While the focus in the Bluegrass state over the past couple of weeks has been on horses and bourbon, a lobbying group for older Americans — the AARP — has asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C. to rule that the EEOC’s new guidelines for employee wellness programs are illogical and arbitrary. According to the AARP, the guidelines allow companies to violate workers’ medical privacy rights. The AARP filed its summary judgment motion on Friday, April 28. The lawsuit was initially filed in October 2016. Wellness programs, of course, include programs where an employer provides incentives for workers to quit smoking, lose weight or undergo preventative health screenings, among other things. Workers who participate in such programs are usually asked by employers to provide certain confidential medical information.
Information gleaned from the EEOC, the DOL and the insurance industry can assist in analyzing what types of claims employers are likely to see in the coming years.
The most recent EEOC statistics reveal that in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Mississippi, the top filed charges with the EEOC were (in varying order depending on the state): race, retaliation, disability and sex discrimination [see here]. There is no doubt that the EEOC is aggressively pursuing lawsuits and charges against employers in these areas. In addition, Continue reading
Today, the United States Supreme Court upheld subsidies for individuals who purchase health care insurance through all health care exchanges regardless of whether the exchange was established by a state or the federal government. The case, King v. Burwell, is the latest ruling in a number of challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the 6-3 ruling, the Court stated that this ruling will prevent the destabilization of the individual health insurance market into a death spiral.
What does this mean to the average American? If you purchase health insurance from an exchange and meet the eligibility requirements, then you may continue to receive subsidies to help pay for that coverage. It does not matter that you are in a state exchange or a federal exchange. So, essentially status quo.
What does this mean to the average employer? The subsidies available through the exchanges are the triggers for the penalties that may be imposed upon certain large employers if that employer either fails to offer coverage to its full time employees or offers coverage that is not affordable or does not provide minimum value. Had the subsidies been taken away, then employers in states with federal exchanges would likely have not been subject to the penalties because in order to be subject to a penalty, an employee would have to purchase insurance on an exchange AND receive a subsidy. Subsidies are not available to employees if they have an appropriate offer of coverage from an employer. So, if you are a large employer and were hoping that you would not be subject to the penalties under the ACA, you should review your policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the ACA.