Allen Steinberg

Allen Steinberg : Perspectives

Employee benefit plans—especially retirement and health care—have become an increasingly important part of the employment relationship. For employers, these plans represent an important part of the total compensation package, a tool for retention and recruitment, and a growing financial and compliance burden. For employees, these plans represent a key part of their overall financial security and wellbeing, a financial burden, and a source of complexity and frustration. In effect, it’s complicated. Our firm is dedicated to helping employers manage these complexities and focus on the important things.

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07.02.2018 07.00 CST

A new chapter may be opening in the ongoing saga of litigation against plan fiduciaries. A new target in this sage - plan vendors’ use of participant confidential financial to facilitate the cross-sales of non-plan financial products.

Fiduciary Lawsuits: A New Chapter Opening?

Fiduciary Lawsuits: A New Chapter Opening?

Latest Complaint Against NYU Raises New Challenges

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NYU retirement plans have filed an amended complaint. This new complaint challenges the use, by the plans’ recordkeeper, of participant confidential financial data and the recordkeeper’s cross-selling of non-plan financial products to plan participants.

30.01.2018 08.53 CST

Recently discovered computer bugs – Spectre and Meltdown – pose security threats to a large number of computers. As the result of employer responsibilities under HIPAA, employers should consider both their own systems and also the systems of health care vendors.

Spectre, Meltdown and HIPAA: An Unpleasant Trio

Spectre, Meltdown and HIPAA: An Unpleasant Trio

Both employers and James Bond must fight Spectre. Employers must also fight Meltdown – and fight these threats in a way that meets the requirements of HIPAA.

The tech world has been abuzz since the beginning of 2018 over two computer bugs – Spectre and Meltdown. These bugs pose a unique challenge – they occur as the result of the architecture of the computer’s central processing unit (CPU) and the development and implementation of patches will be more difficult than usual. These bugs also raise additional questions about employers’ responsibilities under HIPAA to “reasonably” protect health information.

11.01.2018 07.36 CST

Under the proposed regulation, a group of employers could be considered as an “employer” under ERISA if the employers had a “commonality of interest.” This is defined very loosely in the proposed regulation.

Association Health Plans on the Move

Association Health Plans on the Move

Proposed new rule opens way for a new type of health plan.

A new proposed regulation opens the way to expand association health plans (AHPs). AHPs are plans sponsored by a group of unrelated employers, linked by factors such as a common industry or geography. These AHP plans will be allowed to offer reduced benefits in order to lower the cost of coverage. The stated goal of the proposed regulation is to make it easier for small employers to buy lower cost health insurance. However, the new plans create risks for employees, employers and insurance markets.

05.12.2017 09.28 CST

The Senate tax act (H.R. 1) would make significant changes to individual and corporate tax rules. The bill leaves employment-related plans (largely) unscathed, but still has a number of provisions that will affect these plans. Most notably, the bill eliminates the individual mandate under ACA and adds a temporary tax credit for paid family and medical leave programs. And, although there are few direct changes to comp and benefits rules, the larger changes to the tax code are likely to impact employer-sponsored plans over the longer term.

The Senate Tax Bill: A Benefits Perspective

The Senate Tax Bill: A Benefits Perspective

This bill does not make dramatic changes to rules governing employer-sponsored plans. So, for now, the HR community can finish enter 2018 without the distraction that more dramatic changes would have been generated. Photo credit Ted Hartz, 2017

The Senate has now passed its version of a revamp to the tax code (H.R. 1). The legislation makes significant changes to many provisions of the code, including changes to corporate and individual taxation. A number of compensation and benefits changes, including elimination of the ACA’s individual mandate, are included in the bill. However, the core rules governing employer-sponsored retirement and healthcare benefits are unchanged.

26.11.2017 03.24 CST

Allegations about a fraudulent multiple employer plan raises concerns about the Trump Administration efforts to increase availability of similar plans.

A Sheep in Black Wolf’s Clothing: A Cautionary Tale

A Sheep in Black Wolf’s Clothing: A Cautionary Tale

The Department of Labor has shut down a multiple employer welfare association (MEWA) plan that allegedly pocketed health insurance premiums and left tens of millions in unpaid claims. There are some important lessons to be learned.

The U.S. Department of Labor has taken legal action against a multiple employer welfare association (MEWA) plan, alleging the MEWA organizers fraudulently pocketed tens of millions of dollars, while leaving claims unpaid. There are some important lessons to be learned as the Trump Administration’s seeks to increase the use of similarly structured Association Health Plans (AHPs).