Stevens Point Area Human Resource Association – Legal / Legislative Update – March 2015
Breaking news from Wisconsin!
• The State of Wisconsin Legislature approved Right-To-Work legislation and Governor Walker signed the bill. What does the legislation do? It prohibits future collective bargaining agreements from requiring an employee, as a condition of employment, to become or remain a union member or to pay any union dues, fees, assessments, charges, or other expenses to a union (such requirements are typically called “union security clauses” because, hey, they provide security for union rosters and treasuries). Check out SPAHRA’s blog posting on the SPAHRA website for more information.
ACA / HCR
• The IRS has released the final versions of Forms 6055 and 6056 along with instructions on completing the forms. Every provider of minimum essential coverage (MEC) must report coverage information by filing an information return with the IRS (Form 6055) and furnishing a W2-like statement to individuals (Form 6056). The information reporting requirements are effective for coverage provided in 2015, with health coverage providers filing information returns with the IRS and furnishing statements to individuals in 2016, to report coverage information in calendar year 2015. Why am I bothering you with this now, when 2015 has barely begun? Because there is a great deal of information to be collected and stored now so you will be able to meet your reporting obligation in 2016.
• Meanwhile, Harvard professors are outraged that the University’s health insurance plan has increased annual deductibles (to a whopping $250 individual/$750 family), and added $20 copays for office visits and 10% coinsurance, up to out-of-pocket maximums of $1,500 individual/$4,500 family. University communications attributed the changes to ACA provisions related to coverage extensions for children up to age 26, free preventive care, and the impending Cadillac tax set to take effect in 2018. Professors characterized the changes as “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university” and a pay cut. What tickled my funnybone about this story was that many professors (at Harvard as well as other largely liberal academic settings) supported the passage of the ACA. They really do live in an ivory tower!
• Bloomberg news service reports that large employers (remember, that’s any company with 100 or more employees under the ACA) are increasingly putting an end to their most generous health-care coverage plans as the 40% excise tax known as the Cadillac tax looms closer under the ACA. Companies are introducing higher deductibles, copays, and coinsurance percentages in an effect to reduce the overall premium (value) of the plan to fit under the ACA’s established dollar value definition of high-value health plan (currently $10,200 annual for an individual and $27,500 for a family). A vice president of the National Business Group on Health, which represents large employers, said, “It doesn’t help the company, it doesn’t help the employees, it doesn’t help the shareholders. It doesn’t really help anybody except the federal government.”
Without the revenue from the Cadillac Tax, which was long ago factored into budget projections, the Congressional Budget Office has said that up to $111 billion will be added to the deficit by 2022; something that should have been easily foreseen, because what company wants to, or can afford to, pay a 40% tax on top of all the other fees, taxes, and administrative costs built into the ACA?
• Ambush Election Rule
Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate, in the form of resolutions of disapproval, to block the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) “ambush” election rule. The ambush election rule gets its nickname because of its focus on speeding up the union election process at the expense of both employees and employers, who will have insufficient time to understand the consequences of unionization in the workplace. SHRM believes the ambush election rule constitutes an imbalanced approach that limits employer free speech during union organizing campaigns. The timing of the resolutions is meant to send a message of disapproval prior to the NLRB rule’s April 14, 2015 effective date.
• The day before the feds were set to start issuing paperwork for up to 5 million undocumented workers, a Federal District Court judge issued a temporary injunction on President Obama’s Executive Action on implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the proposed expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The judge’s action was based on his belief that the Obama Administration failed to adhere to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in creating the DAPA program. Specifically, DAPA is a “substantive” or “legislative” rule that should have undergone the notice and comment rulemaking process of the APA. The judge also opined that the 26 states who are suing the administration are likely to prevail on the merits of their case (that implementation will have a significant negative impact financially for individual states). The temporary injunction enjoins the Department of Homeland Security from implementing any and all aspects and phases of the DAPA program and expansions of the DACA program, pending a trial on the merits or a further order by the District Court, Firth Circuit Court of Appeals, or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Blog post submitted by Amanda Pixler, SPAHRA Communications Chair