Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Maryland Sick Leave Law Compliance

More stress is being placed on the business community in Maryland through passage of the new Sick Leave Law.  It seems that the general feeling is that lawmakers are in a big push to extend the effective date of the law to allow employers more time to comply.  Below is a link to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce regarding guideline on implementation of the law.  There are notices required to be given to employees and a Model Notice is being developed but not available yet.  Please take a look below at guidance on the law.



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

MD Contraceptive Equity Act and its Impact on 2018 High Deductible Health Plans (HSA)

In 2016, Maryland passed the Contraceptive Equity Act, which requires health care insurers to:

• Provide coverage for a single dispensing of up to a six-month supply for covered, FDA-    approved, prescription contraceptives and devices (after a two-month trial). 
• Provide coverage for over-the-counter emergency contraceptives without a prescription
• Expand access to male sterilization benefits with no out-of-pocket costs. 

The IRS requires that high deductible health plans (HDHP) not cover benefits until the deductible for that year is satisfied. As you know, under current IRS rules for HDHPs, only preventive care benefits can be provided without a deductible. Preventive care includes a variety of screenings and services for adults and children. Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling, as prescribed by a health care provider for women with reproductive capacity also must be covered without a copayment or coinsurance before the deductible is met. Male sterilization is not included in the IRS’ list of preventive services. 

The new Maryland law, effective January 1, 2018, creates a conflict with the IRS rules regarding the treatment of male sterilization as a preventive service. This new law impacts HSA plans sold in Maryland. Members who fund HSA's may be subject to tax penalties when they file their 2018 taxes – regardless of whether they use the covered benefit (male sterilization) or not. Subscribers and members with Grandfathered plans are not impacted. 

The Maryland Insurance Administration is aware of this issue and has asked the IRS for clarification as to whether or not they consider male sterilization to be a preventive benefit for the purposes of IRS regulatory guidance. In the meantime, members who fund an HSA with these plans may be subject to tax penalties if the IRS does not recognize male sterilization as a preventive care benefit. Members can continue to use their previously-funded HSA account to pay for health care services and should consult with a tax professional if they have further questions. 

Excerpt from Carefirst Blue Cross Bliue Shield of Maryland, 12-5-2017

Monday, January 15, 2018

Maryland House votes to override Hogan's veto of paid sick leave bill

Democratic lawmakers in Maryland's House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the paid sick leave law passed last year.

The House voted 88-52 to override the veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. Before the bill can become law, the Senate must also override the veto with a three-fifths majority vote. That vote is expected to take place Friday.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act was a top priority for Democrats last year. The law requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to five days of paid sick leave. Businesses with fewer than 15 employees have to provide five unpaid sick days. A coalition of groups including the National Federal for Independent Businesses and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill.

"We’re sorry to see that the House did not understand the damage HB1 will do to employers and their employees, especially in small businesses," Christine Ross, CEO of the Chamber said in a statement. "We hope to see that understanding from the Senate."

Hogan, a Republican, vetoed the legislation last May. He has described the law as "confusing, unwieldy, unfair and deeply flawed" and said it would destroy Maryland's economy, hurt small businesses and result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

A spokeswoman for Hogan's office called the House's vote a "political exercise" and said, "many legislators have already acknowledged that this bill is deeply flawed and needs to be fixed."

"Fortunately, there is plenty of time to pass the governor’s compromise legislation, including the incentives for small businesses, and create a paid leave policy that provides needed benefits to workers while protecting our job creators," Shareese Churchill, Hogan's press secretary, said in a statement. "Marylanders are more interested in good policy than partisan politics and there is still time to get this right."

Hogan proposed his own paid sick leave law last year, but the legislature never voted on it. He has proposed another one, but if the General Assembly overrides his veto it is unlikely those bill would be considered either.

The vote to override the veto sets the stage for what is shaping up to be a contentious 90 days as Hogan and Democratic lawmakers face off ahead of the gubernatorial election later this year.

During the debate before the vote, Republicans argued that the bill hurts small businesses and is "deeply flawed." Some women from the Republican caucus said the bill would put women who are victims of sexual violence in a position of "revictimizing" themselves because they have to explain to employers why they are taking sick leave.

Del. Dereck Davis, chairman of the Economic Matters Committee, said over the last three years there have been 30 amendments to the bill at the behest of business advocates.

"It's time to fold it guys," Davis said on the House floor. "There have been countless hours of debate. We have met with stakeholders and read hours of testimony...Democracy has to run its course. HB1, time to get it done."

Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Democrat from Baltimore City, said she was a victim of sexual violence at the hands of her ex-husband. She implored her colleagues to support the bill because providing paid sick leave would give women the ability to stay home at work without having to make a tough decision between staying home or going to work and risk being followed by the abuser.

"As a survivor and a victim, it's a very, very tough situation to be in, especially if you are working and trying to take care of your family every day," Glenn said. "Let's give victims an opportunity to take leave here."

The 32BJ SEIU union and the Maryland Working Families Party have been pushing for the law for the past several years. They and other left-leaning organization rallied Thursday morning in front of the State House to support paid sick leave.

"Marylanders are sending the message loud and clear: they need paid sick leave, so they don’t have to decide between their health and financial ruin,” 32BJ SEIU Vice President Jaime Contreras said in a statement. “An overwhelming majority of voters on both sides of the aisle expect leaders to put their health and well-being over politics.” 

Contreras and Maryland Working Families Executive Director Charly Carter both celebrated the House's vote as an important step in helping families across the state

"Today, the Maryland General Assembly voted to put Maryland’s working families first," Carter said in a statement. "We commend their choice to stand up to our out-of-touch governor, and to tear down barriers to employment for all Marylanders."

The union and Maryland Working Families are using social media, print media, an online petition and brochures to target senators "who are on the fence" in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George's County.

The Chamber of Commerce is also mobilizing its members to call senators, urging them to sustain the veto. One Democratic senator has to flip in order to sustain the veto.

By Holden Wilen  –  Reporter, Baltimore Business Journal
Jan 11, 2018, 11:44am EST Updated Jan 11, 2018, 1:27pm

Thursday, January 4, 2018

IRS Extends Reporting Due Dates for 1095 Forms Sent to Individuals By ALE's

On Dec. 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced extended deadlines for 2017 Minimum Essential Coverage (Section 6055) and (Applicable) Large Employer (ALE) Shared Responsibility (Section 6056) reporting due to individuals in early 2018. The extended deadlines are as follows:

2017 Forms Sent to Individuals
Original Deadline
Extended Deadline
Form 1095-B
Form 1095-C

Employers and insurers are encouraged to provide the forms to individuals as soon as possible, but no later than March 2, 2018. Individuals who file their 2017 federal income tax returns before receiving their 1095-B and 1095-C forms will not be required to amend their income tax returns once they receive their forms. They should keep their forms, once received, with their tax records.

It is important to note the IRS has not extended the due date for filing 2017 Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, or 1095-C with the IRS. The deadline remains February 28, 2018, for those with 250 or fewer forms filing by paper, or April 2, 2018, if filing electronically.

The IRS also extended its transition relief with respect to penalties if good faith efforts are made to comply with information reporting requirements.

From Cigna Healthplan January 4, 2018