Spring Brings Bloom of Proposed Rules
Federal regulators have been busy recently with their own version of spring cleaning, announcing tweaks to Medicare notices, health savings account limits and a host of other proposed rules that would affect employer-sponsored health care plans.
The work started in late May when the IRS announced 2012 limits for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). The announcement includes figures for accounts attached to high-deductible health plans:
Annual HSA contribution limits: $3,100 for employee-only coverage (up $50 from 2011); $6,250 for family coverage (up $100 from 2011).
Minimum HDHP deductible: $1,200 for employee-only coverage and $2,400 for family coverage (no change from 2011).
Out-of-pocket maximums: $6,050 for employee-only coverage (up $100 from 2011); $12,100 for family coverage (up $200 from 2011).
Part D Notices
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) followed the IRS move with new Medicare Part D prescription drug model notices and changed the annual deadline for employers and plan sponsors to deliver those notices to plan participants. The notices inform participants about whether a plan's coverage is considered "creditable," which essentially means "the expected amount of paid claims under the entity's prescription drug coverage is at least as much as the expected amount of paid claims under the standard Medicare Part D benefits," according to April A. Goff of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.
In addition to the updated notices, CMS changed the annual distribution deadline to Oct. 15.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is taking comments on a proposed change that would expand the HIPAA Privacy disclosure rule regarding electronic health records. The rule, which amends the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the HITECH Act), grants plan participants the right to view an access report that identifies who has viewed their electronic health information. The deadline for comments to the HHS is Aug. 1.
While the rule would create a burden for health care plans and business associates, it has an upside, according to Kate Borten of The Marblehead Group in Massachusetts.
"I think it makes good sense to add the new right to an access report," Borten told HealthLeaders Media. "Many health care organizations already provide this voluntarily, and this report, which includes insider access (use, rather than disclosure), is commonly used to identify snoopers."
The EEOC, GINA and More
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is dusting off a number of labor-related regulations and has submitted a number of proposals that could impact employers' plans.
For instance, EEOC has proposed a rule that would require employers to keep all relevant employee records until any charge filed under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is resolved, according to a report in Business Insurance. This requirement already exists under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and therefore would not add an additional burden to employers, the EEOC contends.
The EEOC also is seeking general comment on a slew of other regulations to determine "whether any such regulations should be modified . . . in order to make the EEOC's regulatory program more effective and/or less burdensome," according to a PLANSPONSOR report. In addition to GINA, the comments can cover (as amended) portions of the Civil Rights Act, the ADA, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Rehabilitation Act.