News and Analysis
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), beginning in 2014, many individuals and families will be eligible to receive subsidized coverage in an “exchange” if they are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program and are not offered "affordable" coverage through their employer.
The UC Berkley Labor Center has created a simple calculator that projects premiums.
OMA is planning member webinars this summer to help small (generally fewer than 50 employees) and large (generally 50 or more employees) employers understand the ACA compliance requirements and employee benefit strategy considerations.
This week the Columbus Dispatch reported that the Ohio Hospital Association is considering undertaking actions to push for a constitutional amendment that would - if passed - require Ohio to expand Medicaid eligibility.
Because of time constraints it would be nearly impossible to pass the signature requirements to reach the ballot this fall.
That means a possible Medicaid expansion provision could be on a crowded ballot in 2014, with the governor’s and other statewide races, and potentially right-to-work and medical marijuana issues.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) achieved a victory this week when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) “poster rule,” which would require employers to hang posters informing employees of their right to organize and strike.
NAM President Jay Timmons said: “This decision confirms that manufacturers can’t be forced by a rogue government agency to use their facilities to present a one-sided view of complex labor issues.”
Read the NAM release.
Last week Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) reintroduced the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act. The bill pushes to make federal job training programs more responsive to the needs of the 21st century job market.
The OMA issued this letter in support of the legislation. The bill would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal job training, without decreasing services or accessibility to services.
Ohio manufacturing would benefit from a coordinated workforce training effort at both the federal and state levels.
Last week, the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee passed H.R. 1406, the “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” This bill would permit private employers to provide employees the option to receive compensatory time off, or pay for overtime worked. Currently, only public sector employees are afforded this option. The option would be completely voluntary on the part of the employer and the employee.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) signed onto a letter of support for the bill with other business organizations. The bill will proceed to a House floor vote in the coming weeks. We'll keep you posted.
The Ohio Senate passed House Bill 3 (Rep. Barbara Sears, R–Monclova Township), which regulates health insurance “navigators,” a new job created by the federal Affordable Care Act. There apparently will be thousands of these navigators across America when the federal health care exchanges are up and running.
Navigators are supposed to help consumers who don't get insurance through their workplaces compare options in the new health care exchanges, similar to the role traditional insurance agents play. The navigators cannot pick out insurance plans for consumers and cannot be paid by insurance companies.
The Sears bill provides for the certification of insurance navigators, enables a licensed insurance agent to sell health benefit plans offered through an exchange and prescribes associated requirements, and specifies that an insurance navigator is prohibited from engaging in the act of selling insurance.
Separately, U.S. House GOP members are asking questions about the $54 million the Obama administration proposes to spend to hire navigators. The grants are to go to community groups in 33 states to help people sign up for insurance in the new online health insurance marketplaces that open for enrollment October 1.
This week Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) announced that the Senate would not be addressing Medicaid expansion within the state budget (House Bill 59).
Instead, he told reporters that he supports the House efforts to find alternative plans for Medicaid. He announced that the Senate would begin working with the House to devise a new plan for Medicaid, with a focus on reforming the massive program within the state.
Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville) will be spearheading the Senate’s efforts on the issue.
Proponents of the a constitutional amendment to make Ohio a “right to work” state have reportedly collected about a quarter of the signatures needed to place this issue before voters.
Noting that the deadline for signature collection for the 2013 November ballot is approaching, petitioner Chris Littleton was quoted in the Wooster Daily Record saying, “…we’ll hustle through spring and summer and see if we can. But if not, we’ll put it in 2014.”
OMA Connections Partner, GBQ Partners, gives us a quick Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules update, including: The mandatory wait period for offering employee coverage is set at a maximum of 90 days beginning in 2014, and small employers will not have the choice of market options previously expected until 2015.
A reminder: Employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees will need to comply with the employer shared-responsibility mandate in 2014; this is the requirement that such employers pay for their employees’ health insurance or pay a penalty. Calculating employee numbers begins this year, 2013.
The Ohio Senate this week passed Senate Bill 1, the Republican caucus’ lead job training measure. The bill would create a revolving loan fund to offer loans to students to help pay for job training costs. Sponsored by Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City), the measure would distribute the loan funding through public and private colleges, universities, and career centers.
