However, Employer must still file a Form 1095-C for all of its full-time employees. Employer chooses to file a Form 1095-C on behalf of all 300 employees, including the five employees to whom it did not offer coverage, because if one or more of those employees was, in fact, a full-time employee for one or more months of the calendar year, Employer would be required to have filed a Form 1095-C on behalf of those employees.

Reserved Code B (formerly, Qualifying Offer Method Transition Relief)

This box is not applicable in 2017. In 2015, the instructions provided the following definition to explain the qualifying offer method transition relief.

Check this box if the employer is eligible for and is using the Qualifying Offer Method Transition Relief for the 2015 calendar year to report information on Form 1095-C for one or more full-time employees. To be eligible to use the Qualifying Offer Method Transition Relief, the employer must certify that it made a Qualifying Offer for one or more months of calendar year 2015 to at least 95% of its full-time employees. For this purpose, an employee in a Limited Non-Assessment Period is not included in the 95% calculation.

This transition relief has expired, and is no longer available to employers regardless of size or their plan years. No employer should select Box B, which is now reserved for future use.

Reserved Code C (formerly Section 4980H Transition Relief)

This box is not applicable in 2017. In 2015 and 2016, Box C was used to inform the government that an employer is entitled to one of two forms of transition relieffor its 2015 plan year:

1.     Midsize Employer Transition Relief (only available to employers with 50 to 99 employees who meet the maintenance requirements of transition relief)

2.     Relief when Calculating Assessable Penalties (only available to employers with 100 or more employees)

Conclusion

Different real-world situations will lead an employer to select any combination of boxes on Line 22, including leaving all four boxes blank. Practically speaking, only employers who met the requirements of using code 1A on Form 1095-C or who offered coverage to virtually all employees will check any of the boxes on Line 22. Notably, employers who do not use the federal poverty level safe harbor for affordability will never select Box A, and corresponding with that, will never use codes 1A or 1I on Line 14 of a Form 1095-C.


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Compliance Recap - December 2017

December was a relatively busy month in the employee benefits world.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) delayed the reporting deadlines in 2018 for the 1095-B and 1095-C forms to individuals. President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance on accommodation revocation notices.

A U.S. District Court vacated U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wellness rules effective January 1, 2019. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issued Frequently Asked Questions to address employers’ duties regarding medical support notices.

The IRS released Form 8941 instructions regarding credit for small employer health insurance premiums and Form W-2 reporting guidance for Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSEHRAs).

UBA Updates

UBA updated existing guidance: Contraception Mandate Rolled Back for Employers

IRS Extends 2018 Deadlines for 1095-B and 1095-C Forms to Individuals

On December 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-06, delaying the reporting deadlines in 2018 for the 1095-B and 1095-C forms to individuals. The 1095-B form is now due to the individual identified as the “responsible individual” on the form by March 2, 2018. The 1095-C form is now due to employees by March 2, 2018.

There is no delay for the 1094-C and 1094-B forms, or for forms due to the IRS.

Read more about the IRS Notice.

President Trump Signs Tax Bill

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Act) that, among other items, eliminates the individual mandate penalty under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Act reduces the penalty associated with the individual shared responsibility provision to zero, effective in 2019.

Per the Congressional Research Service’s summary, the bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to reduce tax rates and modify policies, credits, and deductions for individuals and businesses.

For businesses, the bill:

  • Reduces the corporate tax rate from a maximum of 35 percent to a flat 20 percent rate (25 percent for personal services corporations).
  • Allows increased expensing of the costs of certain property.
  • Limits the deductibility of net interest expenses to 30 percent of the business's adjusted taxable income.
  • Repeals the work opportunity tax credit.
  • Terminates the exclusion for interest on private activity bonds.
  • Modifies or repeals various energy-related deductions and credits.
  • Modifies the taxation of foreign income.
  • Imposes an excise tax on certain payments from domestic corporations to related foreign corporations.

The bill also repeals or modifies several additional credits and deductions for individuals and businesses.

