May 2011  |  Volume 2, Number 5

Obama Signs Bill Repealing Health Care Reform Law Vouchers

The voucher repeal provision is part of an appropriations measure, HR 1473, that the president signed on April 15.

  • The bill would have required employers to offer low-wage employees company-paid vouchers to buy coverage in state health insurance exchanges.
  • The voucher provision, backed by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, prompted strong opposition from business groups, which said it would boost employer costs and add administrative complexity.

Click here to read the full article.

Contract, Compliance and Research Updates
Government Departments Release Sixth Set of FAQs on Affordable Care Act

The frequently asked questions (FAQs) address several issues related to grandfathered health plans, including:

  • The scope of the anti-abuse rule in the interim final regulations relating to grandfather status and interpretation of the term "bona fide employment-based reason."
  • Whether a group health plan's grandfather status is affected by prescription drug cost sharing based on a tiered system.
  • How grandfather status is affected in a value-based insurance design (VBID) situation.
  • The timing of when grandfather status is lost in certain situations.
  • The grandfather status of a plan covering both retirees and employees that caps the employer contributions for retirees.
The departments indicate they are seeking further information on VBID and wellness programs and are planning to address issues relating to those designs and programs in future guidance.
The full text of the FAQs is available here.
Wisconsin Updates


Wisconsin Office of Free Market Health Care Updates

On January 27, 2011, Governor Walker signed Executive Order #10 to establish the Office of Free Market Health Care. According to a press release, the Office will be directed by the Department of Health Services and the Office of Commissioner of Insurance, and will ensure that Wisconsin maintains a vibrant, competitive health insurance market that is consumer driven and is based on free market principles. The office will:

  • Encourage transparency in all efforts of the Office.
  • Assess the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on Wisconsin insurance markets and programs.
  • Seek counsel from a wide range of health care stakeholders.
  • Conditionally develop a plan for the design and implementation of a Wisconsin health benefit exchange.
  • Explore all opportunities and alternative approaches that would free Wisconsin from establishing a health benefit exchange.

Please visit their new website for additional information.

In This Issue
Free Choice Vouchers
Contract, Compliance and Research Updates
Wisconsin Updates

HR & Benefit Essentials has changed to HR360*

More information regarding Health Care Reform and other benefit resources is available on the HR360 website, available to BSG clients under the "Resources" menu of their HR Express website. HR360 includes new features including step-by-step interactive guides which make the processes of hiring, termination, COBRA and FMLA so much easier in addition to the new online tools such as job description builder and salary benchmarking tool.

BSG subscribes to this service for your benefit. If you would like more information regarding this resource please contact your account management team at BSG. 


*The HR & Benefit Essentials website has a new name and look. You can still access HR360 as instructed above. 


Study of High-Deductible Health Plans Finds Substantial Cost Savings, but Less Preventive Care

The largest-ever assessment of high-deductible health plans finds that while such plans significantly cut health spending, they also prompt patients to cut back on preventive health care, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Studying more than 800,000 families from across the United States, researchers found that when people shifted into health insurance plans with deductibles of at least $1,000 per person, their health spending dropped an average of 14 percent when compared to families in health plans with lower deductibles.

  • While families reduced their medical spending, they eliminated some beneficial care, such as childhood immunizations and cancer screenings.
  • The findings about preventive care have implications for adoption of national health care reform in the United States.
  • "There's general agreement that the U.S. heath care system needs to reduce costs while maintaining quality," said Amelia M. Haviland, a study co-author and statistician at RAND.

To read the article, click here.


Financial Incentives for Wellness Programs Do Not Violate ADA: Court

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed a lawsuit alleging that financial incentives to participate in a voluntary wellness program as part of a health plan provided to employees by Broward County, Fla., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • Former Broward County employee Bradley Seff filed a class action complaint alleging that the county violated the ADA by requiring employees to undergo medical examinations and making medical inquiries about them.
  • In Bradley Seff vs. Broward County, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore granted summary judgement to Broward County, ruling that the wellness program falls under the safe harbor provision of the ADA and is based on insurance and risk management principles.
  • "It is clear to this court that the wellness program is not a is a valid term of a benefits plan that falls within the ambit of the ADA's safe harbor profusion," said Judge Moore.

To read the article, click here.

To review the Judge's Ruling, click here.

Enlighten is published by The Benefit Services Group, Inc., (BSG®) and is provided free of charge to select BSG client representatives and associates.BSG logo

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The preceding is not intended to be and is not offered as legal advice. We are prohibited from the practice of law. Compliance is the responsibility of the employer or Plan sponsor and affected employees who should seek their own legal counsel regarding questions about information presented in this newsletter.

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