Posted August 24, 2018 by Megan DiMartino
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as state and local laws, requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. Employees are able to request specific reasonable accommodations, but employers are not required to provide all requests as they may choose among these reasonable accommodations or provide alternatives (as long as the reasonable accommodation is effective).
In a recent court case, Sessoms v. Trustees of the Univ. of Pennsylvania (June 20, 2018), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (covering DE, NJ & PA) ruled in favor of the University of Pennsylvania saying they demonstrated good faith in its negotiations on reasonable accommodations for their employee. The employee, who suffered from mental and physical disabilities as well as having difficulties with her supervisor, requested that the University of Pennsylvania allow her to work on a part-time basis, before returning to full-time, after her medical leave and to transfer her to a new, “lower-stress” department under a new supervisor.
The University of Pennsylvania chose to accommodate her request for a part-time schedule but kept her in the same position under the same supervisor. The employee declined this reasonable accommodation and was ultimately terminated. She filed the lawsuit claiming they did not engage in a good-faith effort to reasonably accommodate her requests/disabilities. As already stated, the court ruled in the University of Pennsylvania’s favor and concluded that the employee did not provide evidence of other available positions and that her unwillingness to accept the part-time schedule which included working under the same supervisor was unreasonable.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) already stated long before this that an employer is not required to provide the requested reasonable accommodations and can instead consider alternatives, stating that:
“If there are two possible reasonable accommodations, and one costs more or is more burdensome than the other, the employer may choose the less expensive or burdensome accommodation as long as it is effective (i.e., it would remove a workplace barrier, thereby providing the individual with an equal opportunity to apply for a position, to perform the essential functions of a position, or to gain equal access to a benefit or privilege of employment). Similarly, when there are two or more effective accommodations, the employer may choose the one that is easier to provide.”
So, before rejecting an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation, discuss the request and propose effective alternatives, if necessary, with the employee to find a common ground and an acceptable reasonable accommodation that truly meets their needs and capabilities.
Posted August 15, 2018 by Megan DiMartino
Healthcare Reform Timeline – Perpetual timeline of all healthcare reform updates from 2010 to 2020 (and 2022 – when the Cadillac Tax is scheduled to “begin”).
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Account Manager or Sales Executive.
Posted August 10, 2018 by Megan DiMartino
Breaking news from Washington, D.C. confirms the House of Representatives adopted two health care bills in late July 2018. In general, if these bills are passed they would allow for more flexibility in the definition of a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and how healthcare consumers can spend their savings for medical related requirements.
The bills, H.R. 6199 and H.R. 6311, expand tax-advantage health care accounts, inclusive of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). These bills are broader than the versions passed by the House Ways and Means Committee recently as they also include aspects of other bills that had been previously approved by the Committee. The bills presented also received significant democratic support.
Here’s a breakdown of the two bills:
The Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act, H.R. 6199, was passed by a margin of 277 to 142. This bill would:
- Allow individuals to purchase over-the-counter medical products by reversing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) prohibition on using tax-favored health accounts. And, prescriptions would not be required for eligibility purposes.
- Treatment of menstrual care products as qualified medical expenses with all tax-advantaged health care accounts.
- Treatment of certain sports and fitness expenses – including gym memberships and costs associated with participation in certain physical exercise programs. These items would be recognized as qualified medical expenses up to a limit of $500 per year for individuals and $1,000 per year for a family.
- Allow HDHPs coverage up to $250 for individuals and $500 for families on an annual basis for non-preventive services not currently covered as pre-deductible. Limited coverage outside the deductible would be allowed, i.e., for chronic condition treatments and telehealth services.
- Allow individuals with HSA-qualifying family coverage to make contributions to an HSA if their spouse is enrolled in a medical FSA, which is currently not permitted.
- Permit the use of employer-sponsored onsite medical clinics and other employment-related health services without imposing a risk to HSA eligiblity, as long as significant benefits are not provided.
- Recognize direct primary care (DPC) provider fees as covered with HSAs and capped monthly at $150 per individual and $300 per family.
- Shield HSA-eligible individuals who participate in a DPC from losing their HSA eligibility.
- Increase HSA 2018 annual contribution to $6,650 for individuals and $13,300 for families. This represents the 2018 combined annual limit on out-of-pocket and deductible expenses under an HSA qualified insurance plan.
- Allows HSAs to cover qualified medical expenses at the start of the HDHP coverage if accounts are opened within 60 days after coverage under an HDHP begins. This proposal includes a reasonable grace period between the timeframe the HDHP coverage starts and the set-up of the HSA.
- Allow employees with an FSA or an HRA who enroll in a qualifying HDHP with an HSA to transfer balances from their FSA or HRA to their HSA. Transfers would be capped at $2,650 for individuals and $5,300 for families. This option is offered at the employer’s discretion.
- Allow for health FSA balances to carry over to the following plan year. The carry over option could not exceed 3 times the annual FSA contribution limit.
- Allow for spouses 55 years of age and older (currently only available for account holders) to make an annual catch-up contribution to an HSA that’s linked to a health plan providing family level coverage. The extra contribution amount cannot exceed $1,000.
- Permit working seniors who participate in Medicare Part A and covered by a qualifying HDHP to contribute to an HSA.
What to expect next?
Senate approval is needed by year-end for both bills to become law. Analysts predict the likelihood of that happening to be challenging. Also, on the horizon – in September 2018, the House is also expected to vote on several of the other ACA related measures that were previously passed by the Ways and Means Committee. These bills include H.R. 4616, which is designed to delay the Cadillac Tax until 2021 and to also suspend the ACA employer mandate penalties for plan years through 2018.
GovTrack – H.R. 6199 & H.R. 6311
Congress.gov – H.R. 6311 & H.R. 6199
Posted August 9, 2018 by Megan DiMartino
What are employers doing to stay on the cutting edge to ensure that employees fully leverage their benefits offering? There are several tools to achieve this while making the process proactive and engaging. We will review industry standards from employee polls regarding open enrollment processes to make sure the information is simple and clear as well as enrollment studies from our carrier partners to help re-invent the enrollment experience. With early campaigning, clear messaging and engagement tips to use available technology for all demographics, the enrollment experience can be enhanced for all parties involved.
Please join us for this SHRM* pre-approved, complimentary, one-hour webinar as our Director of Voluntary Benefits, Stephen Ivey, walks through best practices for communication and enrollment within the voluntary benefits marketplace.
- State of the Industry
- Essential vs. Fringe
- Communication Studies
- Different Strategies
- Wednesday, August 22, 2018
- 2:00pm – 3:00pm EDT
- No cost to attend
- This webinar is open to all HR and Finance Professionals – but not to brokers, agents, TPAs and PEOs
*AP Benefit Advisors, LLC is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.