Beth Alcalde

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A noted employee benefits lawyer, author, and speaker, Beth Alcalde represents Fortune 500 companies and other public and private entities, including those in the hospitality, healthcare, and higher education sectors, throughout the United States. As a leader within the firm, Beth is a longtime member of Akerman’s Board of Directors, and is also a current member of Akerman’s Executive Committee. Previously she chaired the firm’s Professional Development Committee, and served as office managing partner of the firm’s Palm Beach County offices. Noted in Chambers USA as “terrific at coming up with imaginative solutions,” Beth provides counsel on employer-sponsored benefit plans, from compliance with ERISA, the Affordable Care Act, and other federal regulations, to internal audits and benefits-related implications of corporate transactions. She assists clients in defending and responding to audits conducted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Of particular emphasis, Beth has represented group health plan sponsors in responding to audits of the quantitative and non-quantitative treatment limitations within their plans, as required by the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

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Attention, Group Health Plans: New HIPAA Privacy Rule Governing Reproductive Health Care Information Imposes Obligations, Deadlines

It is critical for employers and plan fiduciaries/administrators to stay informed of HIPAA privacy and security-related legal developments because most employer sponsored group health plans — regardless of the employer’s industry or size — are considered covered entities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Therefore, individually identifiable medical information that … Continue Reading

On the Basis of Sex…Discrimination in Group Health Plans and What Employers Should Know

In just a few days’ time, recently promulgated federal final rules addressing sex-based nondiscrimination in the administration of health care benefits have created a flurry of healthcare industry activity. The angst arises from providers, payers, and certain health plans alike. While the spotlight shines brightest on healthcare providers and health insurers, the focus of this … Continue Reading

Biden Administration Signals MHPAEA Enforcement a Priority with Fiscal 2023 Budget

The Biden Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 serves as a warning to all plan issuers and administrators that enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) is a top priority for the federal government. The proposed budget reflects a substantial and sustained commitment to ramp up enforcement efforts, with specific … Continue Reading

Should You Consider Offering Cheaper Health Plan Coverage in 2022 for Vaccinated Employees?

If you still have unvaccinated workers in January, might you provide a financial incentive for employees to be vaccinated, by charging them higher healthcare insurance premiums? That is the question facing exhausted but dedicated corporate Human Resources leaders as they approach annual open enrollment season, in which employees are asked to lock in their 2022 … Continue Reading

Group Health Plan Sponsors are Getting Serious About Pricing Transparency – Are You Keeping Up?

In early July, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (Labor), and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) (collectively, the Departments), along with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released an interim final rule related to the No Surprises Act, legislation designed to protect patients from unexpected medical bills. The … Continue Reading

The CARES Act Impacts to Employer-Sponsored Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

Health and welfare benefit plans and insurers are affected by various provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed on March 27, 2020. In addition to provisions impacting tax-qualified retirement plans and executive compensation (summarized here), the CARES Act affects coverage of diagnostic testing, preventive services, telehealth services, and drug reimbursement. … Continue Reading

Hackers Raise the Stakes By Possibly Causing Physical Harm

Computer hacking, and the permutation of crimes that can be committed by hackers, generally does not spur images of infliction of physical harm. However, in a chilling turn of events, computer hackers have opened a new front in the damage that can be inflicted through cybercrime. In a nefarious series of developments, cyber-liabilities now arise … Continue Reading

New Year, New Wellness Program Rules

Employers with established wellness programs that collect health information and/or require a medical exam can no longer rely on the EEOC regulations to justify that incentives provided under their wellness programs are voluntary. On December 20, the EEOC published a final rule (83 Fed. Reg. 65296) vacating the rules that allowed employers to offer those … Continue Reading

ERISA Exemption Upheld for Religious-Affiliated Hospitals

Hospitals that are “church-affiliated” may be breathing easier this week, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday that defined benefit qualified retirement plans (a/k/a pension plans) are not subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Supreme Court confirmed that ERISA does not require an exempt “church plan” to have actually been established … Continue Reading

House Republican Health Care Bill: Good News for Health Insurance Executives

An Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that is often-overlooked by the media, but has impacted the ability of insurers and their non-insurance related entities, in their role as employers, to take tax deductions for certain compensation paid to their highly paid employees may be ending at the end of the year. If passed, the House … Continue Reading

