Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

August Compliance Recap

Posted On: September 9, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

August 2020 Compliance Recap August was a relatively busy month in the employee benefits world. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released an updated report on health savings accounts (HSAs) that summarizes the principal rules governing HSAs and changes made to HSAs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued amended guidance allowing health plans to use protected health information (PHI) to contact individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 regarding donating blood plasma. A federal district court invalidated certain provisions of the regulations implementing the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The U.S. Supreme Court announced the date for oral arguments in the court case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. The Small Business Administration (SBA) released frequently asked questions (FAQs) on…


What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves?

Posted On: August 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves? When managing a qualified retirement plan, there are certain duties the plan sponsor and committee members have to the plan and participants as named fiduciaries. These duties create liability for the plan sponsor and committee members for decisions made regarding the plan. In recent years, retirement plan lawsuits relating to fees have become more prevalent. Additionally, these suits are beginning to impact smaller plans, such as the Greystar 401(k) plan in 2019 which had less than $250,000,000 in assets. How can plan sponsors and committee members ensure that they are taking all the necessary steps to protect themselves? Develop Well Documented and Structured Processes to Monitor Investments Investment selection goes beyond lowest cost or best performing investment. Instead, a holistic review of the fund’s fees, performance and other metrics leads to better investment options for the…


Fresh and Healthy Fajitas

Posted On: August 18, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Fresh and Healthy Fajitas Ingredients: 16oz boneless skinless chicken breasts 1red bell pepper, cut into strips 1green bell pepper, cut into strips 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips 1medium red onion, cut into strips 3tbsp lime juice salt and pepper to taste 3 TBSP of fajita seasoning 2tsp olive oil 8reduced-carb whole wheat flour tortillas, or corn tortillas for gluten free Fajita Seasoning: 1 TBSP cornstarch 2 tsp chili powder 1 tsp salt I tsp paprika ½ tsp onion powder ½ tsp garlic powder ¼ tsp cayenne powder ½ tsp ground cumin Instructions: Marinate the chicken with lime juice, and season with fajita seasoning. Season vegetables with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil. Use a large skillet on the stove over medium heat and saute veges, cover with a lid until they are soft, then remove from skillet. Cook chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board…


July Compliance Recap

Posted On: August 5, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

July was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court) upheld the religious exemption and moral exemption final rules to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive mandate. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the indexed 2021 ACA affordability percentage. The President signed a law extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline. The IRS released draft ACA reporting forms for 2020. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) (collectively, the Departments) released proposed rules on grandfathered health plans. A U.S. court of appeals upheld the short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) final rule. HHS published a revised confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records final rule. The IRS issued a private letter ruling on health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) and profit-sharing plan contributions. The IRS also issued an information letter…


Skinny Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Posted On: August 3, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Skinny Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Makes 12-15 cookies    Ingredients: 1 cup quick oats 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons butter, melted 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 large egg 1/2 cup honey 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In one bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Melt the butter in another bowl. Whisk in the vanilla, egg, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to stir. Save about half of the chocolate chips. Use a sharp knife to roughly chop the remaining chocolate, then fold it into the dough. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes, or freeze for 15 minutes. Use your hands to shape the dough into roughly 15 cookies…


Return to Work Training Kit

Posted On: July 29, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

Return to Work Training Kit Bring your employees back to work safely with our “Return to Work Training Kit.” Innovative has developed two training tools that you can use in conjunction with each other to educate your employees on what you are doing in response to COVID-19, understand what they can do, answer any frequently asked questions, and provide resources and who they should communicate with. In this kit, you will find: Training Video - We have developed an animated safety training video that outlines important behavior modifications such as hand washing, social distancing, symptoms, and more. "Welcome Back" PowerPoint Template - Use this 28-page template as a training guide to educate your employees on new policies and procedures. In this editable document, you can easily customize any copy in red to your specific organization. Innovative Benefit Planning is here to walk alongside you during this time. We hope you…


