The Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Treasury published final rules that removed the prohibition against integrating a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) with individual health insurance coverage and recognized certain HRAs as limited excepted benefits.
A U.S. District Court issued a permanent injunction against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contraception mandate. The President signed an executive order directing federal agencies to issue guidance and regulations regarding high deductible health plans with health savings accounts, Section 213 medical care expenses, flexible spending arrangements, health plan communication of out-of-pocket costs, and surprise billing.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding HIPAA compliance for health plans during care coordination and continuity.
DOL, HHS, and Treasury Publish Final Rules on HRAs
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the following parameters for the defined standard Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit for 2020:
On June 20, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Treasury (Treasury) (collectively, the Departments) published their final rules regarding health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and other account-based group health plans. The DOL also issued a news release, frequently asked questions, model notice, and model attestations.
The final rules’ goal is to expand the flexibility and use of HRAs to provide individuals with additional options to obtain quality, affordable healthcare. According to the Departments, these changes will facilitate a more efficient healthcare system by increasing employees’ consumer choice and promoting healthcare market competition by adding employer options.
To do so, the final rules expand the use of HRAs by:
The final rules will be effective on August 19, 2019, and generally apply for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2020.
District Court Issues Permanent Injunction against ACA’s Contraception Mandate
On June 5, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a permanent injunction against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraception mandate. The injunction prohibits the federal government from enforcing the contraception mandate against an employer, group health plan, or health insurer that objects, based on sincerely held religious beliefs, to establishing, maintaining, providing, offering, or arranging for coverage or payment for some or all contraceptive services. The injunction also exempts objecting entities from the accommodations process.
The permanent injunction also prohibits enforcement of the contraception mandate for individuals who object to coverage or payments for some or all contraceptive services based on sincerely held religious beliefs and who are willing to obtain health insurance that excludes coverage for payments for some or all contraceptive services.
Employers who object to contraceptive coverage based on sincerely held religious beliefs are no longer required to comply with the ACA’s contraception mandate for those contraceptives to which they object.
Executive Order on Improving Healthcare Price and Quality Transparency
On June 24, 2019 President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to increase healthcare quality and price transparency. The executive order does not create any new laws or regulations.
The executive order directs the Department of Treasury to:
HHS Issues HIPAA FAQs
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued two frequently asked questions (FAQs) clarifying how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules permit health plans to share protected health information (PHI) for care coordination and continuity.
If certain conditions apply, a health plan may disclose PHI, without an individual’s written authorization and subject to the minimum necessary standard, to another health plan for its own health care operations purposes, or for the other health plan’s health care operations. OCR provides two examples:
If certain conditions are met, HIPAA permits a covered entity to use PHI in its possession about individuals to inform them about the availability of other health plans it offers, without the person’s authorization. For example, when Plan A discloses a person’s PHI to Plan B, Plan B is permitted to send communications to the person about Plan B’s health plan options that may replace the person’s current plan, if Plan B receives no remuneration for sending the communication and complies with applicable business associate agreements.
Question of the Month
Q. Which group health plans must file a Form 5500 and when is it due?
A. Currently, group welfare plans generally must file Form 5500 if:
There are several exemptions to Form 5500 filing. The most notable are:
A plan is considered unfunded if the employer pays the entire cost of the plan from its general accounts. A plan with a trust is considered funded.
A plan’s Form 5500 must be filed electronically by the last day of the seventh month after the close of the plan year. The filing date is based on the “plan year,” which is designated in the Summary Plan Description (SPD) or other governing document. If a plan does not have an SPD, the plan year defaults to the policy year.
For calendar year plans, the due date for Form 5500 is July 31. Employers may obtain an automatic 2-1/2 month extension by filing Form 5558 by the due date of the Form 5500.