In particular, the Act eliminates the business deduction for qualified mass transit and parking benefits starting in 2018, and eliminates the exclusion for bicycle commuting expenses for tax years 2018 through 2025. These benefits (except for bicycle commuting) will continue to be tax-exempt to employees. For 2018, employees can contribute up to a maximum of $260 per month for both qualified mass transit and parking expenses through an employer-sponsored qualified transportation plan under Section 132(f).

The Act’s elimination of the business deduction for qualified mass transit and parking benefits means that employers will be taxed on the value of providing qualified transportation fringe benefits.

CMS Releases Guidance on Accommodation Revocation Notices

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering non-grandfathered group or individual health insurance coverage provide coverage of certain specified preventive services without cost sharing. Under the ACA and interim final regulations, objecting entities could use an accommodation process as part of the exemption from the ACA’s requirement to provide contraceptive coverage.

If an entity wants to revoke the accommodation, then the regulations require that written notification be given to participants and beneficiaries. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance on the two methods that can be used to provide accommodation revocation notices.

Read more about CMS’ guidance.

U.S. District Court Vacates EEOC Wellness Rules Effective January 1, 2019

On August 22, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to adopt 30 percent incentive levels for employer-sponsored wellness programs under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) rules.

At that time, the court declined to vacate the EEOC’s rules because of the significant disruptive effect it would have. However, the court remanded the rules to the EEOC for reconsideration.

In September 2017, the EEOC filed a status report indicating its schedule to comply with the court order, including issuing a proposed rule by August 2018 and a final rule by October 2019. It stated that it did not expect to require employers to comply with a new rule before 2021.

The court found the EEOC’s process of not generating applicable rules until 2021 to be unacceptable. Instead, the court determined that one year was ample time for employers to adjust to new EEOC rules. The court vacated the EEOC rule effective January 1, 2019, and ordered the EEOC to promulgate any new proposed rules by August 31, 2018.

OCSE Issues FAQs Regarding Employers’ Duties Regarding Medical Support Notices

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issued its “Medical Support – Answers to Employers’ Questions” FAQs, which instruct employers and plan administrators how to complete Parts A and B of the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN). The FAQs also provide, among other items, the following guidance:

  • When a plan receives a request for information by a child support agency that issued an NMSN, the plan administrator is permitted to disclose protected health information in response to the NMSN under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
  • Even if a recently terminated employee has elected self-only COBRA continuation coverage, a plan should enforce the NMSN to cover the child of that former employee. If the plan is subject to COBRA and if the child loses coverage due to a qualifying event, then the child is a qualified beneficiary with the right to elect COBRA continuation coverage.
  • A plan administrator may take all necessary steps to enroll the child named in the NMSN if coverage is available and the premiums can be deducted with the limits of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). Such steps may include changing an employee’s coverage to a different option, even if it affects the employee’s premiums.

IRS Releases Form 8941 Instructions: Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its instructions for Form 8941 which eligible small employers use to figure the credit for health insurance premiums for tax years beginning after 2009. For tax years beginning after 2013, the credit is only available for period of two consecutive tax years. Generally, the maximum credit is a percentage of premiums that the employer has paid during the tax year for health insurance coverage that the employer provided to certain employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

IRS Releases Form W-2 Reporting Guidance for QSEHRAs

The IRS released its Form 8962 with instructions. Form 8962 is used by individual taxpayers to calculate and report a premium tax credit. The instructions provide a reminder to employers who provided a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) to their eligible employees. For each employee covered under its QSEHRA, the employer should report the annual permitted benefit by indicating Code FF in Box 12 of the employee’s Form W-2.

Question of the Month

What code should an employer use for Form 1095-C Line 14 if:

  • the employer offers minimum essential coverage (MEC) providing minimum value (MV) to a full-time employee that is affordable (using the Federal Poverty Level safe harbor for affordability) and
  • the employer offers at least MEC to the employee’s spouse and dependents?

Does the code change if the employee declines coverage because the employee is covered by the spouse’s group health plan?

