MassAHU is invested in providing our members the most up to date, accurate and broker specific education and practical advice with regard to health care reform and the changing landscape of today’s employee benefits marketplace for our members, even for our workers working from home, since we use remote team management software for this. The MassAHU chapter of NAHU continues to engage the professional services of Rick Szczebak, Esq. with RAS Law, P.C. for our members. MassAHU will be posting a summary publication provided by Attorney Szczebak on a monthly basis, which is accessible to members only. Please log in to access these Broker Updates.
June 2019 UPDATE: IT’S OFFICIAL: EMPLOYER MA FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE CONTRIBUTIONS DELAYED FOR 3 MONTHS – UNTIL OCTOBER 1, 2019 – CONTRIBUTION PERCENTAGE INCREASED TO .75% As reported on June 12th, the Massachusetts House, Senate and Baker Administration issued a joint statement late yesterday agreeing to adopt a three month delay to the start of required contributions to the MA PFML program.
On June 13th the MA legislature enacted and the Governor signed legislation to delay the start of employer and employee contributions to the Paid Family and Medical Leave program (PFML).
On June 14th the DFML provided the following information on its website: doi.gov and go to Wage and Hour Division the Family and Medical Leave Act
June 2019 – EMPLOYER MA FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE CONTRIBUTIONS DELAYED FOR 3 MONTHS – UNTIL OCTOBER 1, 2019 – CONTRIBUTION PERCENTAGE INCREASED TO .75% With just three weeks to spare, the Massachusetts House, Senate and Baker Administration issued a joint statement late yesterday agreeing to adopt a three month delay to the start of required contributions to the MA PFML program. This is being done “to ensure businesses have adequate time to implement the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program.” According to the joint statement “technical changes to clarify program design” will also be adopted.
May 2019 SO, YOU WANT TO BE EXEMPT . . . FROM THE MASSACHUSETTS PFML What Does That Mean Exactly? The Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) is now open to employers already providing paid leave benefits to their workforce through their own private plan and wish to receive an exemption from collecting, remitting, and paying Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) contributions. Exemption applications can be submitted through the Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect.
Some employers are asking their insurance brokers how they should revise their leave plans to meet the exemption. In most cases these employers are considering the exemption for the medial leave portion of the PFML only; largely because employers have a medical leave/STD program already in place – often administered by an insurance carrier on either a fully insured or self-insured basis.
April 2019 – MassAHU April 2019 Member Bulletin
MASSACHUSETTS PFML WRITTEN NOTICE TO CURRENT EMPLOYEES – MUST BE PROVIDED BY EMPLOYERS ON OR BEFORE MAY 31, 2019
Guidance regarding the MA PFML law is coming at a fast and furious pace. The latest guidance addresses the written notice that employers must provide to their current employees. The Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) statute creates certain written employer notice obligations. Beginning July 1, 2019, in addition to a poster requirement, the statutory language provides that employers must:
March 2019 – ONLINE APPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYER EXEMPTION FROM THE MA PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE LAW AVAILABLE TO EMPLOYERS ON APRIL 29. An additional piece of the MA Paid Family and Medical leave (PFML) puzzle is falling into place. A burning question for some employers is when would the exemption process for employers with private leave policies take place. It was not clear if exemption applications would be available before July 1, 2019 and, if so, whether exemptions would be granted before pre-funding of the Family and Medical Leave Trust begins on July 1, 2019. Employers wishing to apply for exemption surely do not want to begin making pre-funding contributions before any application was considered or approved.
General Rule: an HSA account beneficiary’s interest in an HSA is non-forfeitable.
January 2019 The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law Draft Regulations Released & Listening Sessions Scheduled Proposed draft regulations relating to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program have been released by the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) well in advance of the March 31, 2019 statutory deadline to publish draft regulations.
The DFML oversees the Commonwealth’s PFML program. Beginning January 1, 2021 (a) paid family leave benefits will be available for bonding with a new child, and servicemember-related events, and (b) paid medical leave benefits will be available for serious personal health conditions. However, paid family leave benefits for the care of a family member with a serious health condition (up to 12 weeks) is delayed and does not begin until July 1, 2021. The program will be funded by premiums paid by employees, employers, and those self-employed individuals electing to participate. Contributions to the program will begin on July 1, 2019 and will be managed through the DFML.
December 2018 The Department of Family and Medical Leave Website is Live and Features New FAQs The July 2018 version of the Member’s Only Bulletin addresses the so-called MA Grand Bargain, but primarily reviews the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (MA FMLA), based on its statutory provisions. The new program is administered by the state through a newly created state agency (the Department of Family and Medical Leave) and a single purpose trust fund (the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund) operated by the state.
November 2018 Special Broker Update: Filing The New Massachusetts Employer HIRD FORM in November 2018 – A Quick Start Overview.
Employers are receiving automated emails from the MA Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect notifying them of a new health insurance reporting requirement and indicating that action is required. Welcome to the new annual Employer Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (HIRD) filing requirement. Here is a quick start overview of the requirement.
Last month’s Member’s Only Bulletin discussed the proposed hardship waiver regulations. The Massachusetts DUA has since issued a hardship waiver application for businesses and emergency hardship waiver regulations reflecting comments and suggestions made by various stakeholders during the listening sessions held by DUA and the brief comment period.