Important Plan Considerations Regarding FSA Mid-Year Changes

Posted On: July 29, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

Important Plan Considerations Regarding FSA Mid-Year Changes As you are aware, in order to provide additional relief to Americans during these challenging times, the IRS released Notice 2020-29 and 2020-33. These notices provided new relaxed rules for 2020 that affected Health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). As a reminder if you have allowed employees to make changes mid year, please be aware of the following: Making Changes to Elections: Enrollees will be unable to elect less than what they have used or contributed, whatever amount is greater. Enrollees who stop their contributions will retain access to funds in their account via their debit card. If any funds are leftover at the end of the year these will be eligible for any applicable grace period or carry over. Important Plan Consideration: Please note reducing future deductions to $0 is different than terminating a member’s plan. An active employee who chooses to “terminate”…


Put Your Advisor to the Test

Posted On: July 27, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Put Your Advisor to the Test Ask these critical questions to test the knowledge of future plan advisors. A knowledgeable plan advisor is an important component in the successful operation of your qualified plan. However, selecting the right candidate requires more than simply reviewing typical Request for Proposal (RFP) responses. RFPs are an important part of the process, but boilerplate questions may draw generalized, high-level responses that reveal few details about a potential advisors’ knowledge. You should make sure the potential advisor possesses broad industry experience and expertise that applies to your unique situation. It only takes a few questions to put them to the test. So, as you consider prospective plan advisors, here are some non-boilerplate questions that you can ask to assess their knowledge. Under what scenario would my plan need a BRF test? Sometimes, plan designs create different benefits for different classes of participants. The BRF (Benefits,…


Caribbean Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Posted On: July 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Caribbean Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple Salsa Ingredients: Cooking spray 1 tablespoon salt-free Caribbean jerk seasoning ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and halved crosswise 4 (½ inch thick) slices of fresh pineapple ¾ cup diced red onion ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced Directions: Step 1: Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Step 2: Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Rub jerk seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly over pork. Add pork to grill; grill 12 to 14 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°, turning occasionally.  Place pork on a platter. Cover with foil; let stand 5  minutes. Cut across the grain into slices. Step 3: Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Arrange pineapple slices on grill; cook 3 minutes on each side or until well-marked. Remove…


Becoming Sun Sensible This Summer

Posted On: July 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Becoming Sun Sensible This Summer According to skincancerprevention.org, every year in the U.S. nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer.  Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is a major risk factor for most skin cancers, so sun safety is extremely important. Skin cancers start when UV rays damage the DNA of genes that control skin cell growth. There are two types of harmful UV rays: UVA rays age skin cells, causing brown spots and wrinkles. They are also thought to play a role in some skin cancers. Remember that tanning beds give off large amounts of UVA rays. UVB rays are the main source of sunburns and are thought to cause most skin cancers. Reduce your risk by limiting your time in the sun, wearing generous amounts of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 (or protective clothing) and avoid tanning salons. To be Sun Sensible you…


June Compliance Recap

Posted On: July 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

June was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the updated patient-centered outcomes research institute (PCORI) fee amount and announced transition relief. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a final rule regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) Section 1557. The President signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020. The Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) (collectively, the Departments), issued additional frequently asked questions (FAQs) on health plan coverage under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter highlighting COVID-19 guidance for non-federal governmental plan sponsors. CMS issued an information bulletin for insurers regarding the 2019 medical loss ratio…


PCORI Fees are Extended an Additional 10 Years

Posted On: June 30, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

PCORI Fees are Extended an Additional 10 Years As a reminder, employers that sponsor certain self-insured health plans are responsible for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees. Fees for plan years that ended in 2019 are due July 31, 2020. Under the Affordable Care Act, PCORI fees were originally scheduled to apply to policy or plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2012 and before Oct. 1, 2019. However, in Dec. 2019, PCORI fees were extended for an additional 10 years. Thus, the fee continues to apply for the 2020-2029 fiscal years. Employers must report and pay the required PCORI fees annually via IRS Form 720. For plan years that ended between Jan. 1, 2019, and Sep. 30, 2019, the fee is $2.45 multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan. On June 8, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-44, which increases the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee amount for plan years…


Judge Rules for HHS in Price Transparency Case

Posted On: June 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

Judge Rules for HHS in Price Transparency Case

Judge Rules for HHS in Price Transparency Case A federal judge ruled against the American Hospital Association (AHA) on Tuesday in its lawsuit attempting to block an HHS rule pushing for price transparency. The judge ruled in favor of the department, which requires hospitals to reveal private, negotiated rates with insurers beginning Jan. 1.  The AHA stated they are requesting an expedited review as they are concerned with the significant burden this will place on hospitals when resources are already stretched thin as a result of the pandemic and increased patient care needed.  Click here to read the full brief.  


