Second Shoe of ACA Business Penalties Drops

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in late 2017 began issuing its first wave of Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalties to companies that failed to provide minimum essential health coverage to at least 70 percent of their employees in 2015.

IRS-sends-out-Obamacare-tax-penalty-noticesNow, the IRS is issuing a new round of penalties for companies that provided coverage but had at least one employee who qualified for a premium tax credit (PTC) because the policy was either not affordable or failed to offer minimum coverage.

The ACA took effect in 2014, but the Obama administration waived penalties on applicable large employers (ALEs) that year, and followed up in 2015 by reducing the coverage requirement to 70 percent of the workforce from the 95 percent written into the ACA’s Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) provision.

As of June, the IRS had issued more than 30,000 claims totaling some $4.3 billion in penalties, along with an upcoming penalty notification onslaught for 2016 and beyond.

(more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

Constitutionality of ACA Goes on Trial Today

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor will hear arguments in Texas beginning today in a case brought by 20 “red” states over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), whose result could have far-reaching consequences in the upcoming national elections and beyond.

obamacare-constitutionality-on-trial-in-texas

Even as Obamacare open enrollment draws near on Nov. 1, a federal judge in Texas is weighing the law’s very constitutionality

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who last week won another ACA case in Texas, is leading the charge, contending the ACA is no longer constitutional after the “tax” associated with the law’s individual mandate was stripped away by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. Without that tax, Paxton and the other attorneys general argue, the 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court upholding the ACA — based on the mandate’s being a tax — is no longer valid.

First order of business in the Fort Worth courtroom today will be Paxton’s argument that the ACA should be temporarily put on hold while the issue is litigated.

Several “blue” state attorneys general will argue against both that request and the overall argument that the law is now unconstitutional. In April, California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra announced he would be leading a coalition of 16 state attorneys general to defend the ACA, and he plans on being in the courtroom.

Setting aside the ACA while the case proceeds “would throw the entire [health] system into chaos,” Becerra said last week. That’s because the ACA made major changes not just to the insurance market for individuals, but also to Medicare, Medicaid and the employer insurance market.

Most interestingly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew from the case in May but filed a brief arguing that only the individual mandate and the provision barring discrimination based on pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional — and that the rest of the law should stand.

(more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

September Is Peak Lawsuit Filing Month for EEOC

Watch Personnel Concepts’ video on Workplace Harassment Investigations.

As the federal fiscal year approaches its end each September, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) traditionally files its largest aggregate of lawsuits for the year. In September 2017, for instance, the EEOC filed 88 lawsuits.

eeoc-position-on-physical-testingThis fiscal year, the commission through the end of August had filed some 112 lawsuits, whereas in the previous year the total had not topped 100. So, as the law firm Seyfarth Shaw notes, far from scaling back on legal actions under the Trump administration, the commission has accelerated its activity.

Interestingly, the EEOC has filed at least 22 sexual harassment lawsuits in this era of the #MeToo movement. The commission in general seems focused on litigating instances of workplace harassment.

As we noted here recently, the commission in August filed seven harassment lawsuits across the country, involving firms as large as United Airlines and Piggly Wiggly.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

After 10-Year Decline, Employers Offering Health Insurance on the Rise

Snapping a decline that began in 2008, employers are more and more offering health insurance to their employers, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

new-jersey-adopts-individual-mandateIn 2017, nearly 47 percent of employers offered health insurance, rising from 45.3 percent the year before. In 2008, the percentage before the long decline stood at 56.4.

The increase was fairly consistent among companies of all sizes. Even companies with fewer than 10 employers saw a yearly increase in 2017 from 21.7 to 23.5 percent.

The percentage of employers with between 100-999 employees that offer health coverage jumped from 92.5 to 96.3 percent between 2014 and 2016. Meanwhile, the percentage of employers with more than 1,000 employees offering health coverage fell slightly, to 99.3 from 99.8.

According to the Institute: “The increase in availability of employer-based insurance is likely due to the strong economy and the nation’s low unemployment rate.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

The First Labor Day: Pride, Chaos and Kegs

On the morning of Sept. 5, 1882, a crowd of spectators filled the sidewalks of lower Manhattan near city hall and along Broadway. They had come early, well before the Labor Day parade marchers, to claim the best vantage points from which to view the first Labor Day parade. A newspaper account of the day described “men on horseback, men wearing regalia, men with society aprons, and men with flags, musical instruments, badges, and all the other paraphernalia of a procession.”

first-labor-day-paradeThe police, wary that a riot would break out, were out in force that morning as well. By 9 a.m., columns of police and club-wielding officers on horseback surrounded city hall.