The good news is DUA should be commended for its efforts in finalizing hardship waiver regulations in a very short time and getting the hardship waiver process in play. The not so good news is that the deadline for the very first quarterly hardship application is October 12, 2018 (don’t be surprised if this date is extended, but don’t count on it either). The current timeline for Q3 looks like this, per DUA:
On September 13, 2018 the DUA published a proposed regulation (430 CMR 21.11) intended to establish procedures and to interpret the standards for granting hardship waivers to employers liable for the EMAC Supplement. The EMAC law was amended in July 2018, as part of the FY 2019 Budget, permitting the DUA to develop a waiver for employers experiencing a financial hardship because of the EMAC Supplement.
You may have clients that are interested in the hardship waiver process; most likely with seasonal businesses or in certain industries, such as the staffing industry for example. In order to apply for a hardship waiver, the employer must first be liable for the EMAC Supplement.
August 2018 Disposing of Electronic Devices and Media
This bulletin is about your laptop, smart phone, USB thumb drives (multiplied by the number of the staff members in your office); even your office photocopier(s). These devices can be lost or stolen (hopefully this is less likely for your office photocopier(s)). Perhaps it’s just time to replace them because they are old, worn out, or technologically out of date.
Many insurance brokers are considered business associates for HIPAA privacy and security purposes. How much PHI or other sensitive information do you carry on your smart phone alone? What about all the attachments to emails you open on your smart phone containing enrollment information, SSNs, claims issues, lasered claims under a client’s stop loss policy just to name a few?
July 2018 The Grand Bargain
Two ballot initiatives were slated to be voted on by MA voters in this November’s election; one a family and medical leave initiative and the other an increase in the MA minimum wage. Rather than wait for the November election results, Governor Baker, the MA legislature and the business community took control of the process and agreed to legislation known as “the Grand Bargain,” signed by Governor Baker on June 28, 2018.
June 2018 –EMAC Q2 Wages Due July 1 and Amendments to EMAC Supplement in the Current 2018 State Budget Bill are Under Consideration
Many of your clients are still grappling with Q1 EMAC Supplement issues. They have a few more days — until June 30, 2018 – to submit EMAC Employee Information Forms requesting a MassHealth or Health Connector eligibility redetermination for their listed employees to make certain related EMAC Supplement charges for Q1 are correct.
There’s something that may cause some consternation — more than $130 million of the $200 million in EMAC Supplement tax for 2018 has already been collected in Q1 alone (hat tip to AIM for reporting this figure).
May 2018 – Shifting Gears on Appeals of the Big EMAC Attack
By now you may be hearing from clients that their EMAC Supplement appeal request – filed with the DUA within 15 days of receiving their 1st quarter EMAC Supplement assessment — has been summarily denied. This is less than desirable news for employers with significant EMAC Supplement liabilities. “So now what?”, your client asks. Read on for the answer
April 2018 Edition #2 – Appealing DUA EMAC Supplement Determinations – What Your Clients Need to Know
So now the EMAC attack has been let out of the bag and has arrived at employers of six or more near you; likely some are your clients. I just received a call for EMAC Supplement assistance from a CFO just returning from a very nice vacation only to find the EMAC assessment on his desk waiting for him. Welcome back.
April 2018 Edition #1 – The New MA Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) – It’s No April Fools
The questions have started coming into the office: “My client is asking about some new pregnancy discrimination law in MA. I haven’t heard anything. Do you know what they are talking about?” Yes, I do and now you will too.
February 2018 – HRA’s and COBRA – Calculating the COBRA Premium for HRA’s
“So, HRAs really are health plans subject to COBRA,” you say. But of course, and they always have been. The issuance of the IRS information letter discussed below seems like a good time to review the HRA/COBRA issue because it frequently crosses my desk.
Last fall the IRS released an “information letter” addressing an employer’s calculation of the COBRA premium charged to a former employee for continued coverage under a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). The former employee received a COBRA notice /election form and the cost of medical plus HRA coverage seemed quite high to him. This individual wrote his Congressman, who then wrote the IRS seeking clarification. The individual also wanted the IRS to audit the employer’s HRA, but that’s another story.
January 2018 – NEW FOR THE NEW 2018 YEAR – EMAC GUIDANCE AND THE TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT – PLUS ACA REPORTING RELIEF Health plan related compliance requirements continue for 2018. The Massachusetts Employer Medical Assistance Contribution Supplement (EMAC Supplement) is now in effect. This has been on the radar screen since early last year. In addition, there are changes in the taxation of certain fringe benefits as a result of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), signed by President Trump late last month. But there’s still more. The IRS has announced an extension of the deadline to furnish Forms 1095 (B or C) to covered individuals.
ACA REPORTING RELIEF: FORM 1095 REPORTING TO COVERED INDIVIDUALS IS EXTENDED 30 DAYS – Yes, the IRS has issued an automatic, 30-day extension for applicable large employers (ALEs) to furnish 2017 IRS Form 1095 (B and C) to covered individuals. Employers are not required to do anything special to receive the extension as the extension is automatic for all ALEs. As a result, for the 2017 calendar year reporting period, these Forms are now due to individuals on March 2, 2018, rather than January 31, 2018.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Sort of.
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