The employer should use Code 1A in Line 14. The code doesn’t change if the employee waives coverage.

 

Download the PDF

 


Compliance Bulletin: 2018 Minimum Wage Rates

The current federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour. However, many states have adopted minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate. When the state rate and the federal rate are different, employers must pay their employees the higher rate.

Affected employers should review their employees’ pay rates and update their minimum wage poster notices as necessary to ensure compliance with local wage and hour regulations.

Download the following PDF for helpful charts and tables with wage rate information by state.

 


With Below Average Cost, Increasing Enrollment, CDHPs Have Big Impact

According to the UBA Health Plan Survey, enrollment in CDHPs continues to grow in most regions. Receive information like this but customized to your business by taking our Benchmark Survey.


When most experts think of group healthcare plans, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans largely come to mind—though higher cost, they dominate the market in terms of plan distribution and employee enrollment. But Consumer-Directed Health Plans (CDHPs) have made surprising gains. Despite slight cost increases, CDHP costs are still below average and prevalence and enrollment in these plans continues to grow in most regions—a main reason why it was one of the top 7 survey trends recently announced.

In 2017, 28.6% of all plans are CDHPs. Regionally, CDHPs account for the following percentage of plans offered:

Prevalence of CDHP Plans

CDHPs have increased in prevalence in all regions except the West. The North Central U.S. saw the greatest increase (13.2%) in the number of CDHPs offered. Looking at size and industry variables, several groups are flocking to CDHPs:

Regional offering of CDHPs

When it comes to enrollment, 31.5% of employees enroll in CDHP plans overall, an increase of 19.3% from 2016, after last year’s stunning increase of 21.7% from 2015. CDHPs see the most enrollment in the North Central U.S. at 46.3%, an increase of 40.7% over 2016. For yet another year in the Northeast, CDHP prevalence and enrollment are nearly equal; CDHP prevalence doesn’t always directly correlate to the number of employees who choose to enroll in them. Though the West held steady in the number of CDHPs offered, there was a 2.6% decrease in the number of employees enrolled. The 12.6% increase in CDHP prevalence in the North Central U.S. garnered a large 40.7% increase in enrollment. CDHP interest among employers isn’t surprising given these plans are less costly than the average plan. But like all cost benchmarks, plan design plays a major part in understanding value. The UBA survey finds the average CDHP benefits are as follows:

CDHP benefits

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Olson B. (7 December 2017). "With Below Average Cost, Increasing Enrollment, CDHPs Have Big Impact" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/with-below-average-cost-increasing-enrollment-cdhps-have-big-impact

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UBA Survey: Weary Families Get a Break While Singles See Out-of-Pocket Cost Increases

Below, our partner, UBA Benefits, has provided some insight from their 2017 Health Plan Survey. If you are an employer seeking customized results from the survey, we can help you. Please visit our survey page here.


While the rate impact of the regulatory environment plays out, one thing is clear from the 2017 UBA Health Plan Survey: employers continue to shift a greater share of expenses to employees through out-of-pocket cost increases. While this is just one of 7 mega trends uncovered in the survey, it is particularly interesting this year because singles were hit more heavily than families as compared to years past.

While average annual total costs per employee increased from $9,727 to $9,934, employees’ share of total costs rose 5%, from $3,378 to $3,550, while employers’ share rose less than 1%, from $6,350 to $6,401. The good news for employees is that, for a second year in a row, median in-network deductibles for singles and families held steady at $2,000 and $4,000, respectively. Similarly, some out-of-network deductibles remained unchanged, with families’ median out-of-network deductible remaining at $8,000 in 2017. Conversely, singles, who had been holding steady in 2014 and 2015 at a $3,000 median out-of-network deductible, saw a 13.3% increase to $3,400 in 2016, and another jump in 2017 to $4,000. Since deductible increases help employers avoid premium increases, we will likely see this trend continue, especially as insurance carriers are required to meet the ACA metal levels.

