Employee Benefit Guidance & Compliance Solutions

Monthly Newsletter May 2019

Posted by on May 1, 2019 in Newsletters

Dear Valued Clients and Associates,

Happy May!

To all the Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Sisters and Friends who nurture and love the children in their lives, whether they gave birth to them or not, I hope you had a wonderful MOTHER’S DAY!

Please give me a call or contact me now to schedule a time to discuss your employee benefit goals and how we will work hard to ensure you and your employees are satisfied.

Here is your May 2019 Newsletter with a combination of HR and Health related news. I hope you enjoy!

If you would like to make suggestions on how I can improve this newsletter, please email me!



Parts of AHP Final Rule Are Struck Down by Federal Court

On March 28, 2019, a federal judge ruled that parts of the Trump administration’s 2018 final rule on association health plans (AHPs) were invalid. The court directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to reconsider how the remaining provisions of the final rule are affected.

In its ruling, the court stated that the final rule was an “end-run” around the ACA and that the DOL exceeded its authority under ERISA.

The court specifically struck down two parts of the rule:

  • The provision defining “employer” to include associations of disparate employers
  • The provision expanding membership in these associations to include working owners without employees

Employers and business owners without employees that have joined an AHP, or are considering doing so, should review how their plans may be affected by the court’s ruling.



Why One Plant May Be Fueling the Spread of Lyme Disease


According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the United States. Ever heard of a Japanese barberry plant? It’s a small shrub, common in home and commercial landscaping. It is also a non-native invasive species. We actually just removed the one we had in back yard. Acres of it grow wild in the tri-state woods. Deer avoid it. Ticks, however, do not. To read more, click here.



Creative and Compliant Ways to Check References

Make the candidate part of the process.

Reference checking is a necessary evil of the hiring process, but it’s fraught with challenges. There are tactics, however, that HR can use to creatively and compliantly gather meaningful information to help make informed hiring decisions. Read More Here.



DOL’s Newly Proposed Overtime Rule: What’s Included

The DOL recently issued a proposed rule that would change the salary thresholds for the “white collar” overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the proposal, the minimum salary level for executive, administrative and professional employees would increase from $455 to $679 per week ($35,308 per year). This is significantly lower than the $913 salary level set in the 2016 final rule (which never took effect due to an injunction).

The proposal would allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid annually or more frequently to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level. The minimum salary level for highly compensated employees would also increase from $100,000 to $147,414 per year (an increase from the 2016 final rule’s annual threshold of $134,004).

What’s Next?

The proposed rule does not provide for any automatic adjustments to the salary thresholds. Instead, the DOL is asking for public comments on the proposed rule’s language for periodic review to update the salary threshold. Any future update would continue to require notice-and-comment rulemaking.

For more information on the proposed rule, see the DOL’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Overtime Update, which includes a fact sheet and frequently asked questions.



The Long And Winding Road To Mental Healthcare For Your Kid

By Bernard J. Wolfson, Kaiser Health News

A growing mental health crisis among children is exacerbated by a national shortage of child psychiatrists and therapists. It’s either difficult to get, or to afford, an appointment for your child. Here’s some advice that might help.

To read more, click here.



Proposed Overtime Rule May Affect Employee Benefit Plans


A recent Labor Department proposal would increase the salary and compensation levels for minimum wage and overtime exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Besides having a direct impact on payroll, the proposal could indirectly affect some employee benefit plans – including eligibility for certain health benefits.

Comments on the proposal are due May 21. To read more, Click here.



DOJ Supports Federal Court Ruling Invalidating the ACA

On Dec. 14, 2018, a federal judge ruled in Texas v. Azar that the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) is invalid due to the elimination of the individual mandate penalty in 2019. In response, on March 25, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a letter with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreeing with the lower court’s ruling. This means that the DOJ believes the lower court’s ruling should stand, and the ACA should be struck down as unconstitutional.

Following the ruling, however, the federal judge issued a stay and partial final judgement in the case. As a result, the ACA will remain in place pending appeal. The Department of Health and Human Services also confirmed that it will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA.

All briefs and responses in this appeal are due by mid-May 2019, and oral arguments will be scheduled shortly thereafter. Following oral arguments, a decision on the appeal will be issued. However, many industry experts anticipate that the Supreme Court will likely take up the case, which means that a final decision will not be made until that time.

While these appeals are pending, all existing ACA provisions will continue to be applicable and enforced. Employers and individuals must continue to comply with all other applicable ACA requirements. This ruling does not impact the 2019 Exchange enrollment, the ACA’s employer shared responsibility (pay or play) penalties and related reporting requirements, or any other applicable ACA requirement.



Drug Companies Required to Reveal Drug Prices in TV Ads


On Wednesday, HHS announced that it has finalized a new rule requiring all drug manufacturers to include the list prices of their drugs in TV advertisements, potentially paving the way towards drug price transparency and lower drug costs.

To read more, click here.



Drug Industry Patents Go Under Senate Judiciary Committee’s Microscope

By Rachel Bluth; Kaiser Health News

During a hearing Tuesday, panel members focused on how drug companies have used patents to allegedly protect their competitive edge and profits. Click here to read more.



2020 ACA Cost-Sharing Caps Set, Play-or-Pay Penalties Projected


Final ACA rules increase the 2020 out-of-pocket (OOP) in-network limits for nongrandfathered health plans to $8,150 for self-only and $16,300 for other coverage. Employer assessments are projected to rise to $2,570 for not offering coverage and $3,860 for offering coverage that is unaffordable or lacks minimum value.

To read more, click here



Tips for Hiring New Graduates

At colleges across the country, the Class of 2019 is graduating. Thinking of staffing up your business by hiring a new college graduate? Learn some tips on how to prepare these hires for your workplace by watching the video below.

For more hiring best practices, visit our Recruitment & Hiring section.



I am constantly looking for ways to improve this newsletter and suggestions are welcome. Thank you!


Brandi Bowers | Benefits Consultant
PF Compass Employer Guidance & Benefit Solutions

461 Somerset St. North Plainfield NJ 07060
Tel (732) 258-1032


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Source Credits: Copyright © HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved., Keiser Health News , Mercer US Health, ColonialPest.com

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