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Healthcare Reform Archives

EEOC Challenges Wellness Programs

Many employers are implementing wellness programs associated with providing employees health insurance. The EEOC is concerned about wellness programs and has filed at least two complaints this year alleging that an employer's wellness program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Failure to Provide COBRA Notice Results in Penalties Even When Employer Pays the Bills

Regina Honey was pregnant with her second child and experiencing pre-term labor. Her doctor ordered bed rest for about two weeks. When Ms. Honey was ready to return to work at Dignity Health, she was told her employment was terminated. About two months later she was reinstated. However, the pre-term labor returned and her doctor ordered bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. Ms. Honey remained on bed rest until her son was born in July 2010.

The Supreme Court Narrows Affordable Care Act Contraception Mandate

The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover "preventive services" at no cost to participants. The federal government has identified 20 forms of contraception that are required to be included as part of preventive services. Various "for-profit" companies have challenged ACA's birth control coverage requirement in about 50 lawsuits now pending across the country. Many of these employers are family owned, closely held or controlled companies whose owners object to the provision of contraceptive coverage on faith-based grounds.

Federal Government Delays ACA Employer Mandate

The federal government recently issued final regulations that apply to the "employer mandate" or "play or pay" provisions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These provisions require employers with 50 or more employees to offer full-time employees (and their dependents) the opportunity to enroll in an adequate and affordable employer-sponsored health plan or pay a penalty. Last year, the government postponed enforcement of the new mandate until 2015. Now, the government has provided a further delay for employers with 50 to 99 employees and modified for one-year the coverage requirement that applies to employers with 100 or more employees:

Supreme Court Will Hear Religious Freedom Cases

The Supreme Court agreed on November 26, 2013 to hear the religious challenges of Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. to the contraceptive coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act. While not on the Supreme Court website calendar yet, the latest information indicates the cases will be heard in March. The Court has consolidated the two cases and scheduled only one hour of argument for both cases.

Ohio Approves Medicaid Expansion Under Affordable Care Act

The Controlling Board, a state legislative panel which oversees spending federal funds, voted October 21, 2013 to accept $2.56 billion from the federal government to extend Medicaid coverage to approximately 300,000 low income Ohioans. The expansion would allow, among others, childless adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level (approximately $16,000 for one person ) to be eligible for health care under Medicaid.

Supreme Court Asked to Decide If Corporations Have Religious Freedom

As discussed in an earlier blog post, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") created a controversy about whether for-profit corporations have religious freedom. The issue concerns the requirement under ACA that health insurance sufficient to avoid penalties must include coverage for certain forms of birth control. Businesses closely held by families with strong religious convictions are objecting to this requirement as an infringement of religious freedom.

Do For-Profit Corporations Have Religious Freedom?

A provision under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has raised the question of whether for-profit corporations have religious freedom. The ACA through guidelines from the Health Resources and Services Administration requires that non-grandfathered group health plans and individual health insurance cover, without cost to the individual, all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The FDA-approved methods include contraception known as the "morning-after pill" and the "week-after pill", which the FDA has acknowledged can terminate pregnancy after conception. While exemptions for contraception coverage have been made for religious non-profit corporations, no exemptions are available to for-profit corporations.