Both singles and families also are seeing continued increases in median in-network out-of-pocket maximums, up to $5,000 and $10,000, respectively. Families bore the brunt of the increase in median out-of-network out-of-pocket maximums between 2014 and 2016, going from $16,000 in 2014 to $18,000 in 2015, to $20,000 in 2016, but then holding steady at $20,000 in 2017. The maximum for singles, which had remained steady at $9,000 in 2015 and 2016, increased in 2017 to $10,000.

Interestingly, out-of-network expenses are not subject to ACA limitations, so it was theorized that they’d likely continue to skyrocket with more plans eliminating out-of-pocket maximums for non-network services. Perhaps to offset that, more employers adopted plans with no deductible for out-of-network services, while employees saw a massive decrease in the number of employers offering no deductible for in-network services. Looking at deductibles and out-of-pocket costs just among the ever-dominant PPO plans, in-network and out-of-network deductibles for families and singles are generally below average. However, the median in-network single deductible for PPO plans has held steady at $1,500 in 2016 and 2017, along with the family deductible at $3,000. The increases were seen in the out-of-pocket maximums, which rose in 2017 to $4,500 for single (up from $4,000 in 2016), and to $10,000 for family coverage (up $1,000 from $9,000 in 2016).

Read the original article here.

Source:
Olson B. (21 November 2017). "UBA Survey: Weary Families Get a Break While Singles See Out-of-Pocket Cost Increases" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/uba-survey-weary-families-get-a-break-while-singles-see-out-of-pocket-cost-increases


OSHA Delays Electronic Reporting to Dec. 15, 2017

OVERVIEW

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) electronic reporting rule requires certain establishments to report information electronically from their OSHA Forms 300, 300A and 301. Under the rule, the first electronic reports were due on July 1, 2017.

However, on Nov. 24, 2017, OSHA issued a new final rule officially delaying the first electronic reporting deadline to Dec. 15, 2017. Affected establishments will need to submit their reports through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) website by that time or face possible OSHA penalties.

ACTION STEPS

  • Affected establishments must create an account on the ITA website and submit information from their 2016 OSHA 300A form by December 15, 2017.
  • Other deadlines under the electronic reporting rule remain unaltered. Therefore, affected establishments should begin their preparations to submit information from all 2017 OSHA forms by July 1, 2018.

OSHA’s electronic reporting rule affects establishments that:

  • Are already required to create and maintain OSHA injury and illness records and have 250 or more employees;
  • Have between 20 and 249 employees and belong to a high-risk industry; and
  • Receive a specific request from OSHA to create, maintain and submit electronic records, even if they would otherwise be exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements.

The electronic reporting rule applies to establishments, not employers. An employer may have several worksites or establishments. In these situations, some establishments may be affected while others are not.

To determine whether an establishment is affected, employers must determine each establishment’s peak employment during the calendar year. During this determination, employers must count every individual that worked at that establishment, regardless of whether he or she worked full-time, part-time, or was a temporary or seasonal worker.

Finally, a firm with more than one establishment may submit establishment-specific data for multiple establishments.

Reporting Requirements


The data an employer must submit and the timeline for submitting this information to OSHA depends on the establishment size.

Establishments with 250 or more employees will be required to submit information from their OSHA Forms 300A, 300 and 301. However, in 2017, these establishments will only be required to submit data from their 300A Form. Establishments in high-risk industries with between 20 and 249 employees will be required to submit information only from their OSHA Form 300A.

For the first reporting year, the deadline has been delayed to Dec. 15, 2017. However, the final rule that delayed the first deadline did not alter subsequent deadlines, so reporting deadlines for 2018, 2019 and beyond remain as shown in the table above.

Submitting the Report

The ITA is a secure website that OSHA created specifically for the data required by the electronic reporting rule. The ITA allows employers three options to submit their reports:

  1. Manual entry;
  2. Comma-separated value (CSV) file upload; and
  3. Application programming interface (API) transmission.

The ITA offers affected establishment instructions and sample files and templates to help them complete the submission process.