The bill is funded by $25 million in casino fee revenue. You can read the bill analysis here.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) both present challenges to employers on a daily basis. Because of the complexity of these laws, companies are vulnerable to abuse and miscomprehension by employees, as well as inaccurate application by supervisors and managers. Dealing with these issues can be difficult, particularly when long-term and intermittent leave are involved.
In a one-hour webinar on Tuesday, April 16, OMA Connections Partner, Jackson Lewis, will present an analysis of the recently amended FMLA regulations, tactics for curbing intermittent leave abuse, and more advice for human resources managers and supervisors.
Finance Committee Chairman Ron Amstutz (R - Wooster) unveiled the House Republican version of the biennial budget for primary and secondary schools. The caucus redistributes revenue in a way that produces some big swings (from the governor's proposed formula) in funding for many districts.
The House Republican budget released this week increases funding for co-op and internship programs to $8 million per fiscal year. That’s up $6 million in the second year of the biennium. Not a lot of money, but an improvement.
The bill earmarks $75,000 per year for each of the following: Ohio University's Voinovich School, The Ohio State University's John Glenn School of Public Policy, the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, the Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs at Miami University, the Washington Center Internship Program, the Ohio Center for the Advancement of Women in Public Service at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, the University of Cincinnati Internship Program, the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green University, and the Institute for Defense Studies at Wright State University.
As a drug-testing employer, you might wonder how can you legally and appropriately test for prescription drug abuse. Here’s a quick-read summary. From OMA Connections Partner, Working Partners ®
This week the Ohio Senate voted 32 - 1 to pass Senate Bill 25 (Peterson, R - Sabina, LaRose, R - Copley Township), Ohio’s "shared work" bill. This legislation enables employers to reduce workers' hours, and allows the workers to collect a pro-rated share of unemployment compensation, while maintaining their employee benefits.
The Ohio House version of the bill, House Bill 37, was reported out of the House Commerce, Labor and Technology Committee on Wednesday. It will be going to a full House floor vote in the near future.
OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress, advises that on March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a newly revised Employment Eligibility Verification form, Form I-9. The revised Form I-9 makes several improvements designed to minimize errors in form completion.
Employers are required to begin using the new Form I-9 immediately to verify the identity and employment authorization eligibility of new employees. However, USCIS is providing employers 60 days – until May 7, 2013 - to comply. After May 7, employers who fail to use the new Form I may be subject to fines and penalties.
Employers do not need to complete the new Form I-9 for current employees for whom there is already a properly completed Form I-9 on file, unless re-verification applies.
Download the new Form I-9, related instructions, and information or order forms by calling (800) 870-3676.
For an overview of what is considered a "large" employer (generally, 50 employees) for the purposes of certain Affordable Care Act requirements, including how to count employees, and what penalties could potentially be imposed, consider watching this new recorded webinar, Health Care Reform: What You Need to Know Now about Compliance. The subject matter expert is Lisa deFilippis, attorney with OMA Connections Partner, Jackson Lewis.
In the torturous complexity of the Affordable Care Act is something called “shared responsibility.” It’ll cost Ohio employers $58 to $88 million a year if the state does not expand Medicaid to individuals at up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL), according to a study released this week by Jackson Hewitt.
“If a state foregoes the Medicaid expansion, then eligible employees between 100-138% FPL may enroll in the premium assistance tax credits. In such circumstances, their employers will face liabilities for the “shared responsibility” tax penalties,” says the firm.
OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress, advises that certain employers will be subject to a new annual fee under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA established the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (the PCORI), which engages in comparative clinical research to be used by patients, physicians, consumers and others to make informed health decisions. The work of the PCORI is to be funded by a fee imposed upon the sponsors of self-funded plans and issuers of individual and group health insurance policies.
The obligation for such entities to pay the fee begins in 2013 and, currently, phases out in 2019. An employer or issuer must report and pay this fee via IRS Form 720 by July 31 of each year. That means, for calendar year plans and policies, the first payment will be due July 31, 2013. If an employer is covered by a fully insured product, that employer should be verifying with the carrier that the carrier is paying that fee.
