What’s New in Health Policy

January 2019

Employer Wellness Plan Incentives to be removed from EEOC Rules

In April 2018, the National Alliance reported on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and their activities related to employee wellness programs. You can read the original Health Policy in Transit document here. The EEOC has officially rescinded its wellness regulations as of Jan. 1, 2019. The agency originally said it intended to propose new rules in August 2018 and finalize them in October 2019, but it has now pushed back its timeline to issue proposed rules in June of 2019.

Read More


December 2018

The Alliance Urges CMS to Adopt Proposed Rules for Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising

The Alliance has urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to formally adopt proposed rules regarding Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) drug advertising as outlined in CMS notice 4187-P. The Alliance submitted its letter on the proposed rule as part of the public comment process. As proposed, the rule would “require direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertisements of prescription drugs and biological products for which payment is available through or under Medicare or Medicaid to include the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC, or “list price”) of that drug or biological product.” The Alliance believes requiring transparency in DTC advertising is an important step towards arming patients with powerful information to help them make better-informed decisions.

Read the letter

June 2018

CMS Proposes Decreasing Patient Safety Transparency

CMS has published the 2019 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule. Among other things, this proposed rule would remove certain critical patient safety measures from the one and only federal program that exists to publicly report safety and quality information by hospitals: the Inpatient Quality Reporting Program (IQR). The Alliance has joined the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchasers in signing Leapfrog’s letter supporting transparency. Read the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions’ brief on the proposed rule here.

Read the letter

March 2018

The American Benefits Council Provides Key Insights on Health Care Transparency

In response to a request for information issued by six bipartisan senators, The American Benefits Council offered insights about the need for improved price and information transparency in the health care system. The March 23 letter to Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Todd Young (R-IN) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) highlighted the opportunities and challenges identified by employers in achieving greater transparency.

Read the letter

October 2017

How the executive orders on CSRs and HRAs will impact employers

The American Benefits Council has issued two statements on President Trump’s recent executive orders aimed at health care reform. One statement focuses on the health reimbursement account (HRA) portion of the health care executive order, while the other examines how the decision to cease the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments will impact employers. The Alliance is a member of the American Benefits Council on behalf of employers who belong to our cooperative.

Trump Administration Expands Contraception Mandate Exemptions

 Interim rules issued by the Trump Administration through multiple federal agencies on Oct. 6, 2017, exempt employers from covering or paying for contraceptives if they object “based on sincerely held religious beliefs” or have other “moral convictions” against covering contraceptive care. The rules were effective immediately. Self-funded plans governed by ERISA must still meet all notice requirements, including providing clear information in plan documents. The new rules were quickly challenged by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and California as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), with more challenges likely. An article from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) sums up some of the key issues for benefits administrators.

Read the update

September 2017

EEOC Shares Timeline for Reviewing Wellness Regulations

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shared its timeline for reconsidering final wellness regulations in a status report filed with a federal court. The EEOC stated that its “present intention is to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking by August 2018 and a final rule by October 2019.”  A Willis Towers Watson article reviews the federal court case and spells out the implications for employers.

Read the Update

August 2017

Federal Court Issues EEOC Guidelines

A federal court has ordered the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to develop a “reasoned explanation” for what defines a “voluntary” wellness program. The EEOC’s 2016 rules for using penalties and incentives in a “voluntary” workplace wellness plan were challenged in a lawsuit filed by AARP. The court ruling allows the 2016 rules to remain in place at this time.

Read the Update

July 2017

The Employer’s Perspective on Mental Health Parity

The American Benefits Council provided the employer’s perspective on mental health parity and substance use disorders at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “listening session” on July 27. Read the Council’s statement to learn why improving parity compliance is a complex issue and regulatory flexibility is needed. The Alliance belongs to the American Benefits Council on behalf of its employer members.

Read the Update

May 2017

2018 Amounts for HSAs and HDHPs Announced

The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Revenue Procedure 2017-37, which lists the indexed amounts, adjusted for inflation, for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) for calendar-year 2018.

Read the Update

March 2017

Keeping Up with Health Policy Changes: Important Information for Employers

John Barlament, attorney at Quarles & Brady, LLC spoke about current health policy updates and how employers can remain compliant with changing health policies at the March 2017 Alliance Learning Circle.

Watch the presentation

Visit our Past Events page to read more about the event and download John’s presentation.

January 2017

Health Care in the 115th Congress – Webinar

Katy Spangler, senior vice president, health policy of the American Benefits Council provides an expert summary on what lies ahead for health care and the Affordable Care Act.

health policy webinar icon

December 2016

The Alliance Signs Letter Opposing Limits to Tax Deductibility of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits

The Alliance has joined with 32 other organizations in signing a letter that asks members of the U.S. Congress not to act on proposals that would cap the individual tax exclusion for employer-provided health care benefits or limit employers’ deductibility of health care expenses. The letter also asks congressional representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s 40 percent Cadillac Tax on health benefits, which was slated to take effect in 2020. The American Benefits Council drafted the letter, which was signed by organizations that included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, the HR Policy Association, the Society for Human Resource Management and the Self-Insurance Institute of America. The Alliance is a member of American Benefits Council on behalf of employers who belong to our cooperative.

October 2016

Antitrust Guidance Released

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission recently released “Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals.” While the focus of this guidance is primarily on wages and salaries, benefits are also cited as a potential source of antitrust issues. The document advises HR professionals to “implement safeguards to prevent inappropriate discussions or agreements with other firms seeking to hire the same employees.” When they don’t, the document notes that violating antitrust laws can have “severe consequences.” The Alliance follows guidelines aimed at preventing antitrust issues in its role as an “information exchange” for employers who self-fund their health benefits.

August 2016

IRS Releases Draft Forms and Instructions for 2016 Reporting

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released draft instructions for completing forms 1094-C and 1095-C on Aug. 2, 2016. The instructions will guide employers in completing revised draft Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, which were released by the IRS on July 7, 2016. Read more.

March 2016

 Learn about Wisconsin’s updated workers’ compensation law

Governor Walker recently signed into law Assembly Bill 724 (AB 724), which modified and updated the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Act. Read more.



January 2016

Legal Compliance Checklist and FAQs

The U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury recently issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that provide information about implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA); the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA); and the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA).

EEOC Updates:

  • Barbara J. Zabawa, attorney and president of The Center for Health Law Equity, LLC, , shared resources for employers at an Alliance Learning Circle. The pdf Legal Compliance Checklist identifies compliance questions that should guide employers as they design workplace wellness programs. The pdf Special Update on the Flambeau Case summarizes the federal court decision in EEOC v. Flambeau. For additional resources from The Center for Health Law Equity please visit their website at www.cfhle.com. To watch Barbara’s full presentation, please visit our past events page.

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