Matt Hollister No Comments

Rate for Tipped Employees Rises to $7.25 Per Hour

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that the minimum wage for workers performing work on or in connection with certain federal contracts will rise to $10.35 per hour ($7.25 per hour for covered tipped employees) beginning January 1, 2018.

Background 
Executive Order 13658 established a minimum wage requirement for federal contractors and subcontractors. The Order applies to four major categories of contractual agreements:

  • Procurement contracts for construction covered by the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA);
  • Service contracts covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA);
  • Concessions contracts, including any concessions contract excluded from the SCA by DOL regulations; and
  • Contracts in connection with federal property or lands and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public.

Note: Certain workers are excluded from coverage under Executive Order 13658. Click here for more information.

Click here to read the DOL announcement.

Our Compliance Assistance for Federal Contractors section features helpful resources for federal contractors and subcontractors.

Matt Hollister No Comments

New employer penalty for employees covered by Medicaid and subsidized health plans

Last month, on August 1st, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law S. 3822<https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3822> “An Act Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care.”  This new law which will take effect in 2018 will apply to all employers with 6 or more employees residing in Massachusetts.  It imposes a penalty of up to $750 for each active employee who is enrolled in either Mass Health or who receives subsidized coverage through the Mass Health Connector.  In addition, it raises the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (“EMAC”) from it’s current annual maximum fee of $51/worker up to $77/worker.

This change is a temporary increase in fees and penalties to help offset the approximately $300 million budget deficit faced by the state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP).  Together the increased EMAC fee and penalty are expected to generate approximately $200 million, far less than what is needed to fix the shortfall.  Other proposals, including limiting the eligibility rules for MassHealth to restrict people who have coverage available through their employer were considered but not adopted.  As this will not solve the Medicaid budget deficit, we expect that the legislature will look to other areas for cost control in the future.  The additional fee and penalty will apply for two years, ending on December 31st, 2019.

Both the EMAC fee and the penalty are going to follow Mass unemployment insurance contributions, and the assessments are likely to be paid through the Department of Unemployment Assistance.  The EMAC will be based on .51% of wages up to $15,000, while the penalty (only for those workers covered by either Medicaid or a subsidized Health Connector plan) will be assessed 5.00% up to $15,000 in wages.  Based on the wage caps that could result in fees of $77 and $750 per worker, respectvely.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Matt Hollister, L.I.A., M.P.H.

Matt Hollister No Comments

Reminder: Medicare Part D Notice Due Before October 15

In preparation for the Medicare fall open enrollment period, employers sponsoring group health plans that include prescription drug coverage are required to notify all Medicare-eligible individuals whether such coverage is creditable (i.e., that the coverage is expected to pay, on average, as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage).

Written Disclosure to Individuals
This written disclosure notice must be provided annually, prior toOctober 15, and at various other times as required under the law, to the following individuals:

  • Medicare-eligible active working individuals and their dependents;
  • Medicare-eligible COBRA individuals and their dependents;
  • Medicare-eligible disabled individuals covered under an employer’s prescription drug plan; and
  • Any retirees and their dependents.

Model notices are available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Online Disclosure to CMS Also Required 
Additionally, employers are required to complete an online disclosure to CMS to report the creditable coverage status of their prescription drug plans. This disclosure is also required annually, no later than 60 days from the beginning of a plan year, and at certain other times.

Visit our section on Medicare for more information about how the law affects employer-provided group health plans.