OSHA-approved State Plans

The final rule required OSHA-approved State Plans to adopt the electronic rule or “substantially identical” requirements within six months of the final rule’s publication date. The final rule was published on May 12, 2016. This means that OSHA-approved State Plans have the authority to adopt reporting requirements that go above and beyond what is required by the federal rule. For this reason, establishments located in OSHA-approved State Plan jurisdictions should consult with their local OSHA offices to make sure they are satisfying all electronic reporting requirements.

However, the following OSHA-approved State Plans have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically:

Similarly, state and local government establishments in IL, ME, NJ and NY are not currently required to submit their data through the reporting website.

More Information

Contact Hierl Insurance Inc. or visit the OSHA tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses webpage for more information regarding electronic reporting.

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Latest IRS ACA Round Up (Including 2018 Cost-of-Living Adjustments)

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the instructions for Forms 1094/1095 for the 2017 tax year, announced PCORI fees for 2017-18, and announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2018. The IRS provided additional guidance on leave-based donation programs' tax treatment and released an information letter on COBRA and Medicare. Here’s a recap of these actions for your reference.IRS Announces Cost-of-Living Adjustments for 2018

The IRS released Revenue Procedures 2017-58 and Notice 2017-64 to announce cost-of-living adjustments for 2018. For example, the dollar limit on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) is $2,650, for taxable years beginning with 2018.

Request UBA’s 2018 desk reference card with an at-a glance summary of the various limits.

IRS Announces PCORI Fee for 2017-18

The IRS announced the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee for 2017-18. The fee is $1.00 per covered life in the first year the fee is in effect. The fee is $2.00 per covered life in the second year. In the third through seventh years, the fee is $2.00, adjusted for medical inflation, per covered life.

For plan years that end on or after October 1, 2016, and before October 1, 2017, the indexed fee is $2.26. For plan years that end on or after October 1, 2017, and before October 1, 2018, the indexed fee is $2.39.

For more information, view UBA’s FAQ on the PCORI Fee.

IRS Provides Additional Guidance on Leave-Based Donation Programs' Tax Treatment

Last month, the IRS provided guidance for employers who adopt leave-based donation programs to provide charitable relief for victims of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irma. This month, the IRS issued Notice 2017-62 which extends the guidance to employers' programs adopted for the relief of victims of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Maria.

These leave-based donation programs allow employees to forgo vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for cash payments that the employer will make to charitable organizations described under Internal Revenue Code Section 170(c).

The employer's cash payments will not constitute gross income or wages of the employees if paid before January 1, 2019, to the Section 170(c) charitable organizations for the relief of victims of Hurricane or Tropical Storm Maria. Employers do not need to include these payments in Box 1, 3, or 5 of an employee's Form W-2.

IRS Releases Information Letter on COBRA and Medicare

The IRS released Information Letter 2017-0022 that explains that a covered employee's spouse can receive COBRA continuation coverage for up to 36 months if the employee became entitled to Medicare benefits before employment termination. In this case, the spouse's maximum COBRA continuation period ends the later of: 36 months after the employee's Medicare entitlement, or 18 months (or 29 months if there is a disability extension) after the employment termination.

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:

Capilla D. (16 November 2017). "Latest IRS ACA Round Up (Including 2018 Cost-of-Living Adjustments)" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/latest-irs-aca-round-up-including-2018-cost-of-living-adjustments


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Compliance Overview: Electronic Logging Devices

In this month's compliance overview, we're going to take a look at the final rule on electronic logging devices for commercial motor vehicles.


On Dec. 16, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) published a final rule for electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The final rule prohibits certain drivers from operating a CMV without an ELD.

The final rule also includes requirements regarding supporting documentation for hours-of-service (HOS) records and measures to prevent driver harassment that could result from the mandatory use of ELDs.

The FMCSA has released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to provide plain language information regarding the ELD rule. This Compliance Bulletin contains the FAQs provided by the FMCSA.

