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2016 Year in Review

In 2016, employers faced many legal and regulatory changes in the health and welfare benefits arena. Highlighted below are some of the most significant health and welfare benefits compliance developments:

  1. IRS issued an alert warning of a new phishing scheme involving W-2s;
  2. EEOC issued final regulations regarding wellness plans under the ADA and GINA as well as a model notice for compliance with the ADA notice requirements;
  3. IRS issued proposed Form 5500 updates and regulations, including a new Schedule J, that will significantly impact small and large employers;
  4. HHS issued final regulations under Section 1557 of the ACA related to coverage of gender transition related services;
  5. DOL issued guidance outlining plan provisions that may serve as “red flags” for potential parity issues under MHPAEA;
  6. OCR released guidance on cloud computing services as they relate to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules;
  7. IRS released the 2016 final 1094-C and 1095-C forms and instructions and granted a 30-day extension for furnishing statements to individuals;
  8. IRS released the 2016 final 1094-B and 1095-B forms and instructions;
  9. OCR announced the launch of Phase 2 HIPAA Audits focused on both covered entitiesand business associates;
  10. DOL released a new SBC template and uniform glossary changes;
  11. HHS, IRS and DOL issued final regulations that generally provide that short-term, limited duration (< 3 months) insurance can be an excepted benefit;
  12. The 21st Century Cures Act was passed which includes provisions for qualified small employer HRAs and calls for agency guidance on health plan disclosures related to MHPAEA;
  13. IRS issued Notice 2016-64 announcing increased PCOR fee for plan years ending on or after 10/1/2016 and before 10/1/2017;
  14. OSHA issued final regulations prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who receive premium tax credits for Exchange coverage or for “whistleblowing” about certain ACA violations;
  15. IRS Notices 2016-55 and 2016-69 granted tax relief for employees that elect to forego leave (sick, personal, vacation) in exchange for employer donations to eligible relief organizations before 1/1/2018 (Louisiana storms and Hurricane Matthew);
  16. IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2016-55 increasing the FSA salary reduction limit to $2600 for the 2017 plan year; and
  17. IRS issued numerous letters regarding COBRA disability extension, HSA contributions and cafeteria plan administration aimed at affirming existing rules.

The potential for increasing change and uncertainty looms as the new administration has repeatedly promised a full repeal of the ACA. Until such time, employers must continue their compliance efforts with existing ACA rules and regulations. We will continue to stay abreast of the latest legal and
regulatory changes impacting health and welfare benefit plans and will keep you informed on how and when these changes will impact your organization.
The content herein is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Please contact our office if you have any questions about the health and welfare benefits compliance developments outlined above.

Dated: February 23, 2017