The U.S. Department of Labor amended Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations go into effect March 8. 2013. To help employers better understand these regulatory changes, OMA Connections Partner, Jackson Lewis, has prepared this side-by-side comparison of the current FMLA regulations adopted in 2008 and the 2013 amended regulations.
The document also contains Jackson Lewis’ recommendations to address these regulatory changes. Not all recommendations will be applicable to all employers.
OMA, together with Jackson Lewis, will hold a one-hour webinar about the FMLA as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act on April 16. Watch your inbox and OMA’s event calendar for more information a bit later this month.
According to OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has indicated that Form I-9 audits of employers increased from 250 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 3,000 in fiscal year 2012. And, the total amount of fines assessed has grown to nearly $13 million in fiscal year 2012 from $1 million in fiscal year 2009. Furthermore, the number of company managers arrested as part of criminal investigations resulting from Form I-9 audits has increased.
Therefore, while we wait for whatever immigration reform may be enacted, Roetzel offers a good summary of immigration compliance best practices as a way to protect your company now and prepare for potential new compliance requirements.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) brings to our attention a case currently before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which would affect how employees can exercise their “Beck” rights to object to union dues’ expenditures.
“Beck” refers to this U.S. Supreme Court decision: employees can object to a portion of union dues’ expenditures if the dues are being used to fund political activity not related to collective bargaining or contract administration.
However, in a recent case, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital) and Jeanette Geary, the NLRB decided an employee who objected to the union’s expenditures did not deserve to have any verification showing proof how the union was spending its funds.
The NLRB also is proposing to give unions the upper hand presuming the union is, indeed, spending all the dues correctly. In effect, the employee will have to prove the union is spending money on lobbying and political activity with no means of independently verifying the union claims.
NAM filed amicus comments to the NLRB.
According to OMA Connections Partner, GBQ, the first question an employer needs to resolve is whether or not it has enough employees to be subject to the "shared responsibility" (commonly, pay-or-play) requirement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The simple definition - employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent workers - doesn't provide the full answer. For example, "full-time equivalent" includes employees who average 30 (not 40) hours per week.
The time period during which employers will calculate their number of employees for this requirement is the prior year. That is, 2013, for the purpose of determining whether the mandate applies in 2014. Read more.
On Thursday, March 14, OMA offers a one-hour webinar in conjunction with its Connections Partner, Jackson Lewis, to offer guidance on the employer shared responsibility requirement and other aspects of the ACA. Login to register.
In a 2010 survey, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) members chose “creating a market based system to attract talent” as the most important goal of immigration reform.
NAM has compiled all of its immigration reform policy goals – including promoting a legal workforce, not displacing American workers, and shielding employers from undue liability - in this fact sheet.
Use NAM’s Manufacturing Works tools to tell your members of Congress what this issue means to your business.
Last week Tracy Intihar, the governor’s Director of the Office of Workforce Transformation, testified before the House Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee on House Bills 1 and 2. She provided an update on the work of the office and its efforts to improve Ohio’s workforce development system.
Separately, Tracy is working with the OMA and has invited manufacturers' input into developing meaningful workforce development improvements.
Representatives Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) and Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) presented sponsor testimony this week on House Bill 37 (see also, bill analysis), a proposal the OMA supports as a prudent alternative to layoffs.
In lieu of laying off workers, employers can reduce workers' hours, and under this proposal, those workers would be able to collect a pro rated share of unemployment compensation, while still maintaining their employee benefits. It protects employers from losing their experienced and skilled workers to the marketplace during a time of economic strain.
OMA members have experienced positive outcomes in other states that have passed comparable legislation. The Ohio House passed this legislation in the last General Assembly, but the bill stalled in the Senate in lame duck.
The U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule that implements and interprets two statutory expansions of FMLA protections. OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress, has summarized how the final rule relates to the military family leave provisions.
OMA Connections Partner, Plante Moran, has prepared this summary of the IRS proposed regulations relative to the large employer shared responsibility provisions, sometimes referred to as “play or pay,” of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
An employer is a “large” employer if it employs at least 50 full-time employees, or a combination of full-time and part-time employees who are “equivalent” to at least 50 full-time employees.
The regulations further define large employers that are subject to the shared responsibility provisions, outline the requirements of a qualified health plan (QHP), and explain the penalties applicable to large employers that fail to offer a QHP to their full-time employees.