DOL Launches Online Tool to Help Employees Determine FFCRA Eligibility

Posted On: June 25, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

man reading families first coronavirus response act

DOL Launches Online Tool to Help Employees Determine FFCRA Eligibility The U.S. Department of Labor launched an interactive online tool to help workers determine if they qualify for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave to cover time away from work for reasons related to the coronavirus. The tool guides employees through a series of questions to help them determine if the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) apply to their employer. If the provisions do apply, the tool helps them learn whether they qualify for either paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave under that law.


Barbecue Lime Shrimp and Corn Recipe

Posted On: June 11, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Barbecue Lime Shrimp and Corn Recipe Ingredients: 1/3 Cup of fresh lime juice 1/4 Cup of fresh orange juice 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce 2 Tbsp honey 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 tsp grated, peeled fresh ginger 1 Tbsp sugar 1 tsp ground coriander seeds 1/4 tsp black pepper 2 ears of corn cut into 4 pieces 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined 4 Cups cooked couscous   Directions:  Combine the first 9 ingredients in a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag, add raw, cleaned shrimp and corn pieces to marinate (approximately 30 minutes). While the shrimp and corn marinate, prepare couscous according to package directions and set aside. When finished marinating, place lime mixture, corn, and shrimp in foil and seal along the edges. Place foil packet on grille and cook 10 minutes. Serve over couscous.  


May Compliance Recap

Posted On: June 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

May was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued IRS Notice 2020-29 that provides increased flexibility for making mid-year elections or changes under a Section 125 cafeteria plan during calendar year 2020 and provides increased flexibility to apply unused amounts in health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to medical care expenses. The IRS also issued IRS Notice 2020-33 that increases the limit for unused health FSA carryover amounts and clarifies the ability of a health plan to reimburse individual insurance policy premium expenses incurred prior to the beginning of the plan year for coverage provided during the plan year. The Department of Labor (DOL) released updated Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) model notices and frequently asked questions (FAQs) providing general information on the updated model notices. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a bulletin noting it will adopt…


President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act

Posted On: June 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

President Trump signs paycheck protection flexibility act

President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act The President authorized the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act on June 5th after it was passed by the House on May 28th with only one dissenting vote and passed unanimously by the Senate on June 3rd.  This act changes provisions surrounding loan forgiveness through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Highlights of this act include changing the time recipients have to spend their PPP loan proceeds, decreasing the amount that needs to be spent on payroll for forgiveness, extending worker and wage deadlines, and more. Below are major details of the act that employers who have received PPP loans may find pertinent: The amount of time PPP Loan recipients have to spend their loan is increasing to 24 weeks from 8 weeks. If they choose to, employers can keep the 8 week period. The PPP provisions previously required 75 percent of the loan to be…



Rotisserie Chicken Tacos with Salsa Verde

Posted On: May 20, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

chicken tacos

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos with Salsa Verde Ingredients:  8 Corn Tortillas 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (skin removed) 1 1/2 cups bottled salsa verde 2 limes, quartered 1/2 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese 1 medium onion 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro Directions:  Heat the tortillas in a large skillet or sauté pan until lightly toasted. Combine the chicken with the salsa in a large mixing bowl, then divide evenly among the tortillas. Top with crumbled cheese, onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. Nutrition: 345 calories, 12 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 800 mg sodium, serves 4


COVID-19 Impact on Retirement Plan Discrimination Testing

Posted On: May 20, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

retirement plan binder with glasses

COVID-19 Impact on Retirement Plan Discrimination Testing As a result of COVID-19, many employers have made financial, operational, and employment-related changes. Plan sponsors need to consider how the following actions may impact the results of their 2020 retirement plan discrimination testing: Changing or Discontinuing the employer 401K match Retirement plan design changes Furloughing, laying off, or termination of employees Employee deferral changes, including the discontinuation of deferrals If your organization has taken any of these actions or notice a change in participant behavior, we suggest you take a proactive approach to understand the impact on your non-discrimination testing. It is important to get a better understanding NOW of how any of these changes may negatively impact your retirement plan as corrective actions may be available prior to your plan year end. If would like a complimentary Retirement Plan Impact Analysis, please click here.  


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