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Straight From The Source Blog by Higginbotham Insurance


May HR News Worth Review

May 16 , 2019

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President Announces Plan to Combat Surprise Medical Billing, HHS Moves for More Drug Pricing Transparency

On May 9, 2019, President Donald Trump delivered a speech criticizing the practice of surprise medical billing. He announced a general plan of attack and hinted at a few specifics for curbing the trend.

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Tags: Compliance


April HR News Worth Review

April 08 , 2019

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Federal Court Strikes Down Association Health Plan Rules; 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 Fifth 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 judgment in the case. As a result, the ACA will remain in place pending appeal. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also confirmed that it will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA.

Then, on March 28, 2019, a federal district court invalidated key parts of the Trump administration’s 2018 final rule on association health plans (AHPs). The court directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to consider how the remaining provisions of the final rule are affected by its decision.

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 final rule:

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Tags: Compliance


March HR News Worth Review

March 20 , 2019

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DOL Issues New Proposal on Overtime Rule

On March 7, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule that would change the salary thresholds for the “white collar” overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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Tags: Compliance


February HR News Worth Review

February 20 , 2019

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Medicare Part D Disclosures due March 1 for Calendar Year Plans

Group health plan sponsors are required to complete an online disclosure form with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on an annual basis and at other select times to indicate whether the plan's prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable. This disclosure requirement applies when an employer-sponsored group health plan provides prescription drug coverage to individuals who are eligible for coverage under Medicare Part D.

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Tags: Compliance


January HR News Worth Review

January 17 , 2019

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Top Four HR Trends to Monitor in 2019

1. Opioids, Marijuana and the Workplace
Beyond their deadly risks, opioids also cause absenteeism and performance issues in the workplace. Opioids are difficult to detect in a drug test and even harder to perceive without one. Knowing this, it's critical to modernize your drug policy to address opioids and offer resources for alternative pain management strategies. Legal marijuana is also complicating drug policies. Similar to opioids, marijuana is increasingly difficult to detect, with the growing popularity of oils and edibles. Moreover, the drug is legal for medical use in 30 states, making testing legally tricky. You may find it easiest to adjust your drug policy to focus on workplace performance. Adopting a zero-tolerance policy may backfire with state laws, so be sure to have legal counsel review your policy before enforcing it.

2. Leave-related Issues
Multistate businesses must contend with different state laws, but even smaller employers can find themselves juggling laws between localities. Without proper guidance, handling common requests like family leave, sick time and reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act can be a nightmare. The first thing employers must do is determine which leave laws apply to them, remembering that certain localities might have different rules. Other aspects, like which leaves can be used concurrently and proper leave documentation should come next. And, of course, employee communication is a must—not just putting policies in a handbook, but posting leave notices as well.

3. Wage and Hour Concerns
With overtime changes looming in the first quarter of 2019, you may think it’s easier to hire more workers at lower salaries. But, depending on your situation, that may not be true. Many states are primed to raise their respective minimum wages in 2019. What’s more, the majority of those rates are already higher than the federal minimum. If you're considering hiring more workers, check to make sure you know how much you will have to pay them in your state. The same goes for federal contractors. As for salaried employees, it looks like we won't know anything about the overtime rule until at least March 2019. This leaves the current overtime threshold at $23,660. Experts expect that number to increase to between $32,000 and $35,000—far lower than the $47,476 rate initially proposed in 2016.

4. Upskilling Employees
If you have a new task that requires added skills, do you hire a new employee for the job? The current trend says no—you upskill current workers. Upskilling is the process of training current employees in new skills and responsibilities. According to a McKinsey study, 62 percent of executives think automation will require them to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce. Obviously, replacing employees is less cost-effective than offering more skills training, but is it easy? That depends on how you go about it. Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) is making training easier and more personalized for employees. AI can provide real-time feedback, recognize the areas in which employees need help and adapt to individual learning styles. While advanced training software may be pricey, it’s certainly less than the cost of replacing a quarter of your workforce.

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Tags: Compliance


Is the individual mandate dead?

January 09 , 2019

GettyImages-Stethescope PulseAs of 2019, individuals will no longer be charged a penalty for failing to carry health insurance. This has led many to declare the individual mandate dead. Here’s what it means for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and health insurance, and why it might not be quite as dead as some think. 

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Tags: Compliance


Texas Judge Rules ACA Unconstitutional but Law Remains in Effect

December 17 , 2018

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Tags: Compliance


December HR News Worth Review

December 11 , 2018

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Furnishing Deadline Delayed for 2018 ACA Reporting

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has again determined that some employers, insurers and other providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC) need additional time to gather and analyze the information and prepare 2018 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to be furnished to individuals.

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Tags: Compliance


November HR News Worth Review

November 15 , 2018

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DOL Introduces Six New Opinion Letters on FLSA and FMLA Compliance

On Aug. 28, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) introduced six new opinion letters addressing compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These letters address issues such as:

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Tags: Compliance


October HR News Worth Review

October 04 , 2018

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Medicare Part D Notices Due by Oct. 14

The deadline to distribute creditable coverage disclosure notices to Medicare-eligible individuals is only a few weeks away. If you have plan participants eligible for Medicare Part D, you must disclose to those individuals before Oct. 15 each year whether their prescription coverage through your group plan is as comprehensive as the benefits offered under Medicare Part D.

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Tags: Compliance


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