According to this Employment Services Alert from OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress, the Department of Labor (DOL) has postponed the deadline for employers to provide their employees with written notice informing them of the existence of state-based health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The act originally required employers to provide the notice to current employees beginning March 1, 2013, and each employee at the time of hiring thereafter. However, the DOL delayed enforcement of the notice requirement until the exchanges are up and running, presumably later this year.
OMA Connections Partner, Bricker &: Eckler, has written this memorandum summarizing the recently issued regulations by the federal Department of Health and Human Services which provide guidance on the health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Beginning in January 1, 2014, all non-grandfathered plans must (i) be equal in scope to the benefits covered by a typical employer plan, (ii) cover all ten general categories of essential health benefits (EHB), (iii) satisfy specific cost-sharing limits, and (iv) provide a specific level of coverage based on actuarial value.
The National Skills Coalition and the National Governors Association released a report on state “sector strategies” (specific industry focused programs) for workforce development.
The report “offers a snapshot of sector strategies today, an overview of what makes them different from traditional workforce and economic development programs and a description of actions that state administrators and policymakers can take as part of a policy framework to support the strategies’ creation and effective operation.”
Manufacturers engaged with workforce development initiatives will find the report’s national scan useful.
A study by the publication “Education Week” ranks Ohio 12th in the nation, down from 11th place last year, 10th place in 2011, and fifth place in 2010. Ohio’s 2013 score of 79.6%, a B-minus, is up from last year’s 79.5%.
Ohio outperforms the nation in the study. The national average is 76.9%, a C-plus.
Ohio ranked high in standards, assessment and accountability, but low on disparity in spending across districts in the state and in the difference in per-pupil spending levels.
Ohio's Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program designed to provide direct financial assistance to train workers began accepting employer applications on Monday, January 7 at 10:00 a.m. and was over-subscribed by Tuesday.
The Marion Star reported that there were 400 requests for training vouchers received, requesting $21.4 million, exceeding the $19.4 million set aside for the first year.
A spokesperson for the program encouraged businesses to continue to apply online because some applicants might not meet the voucher’s requirements.
Governor Kasich announced that Ohio will mandate autism therapy treatments for state employee health plans and for private insurers in 2014. The administration made the decision in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that states determine covered services in their Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans which were due December 26. The coverage for private insurers will take effect in 2014 along with other aspects of the ACA.
This new mandate will cover 20 hours of applied behavior analysis weekly, 20 visits per year for speech and language therapy, 20 visits per year for occupational therapy and 30 visits per year for mental/behavioral health outpatient services performed by a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician.
OMA provides free up-to-date reproducible forms to assist your human resource department, managers and supervisors. These forms comply with federal and Ohio laws and have been reviewed by OMA counsel, Bricker & Eckler LLP, for compliance as recently as November 2012.
The reproducible forms offered: Application for Employment, Health Questionnaire/Physical Condition, Absentee Calendar/Bi-monthly Absence Review, and Vacation Schedule. State & federal posting requirements are also available. Note that you should now be posting the 2013 Ohio Minimum Wage poster reflecting the increase that was effective January 1, 2013. See source key A to source your new poster.)
Please read the special instructions to employers to protect your company when using these forms.
The Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program will provide direct financial assistance to train workers in order to improve the economic competitiveness of Ohio’s employers; the program will begin accepting employer applications on January 7 at 10:00 a.m. at this site, which will become active then: https://development.ohio.gov/
The voucher program will offset a portion of the employer’s costs to upgrade the skills of its incumbent workforce and will provide reimbursement to eligible employers for specific training costs accrued during training. The program is focussed on ten targeted industries including: advanced manufacturing, aerospace and aviation, automotive, bio-health, corporate headquarters, energy, food processing, information technology, and polymer/chemicals.
The funding is first come, first served. The caps on the program funding will be $500,000 per eligible company and/or $4,000 per eligible employee, with a reimbursement rate of up to 50%; all training must begin and be completed between February 4, 2013 and June 30, 2013.
Eligible employers must demonstrate that by receiving funding assistance through the program that their business will not only obtain a skilled workforce but will improve their company processes and competitiveness.