10th Circ. Refuses to Compel Individual Arbitration of ESOP Suit

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal from Envision Management Holding and employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) trustee Argent Trust Co., seeking to compel arbitration of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) lawsuit. The court found that an agreement in the ESOP plan documents directly contradicted plan participants’ remedies under ERISA, which triggered the effective Read More

White House Announces Intention to End COVID-19 National Emergency and Public Health Emergency Declarations in May

The Trump administration declared both a COVID-19 national emergency and a public health emergency (PHE) in 2020. The national emergency is set to expire on March 1, 2023, and the PHE is set to expire on April 11, 2023. The Biden administration now has issued a statement of administrative policy stating its intention to extend both emergencies and end them on May 11, 2023. Its announcement is consistent with its Read More

2nd Circ. Panel Considers ERISA Arbitration Request in Light of Viking River

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit panel recently heard oral arguments over whether a proposed class action concerning alleged overcharges to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) should go to individual arbitration. ESOP plan trustee Argent Trust Co., employer Strategic Financial Solutions, and other executives and financial services companies appealed after a federal district court judge denied their Read More

DOL Provides Snapshot of ERISA Enforcement Statistics for Fiscal Year 2022

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)'s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has released a fact sheet concerning its ERISA enforcement results for FY 2022. EBSA oversees 747,000 retirement plans, 2.5 million health plans, and 673,000 other welfare benefit plans, covering more than 152 million workers, retirees, and dependents. During FY 2022, EBSA recovered over $1.4 billion for plans, participants, and Read More

States Sue to Block DOL’s Rule Allowing Fiduciaries to Consider ESG Factors in Choosing Investments

Twenty-five states have filed to block the implementation of a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rule that allows fiduciaries to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in choosing retirement investments. The states argue that the DOL rule conflicts with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which requires fiduciaries to consider financial benefits first, not nonfinancial and Read More

Federal Agencies Propose Recission of ACA Moral Exemption Rule

Three federal agencies - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Treasury Department, and the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) – jointly published proposed rules that would rescind the “moral exemption rule” concerning Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage of contraception. In 2018, the Trump administration enacted the policy, and the U.S. Supreme Court Read More

DOL, HHS, and IRS Issue Report Showing High Demand for Surprise Billing IDR Process

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have issued an initial joint report on the Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) process containing two quarters of data from April 15 to September 30, 2022. Issuance of this report was delayed by the unexpectedly large volume of disputes submitted through the IDR portal, which required significant manual processing Read More

Court Holds That Health Insurer’s TPA Activities Are Subject to ACA Section 1557

An Illinois federal judge has ruled that an insurer that acted as a third-party claims administrator (TPA) for self-insured health plans violated Section 557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by excluding coverage for gender-affirming care. In C.P. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ill., 2022 WL 17788148 (W.D. Wash. 2022), a class action lawsuit filed by a transgender individual and his parent, the judge found that the Read More

DOL Updates Civil Penalty Amounts for 2023

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued its 2023 annual updates to various civil monetary penalties that it imposes for benefit-related violations. The 2023 adjusted penalty amounts are effective for penalties assessed after January 15, 2023, and they apply to violations after November 2, 2015. The following summarizes some updated DOL penalty amounts for failing to comply with various DOL rules and Read More

Proposed IRS Regulations Would Permanently Allow Remote Spousal Consent Elections

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a proposed rule on December 27, 2022, that would permanently allow remote witnessing of spousal consent elections under certain circumstances. The proposed rule would go into effect six months after publication in the Federal Register. Taxpayers can continue to make remote spousal consent elections according to the proposed rule until it formally goes into Read More