Legislative Alerts

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2018 Shared Responsibility Affordability Percentage

November 06, 2017 | Leave a Comment

2018 Shared Responsibility Affordability Percentage

The Affordable Care Act requires applicable large employers (those who employ at least 50 full-time employees) to offer affordable, minimum health coverage to all full-time employees and their dependents. This ACA mandate is known as employer shared responsibility or “pay or play”.

The IRS announced the shared responsibility affordability percentage will decrease for plan years beginning in 2018. Employer-sponsored coverage will be considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution (for the least-expensive, self-only coverage option) does not exceed 9.56% of the employee’s annual household income.

This is down from 9.69% in 2017. This decrease, announced in May, is the first time the percentage has not increased in the past few years. Because the affordability rate is lower in 2018 than 2017, employers may need to lower employee contributions for the new plan year. An applicable large employer will face a penalty if a full-time employee receives a subsidy through the healthcare exchange.

For more information on shared responsibility rules, please click here.

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Employee Benefit Plan Limits Increasing for 2018

November 01, 2017 | Leave a Comment

Employee Benefit Plan Limits Increase 2018

The Internal Revenue Service has increased the annual dollar limits for various welfare and retirement plan limits for 2018, including HDHPs, HSAs, FSAs, and 401(k) plans.

These changes may affect employer benefit plan designs. Employers should ensure their plan administration will be consistent with the new limits and communicate the new limits to employees during open enrollment periods.

Click here for more information on the upcoming increases. Please contact us with any questions by emailing your Cornerstone Consultant or cig@cornerstoneinsurancegroup.com.

Posted in Benefits, Blog, Legislative Alerts

White House Ends ACA Subsidies

October 13, 2017 | Leave a Comment

White House Announces ACA Subsidies Will End 10-13-17

The White House announced on Oct. 12 that it will end reimbursements for low-income individuals who purchase insurance through the Exchanges. The cuts are effective immediately.

This decision will likely affect the open enrollment period beginning Nov. 1. Some states have indicated their intention to sue the federal government to force these subsidies to be paid. However, until a federal court intervenes or Congress enacts an appropriation for these payments, it is possible that these cost-sharing reductions will no longer be paid.

For more information on the announcement that the White House will end ACA subsidies, please click here.

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Recent Overtime Law Is Officially Over

September 01, 2017 | Leave a Comment

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Following an injunction from November 2016, the Obama-era revisions to the FLSA Overtime regulations are now officially off the table. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant ruled in favor of more than 55 business groups who challenged the 2016 changes, which would’ve more than doubled the minimum annual salary required to qualify employees for overtime exemption.

Employees must still satisfy three criteria to qualify for overtime exemption:

  1. The employee must be paid on a salaried basis
  2. The employee must meet the minimum salaried threshold – which now remains at $23,660/annually
  3. The employee must meet the duties criteria as defined by the Department of Labor. Click here to view a brief overview of these exemptions.

Employers are encouraged to prepare for a salary increase eventually, as many agree the minimum threshold is outdated and needs to be increased, but experts advise it will not be to the level proposed in the 2016 bill.  To date, there are no changes planned.

Posted in Blog, Human Resources, Legislative Alerts | Tagged  , , ,

Updated I-9 Form Available

August 08, 2017 | Leave a Comment

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has implemented a few minor changes to the I-9 form. Employers can begin using the updated form now and must use it exclusively by Sept. 18, 2017. The form’s expiration date of Aug. 31, 2019, has not changed. The new form can be accessed here.

While a couple minor adjustments were made to List C in the List of Acceptable Documents, there are no significant changes to the form and nothing has changed in regards to how the document is completed.

*Link to I-9 updated 8/10 

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STL Minimum Wage Scaling Back to $7.70

July 03, 2017 | Leave a Comment

STL Minimum Wage Scaling Back to $7.70

Missouri Governor Greitens announced Friday that he will allow a bill to become a law that reverts St. Louis minimum wage to the state minimum wage of $7.70.

The law, which will go into effect August 28 of this year, will ban local minimum wages, requiring St. Louis to stick to the standardized minimum wage requirement for Missouri.

For more information, see the full article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Posted in Blog, Legislative Alerts

IRS Announces Raises to HSA/HDHP Dollar Limits for 2018

May 17, 2017 | Leave a Comment

IRS Announces Raises to HSA/HDHP Dollar Limits for 2018

Dollar limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) will be increased for plan years beginning after Jan. 1, 2018, to account for inflation, as announced by the Internal Revenue Service this month.

The following chart outlines the changes in contribution limits to occur in 2018:

Changes to 2018 HSA and HDHP Limits

HSA Contribution Changes

The HSA contribution limit will increase $50 for self-only plans and $150 for family plans, to a total limit of $3,450 and $6,900 respectively. HSA catch-up contributions for people age 55 and older are not subject to increases to account for inflation and will remain the same.

HDHP Eligibility Changes

To qualify as an HDHP in 2018, a plan will require a minimum deductible of $1,350 for self-only plans, up $50 from the 2017 minimum. The minimum deductible for family HDHP plans will increase $100 from 2017 to $2,700 in 2018.

Out-of-pocket maximums have also increased for the 2018 plan year. Maximum expenses for HDHP plans will be $6,650 for self-only and $13,300 for family, up $100 and $200 from 2017 respectively.