By 10 a.m., the Grand Marshall of the parade, William McCabe, his aides and their police escort were all in place for the start of the parade. There was only one problem: none of the men had moved. The few marchers that had shown up had no music.

According to McCabe, the spectators began to suggest that he give up the idea of parading, but he was determined to start on time with the few marchers that had shown up. Suddenly, Mathew Maguire of the Central Labor Union of New York (and probably the father of Labor Day) ran across the lawn and told McCabe that two hundred marchers from the Jewelers Union of Newark Two had just crossed the ferry — and they had a band!

(more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

States Win Big Refunds over Obamacare Tax for Medicaid

A federal judge in North Texas has handed a group of states hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds from an Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) program known as the Health Insurance Providers Fee, which collects Medicaid taxes from the states to help fund Obamacare. A federal appeal is almost a certainty.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

The 2015 lawsuit was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said after the ruling: “Obamacare is unconstitutional, plain and simple. We all know that the feds cannot tax the state, and we’re proud to return this illegally collected money to the people of Texas.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, whose state was part of the lawsuit, called the program “a money laundering scheme foiled.”

Under terms of the court decision, Texas would receive $304.7 million. Other states due to get payouts are Louisiana ($172.5 million), Kansas ($142.1 million), Indiana ($94.8 million), Wisconsin ($88.9 million) and Nebraska ($36.2 million), according to the Texas attorney general’s office.

(more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

FMLA Forms Now Good Through 2021

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the reissuing of all Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms with a new expiration date of Aug. 31, 2021. The previous forms had expired on May 31 due to the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires all government forms to be reviewed, re-approved and reissued (or not) after three years.

tax-act-includes-credit-for-paid-PMLA-leaveThe Department of Labor (DOL) had previously been re-dating the expired forms; the last such revision had an expiration date of Aug. 31, 2018.

The new forms are basically the same as the expiring forms but should be used henceforth. Use of the forms is not mandatory, but the information required on the forms should be completed and retained in some format to show good faith compliance with the FMLA.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

Labor Department Launches Apprenticeship.gov

The Department of Labor (DOL) today announced the launch of a new digital platform, Apprenticeship.gov, featuring an Apprenticeship Finder tool that offers career seekers a platform to search for apprenticeships by city, state and occupation, as well as connects job seekers to high-skilled, high-paying careers.

apprenticeship.gov-website-launchedThe Apprenticeship Finder, a no-cost tool for both employers and career seekers, is addressing a need shared by employers who are looking to promote their apprenticeship opportunities and career seekers searching to access them. The new Apprenticeship Finder tool will not only make it easier for career seekers to find apprenticeship opportunities, but it will also help employers promote apprenticeships across new or nontraditional industries where apprenticeships may be less common. (more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

CMS to Reimburse New York, Minnesota for Health Care Expenses

New York and Minnesota, the only two states to establish Basic Health Programs (BHPs) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will now receive promised federal funding after suing the Trump administration.

cms-to-pay-two-states-for-health-expensesBasic Health Programs are state-operated insurance providers for residents earning between 138 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level — the population earning slightly too much to be eligible for Medicaid.

Under terms of section 1331 of the ACA, the federal government is on the hook for funding basically 95 percent of these programs, based on a formula combining subsidies the insured would have received as well as the Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) funds that would have gone to an insurance company.

(more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

DOL Launches Office of Compliance Initiatives

The Department of Labor (DOL) has launched what it’s calling the Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI). Coordinated by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, this cross-agency effort aims to complement the department’s enforcement activities by strengthening and innovating compliance assistance outreach, according to the agency.

Part of this initiative is the launch of worker.gov and employer.gov, two websites with resources to assess compliance with the law.

Labor Secretary Acosta speaking in West Virginia earlier this year

OCI will promote greater understanding of federal labor laws and regulations, allowing job creators to prevent violations and protect Americans’ wages, workplace safety and health, retirement security, and other rights and benefits, according to the announcement of its opening. As part of its work, OCI will work with the enforcement agencies to refine their metrics to ensure the efficacy of the department’s compliance assistance activities.

“President Trump’s Administration is committed to protecting the American worker. Vigorous enforcement and compliance assistance go hand in hand,” said Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. “The Office of Compliance Initiatives expands our efforts to promote full compliance with federal labor law.”

(more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top