Get the Full Compliance Overview


Trump picks former Lilly drug executive as health secretary

We're sure you've seen it trending. Here is the latest on President Trump's new hire, Alex Azar of Eli Lilly & Co - the U.S.A.'s new head of the Department of Health and Human Services.


(Bloomberg) – President Donald Trump named former Eli Lilly & Co. executive Alex Azar to lead the Department of Health and Human Services after agency’s past chief resigned amid blowback over his taxpayer-funded private jet travel.

“Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary. He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!” Trump tweeted Monday.

If confirmed, Azar will take over the administration’s management of the Affordable Care Act. Trump and Congressional Republicans have called to repeal the health law, and the administration has taken steps to destabilize it, such as cutting funding for some programs and refusing to pay subsidies to health insurers. He’ll also be a key figure on drug costs.

Bloomberg/file photo

Trump has been highly critical of the drug industry, saying that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder” and threatening to use the federal government’s buying power to bring down prices.

Drug Costs

However he’s taken no concrete action yet to do much on prices, and the former drug executive’s appointment may continue the trend of strong talk but little action, said Spencer Perlman, director of health-care research at Veda Partners, a policy analysis firm.

“It is very unlikely the administration will take aggressive regulatory actions to control prescription drug prices,” Perlman said in a note to clients Monday. “The administration’s tepid response to drug pricing has not matched the president’s heated rhetoric.”

Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a consulting firm, also didn’t think Azar represented a change in direction on pharmaceutical policy. “His appointment will not change the president’s rhetoric,” Mendelson said in a phone interview.

Before his time at Lilly, Azar served as deputy secretary at HHS under President George W. Bush. One former Obama administration official said that experience could help him at the agency.

“While we certainly differ in a number of important policy areas, I have reason to hope he would make a good HHS secretary,” said Andy Slavitt, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the last administration and who has been a frequent critic of efforts to derail Obamacare. Slavitt said he hoped Azar would “avoid repeating this mistakes of his predecessor over-politicizing Americans’ access to health care.”

Running Obamacare

Azar, who ran Indianapolis-based Lilly’s U.S. operations until earlier this year, has been an advocate for more state flexibility under Obamacare. That matches up with what Republicans have pushed for, such as in a seemingly stalled bipartisan bill to fund insurer subsidies that help lower-income people with health costs.

As secretary, Azar would have broad authority over the program.

“I’m not one to say many good things about Obamacare, but one of the nice things in it is it does give a tremendous amount authority to the secretary,” Azar said during an interview with Bloomberg TV in June. “There are still changes that can be made to make it work a little better than it has been.”

There are signs that the law is gaining popular support despite the repeal efforts. In recent state elections in Virginia, Democrats won a competitive governors race that saw health care emerge as a top issue. In Maine, residents voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Early enrollment in Obamacare plans earlier this month was also up considerably compared to last year.

Trump’s first HHS secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September after his extensive use of private and military jets at taxpayer expense was revealed. Azar must be approved by the Senate.

Senate Confirmation

Senator Orrin Hatch, who heads the Senate Finance Committee that will review Azar’s nomination, called on Trump’s pick to help “right the wrongs of this deeply flawed law.”

“For too long, hardworking, middle-class families have been forced to bear the brunt of Obamacare’s failures in the form of higher premiums and fewer choices,” Hatch said in a statement.

Ron Wyden, the senior Democrat on the panel, said he would closely scrutinize Azar’s record.

“At every turn, the president has broken his promises to American families to lower health care costs, expand access, and bring down the high price of prescription drugs,” Wyden said in a statement.

Azar left Lilly in January, several months after another senior executive was named to succeed then-CEO John Lechleiter. A lawyer by training, Azar previously clerked for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

You can read the original article here.

Source:

Employee Benefit Advisors (13 November 2017). "Trump picks former Lilly drug executive as health secretary" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/articles/trump-picks-former-lilly-drug-executive-as-health-secretary?tag=00000151-16d0-def7-a1db-97f024b50000

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