Next Steps

Employers sponsoring HDHPs may need to make changes to plan designs for 2018 and update any enrollment materials to reflect these new HSA limits.

Please contact your Cornerstone Consultant with any questions about the IRS’ announcement to raise HSA/HDHP dollar limits for 2018.

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Updates on Replace and Repeal of the ACA: American Health Care Act Sent to the Senate

May 10, 2017 | Leave a Comment

AHCA sent to senate

On May 4, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act. The new bill is now being deliberated by the Senate.

Although there is much media coverage surrounding the bill, all ACA requirements will remain in effect until the AHCA is passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump.

As the Senate considers the AHCA as it has been passed by the House of Representatives, it may pass or dismiss the bill in its entirety – or it could change the legislation so much that it passes a drastically different bill.

If the House and the Senate do pass separate versions of the bill, a committee will be formed to compromise and draft a hybrid of both bills. If a committee produces a hybrid bill, the Constitution requires that both the House and the Senate pass identical versions of the bill before it can be signed into law by President Trump.

This process may take weeks or months.

If it was signed into law as it stands now, the AHCA would make the following revisions to the ACA:

How will this affect your employer health plan?

  • Employer shared responsibility rules—

The ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules require applicable large employers (employers with 50 or more full-time employees) to offer an acceptable minimum level of health coverage to full-time employees and their dependents – or pay a penalty. Under the new bill, this provision will be canceled. However, Form 1094 & 1095 reporting requirements will remain.

  • Federal subsidies for small businesses—

In 2020, the ACHA will repeal the ACA’s small business tax credit.

  • Relief from Cadillac tax—

The start date of the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans will be pushed back, so the tax will begin after Dec. 31, 2025.

How will this affect your employees?

  • Increases in HSA contribution limits—

The ACHA will increase the maximum Health Savings Account contribution limit beginning in 2018. Where the maximum out-of-pocket limit allowed by law is currently $3,400 for self-only and $6,750 for family coverage, the ACHA will increase those maximums to $6,550 and $13,1000 respectively.

  • HSAs covering prior expenses—

Under the new bill, HSA funds will be able to pay for health care expenses incurred prior to the start date of the HSA (at least for funds occurring after the start date of a high deductible health plan, given the HSA is opened within 60 days from the start date of the HDHP).

  • OTC medications—

Tax-advantaged HSAs will be able to be used for a wider variety of over-the-counter health purchases.

  • FSA limits—

The ACHA will repeal the ACA’s clause imposing a limit to the funds an individual can contribute annually to a health Flexible Spending Account.

How will this affect the health care exchange?

  • Individual mandate—

The ACA requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and dependents or pay a penalty. Under the AHCA, this mandate will be repealed. Instead, the ACHA will impose a 30 percent penalty onto the premiums of small groups and individuals that have lapses in coverage.

  • Federal subsidies for individuals—

The ACA currently offers tax credits to low-income individuals who purchase health care coverage through the exchange. The AHCA will repeal these credits in 2020 and replace them with a monthly tax credit for all individuals.

Things that will not be changed by the ACHA include that coverage will still be allowed for children up to the age of 26 and there will be guaranteed availability and renewability of coverage.

Click here to read the American Health Care Act.

Posted in Benefits, Blog, Health Care Reform Info, Legislative Alerts | Tagged  , ,

St. Louis City Minimum Wage Increase to Go Into Effect Friday, May 5

May 04, 2017 | Leave a Comment

min wage increase

On May 4, 2017, St. Louis City announced the minimum wage increase will go into effect on Friday, May 5.

The minimum wage increase has a zero-day grace period and employers are expected to comply with the new regulations, which increase the city’s minimum wage to $10 per hour and $5 and hour for tipped employees.

The mayor’s office issued a statement indicating that failure to comply with the new law is “subject to prosecution in Municipal Court, and also may be subject to revocation of business licenses and occupancy permit.”

Per the city’s official website, the Department of Human Services has established a complaint center for employees to notify them of employer non-compliance and all complaints will be investigated within a 45 day period. The contact information for the city is minimumwage@stlouis-mo.gov or 314-589-6735.

The minimum wage will increase to $11.00 an hour on January 1, 2018.

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Upcoming Circuit Court Decision to Determine St. Louis City Minimum Wage Increase

April 27, 2017 | Leave a Comment

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On April 26, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed St. Louis City’s 2015 minimum wage increase, which has been on hold since October 2015 due to a Circuit Court injunction.

The Missouri Supreme Court declined to reconsider its February 2017 ruling, which essentially allows the wage increase to move forward.  This decision leaves only the Circuit Court’s injunction as the last remaining barrier, and the City expects the Circuit Court to lift its injunction within the next week. Once this occurs, the minimum wage increase will take effect immediately.

The increase will raise the minimum wage hourly rate for city employees from $7.70 to $10 immediately and raise it again to $11 effective January 1, 2018.  The tipped employee rate will also increase to $5 per hour and then raise again to $5.50 on January 1.

We recommend that, if you have not yet done so, you prepare for this increase as it will affect all employees conducting work within the St. Louis City limits.

Posted in Benefits, Blog, Human Resources, Legislative Alerts