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Liability Implications Under USERRA

Given the tension that is starting to brew with our new regime and certain foreign governments, it is a good time for a brief overview of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 since it applies to all public and private employers regardless of size.  

Medicare Reporting to CMS Due

Medicare prescription drug coverage is available to all individuals who are enrolled in Medicare. Medicare has special rules that apply to those eligible individuals who have group health plan coverage through their own employer or through a spouse's employer. Group health plans of employers with 20 or more employees must offer these Medicare eligible employees the same health insurance benefits under the same conditions that younger workers and spouses receive.

In other words, an employer cannot discriminate against older employees by assessing higher premiums or excluding certain benefits simply on the basis of them reaching Medicare age.

Phishing Email Disguised as Official HIPAA Audit Communication

It’s a bad enough day when you get a letter from a government agency - it gets worse when you open it and find out you are getting audited. Now, you have to look out for an “audit” letter that is a scam. 

There is a scam email circulating where the email targets employees of HIPAA covered entities and their business associates. It appears to be an official government communication, but it most certainly is not.

ADA Wellness Program Reminder

I wrote a blog article earlier this year disclosing the new notice requirement for employers who operate wellness programs. Specifically, employers subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that offer a wellness program that collects employee health information are reminded that they must provide a new notice to employees as of the first day of the plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2017.  

Ready for New I-9s?

This fall, a revised I-9 form was finally produced by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS has indicated that effective January 22, 2017, employers must begin to use the revised version of Form I-9.

Between now and January 21, 2017, employers have the option to use the revised form or to continue to use the prior version dated March 8, 2013. But again, starting January 22, 2017, the new form must be used for all new hires and re-verifications.

Reminder: Transitional Reinsurance Fee Payment Due

Similar to the past two years, the annual deadline for the 2016 transitional reinsurance fee is fast approaching. The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) transitional reinsurance program was designed to help stabilize premiums in the individual market. I question how much stabilization there has been since individual marketplace premiums seem to be skyrocketing in all states.

A Legal Challenge to the EEOC's Wellness Regulations

AARP, the consumer advocacy group that represents older Americans, filed a lawsuit arguing that the proposed wellness programs violate anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting workers’ medical information. The lawsuit was filed against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for issuing these wellness rules governing what employers can do. This is a particularly stunning course of events since one of the lawyers for the AARP was quoted in an interview as stating “we are virtually always allies with the EEOC.”

HIPAA Notice Reminder

There has been much confusion surrounding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) notices; specifically whether they have to be distributed every year or not. That answer is “no”, but if you are self insured, or fully insured and see protected health information (PHI), you have to make sure they are distributed every third year. As such, most employers do it every year so they do not forget - I agree with that approach.