Wellness Programs May Need a Check-Up Following Recent EEOC Guidance

Many employers offer some type of “wellness program” to their employees as a way to improve employee health and reduce healthcare spending. Wellness programs can be called many different things, including “weight loss challenges” or “healthy employee programs”. Recently, there were new rules issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the way … Continue Reading

Extension of ACA Reporting Deadline is Welcome News to Employers

On December 28, 2015, the IRS announced in Notice 2016-4 that the deadlines for complying with the new reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) will be temporarily extended for purposes of 2015 coverage. The original and updated deadlines are provided below: Deadline for Providing the Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to Individuals Original Deadline: … Continue Reading

Preparing for the Approaching ACA Reporting Deadlines

With ACA reporting deadlines quickly approaching, many employers should be preparing to address the various reporting requirements in order to avoid the significant fines and penalties associated with non-compliance. As of January 2016, employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees (Applicable Large Employers or ALEs) will be subject to several complex … Continue Reading

ACA Issues for Employers to Stay Aware of in 2015

With the Affordable Care Act’s Employer Mandate (Pay-or-Play penalties) now officially in effect, employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time-equivalent employees should have already made all significant changes to their benefit programs necessary to ensure that they offer “minimum essential” and “affordable” coverage to their full-time employees to avoid penalties in 2015. However, there … Continue Reading

Self-Insured Group Health Plans: Two Deadlines to Note

As 2014 winds down, plan sponsors are likely thinking ahead to some of the significant changes that will take effect in 2015, most notably, the employer “pay or play” mandate under the ACA. However, there are two deadlines that plan sponsors of self-insured group health plans should be aware of. November 5, 2014 – Health … Continue Reading

IRS Disallows Shifting Employee Health Coverage Burden to Exchanges

Certain employers hoped that they had discovered a way to “have their cake and eat it too”. In response to the looming employer mandate for employers with 50 or more employees – the requirement to offer full – time employees group health plan coverage or else face penalties under the Affordable Care Act, – some … Continue Reading

ACA Temporary Reinsurance Fees – Clues from HHS Guidance of October 30, 2013

What is the “temporary reinsurance fee”?  The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) requires the creation of a transitional reinsurance program for the first three years (2014-2016) of the state health insurance exchanges to help stabilize the exchange premiums.  It is intended to shift the risk of covering certain catastrophic medical expenses from the primary insurer to … Continue Reading

Health Flexible Spending Accounts – Modification of “Use It or Lose It” Rule

Many employers offer health flexible spending account arrangements (“Health FSAs”) through cafeteria plans to their employees.  Historically, Health FSAs have been subject to a “use it or lose it” requirement, meaning that any unused amounts in a Health FSA at the conclusion of a plan year or at the conclusion of a grace period (if … Continue Reading

Avoiding ACA Fraud: Proving Individual Eligibility for Tax Subsidies Available Through Insurance Exchanges in 2014 and Beyond

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), certain low- and moderate-income people will qualify for health insurance tax credits beginning in 2014.  The tax credits will be jointly administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the insurance exchanges.  The first open-enrollment period for the exchanges, and thus … Continue Reading

Affordable Care Act Update: Pay or Play Delay, and What Does it Say Today?

Late Tuesday afternoon, July 2, 2013, the federal government issued a statement through the US Department of the Treasury, announcing that the controversial employer shared responsibility provisions, coined the ‘pay or play’ provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been delayed for one year.  This pushes the enforcement date of this provision from January … Continue Reading

ACA Cap on Deductibility of Compensation to Health Insurance Carriers’ Executives May Have Broad Tax Impacts

Health insurance carriers are keenly aware of many provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). But an often-overlooked ACA provision may actually impact the ability of these insurers and their non-insurance related entities, in their role as sophisticated employers, to take tax deductions for certain compensation paid to their executives.  This change … Continue Reading

Employers Receive Sample Exchange Notice and Face October 1 Deadline to Send to Employees

Employers have long been anticipating sample notices from the Department of Labor (“DOL”) that are required under the Affordable Care Act, informing employees (i) of the existence of the health care exchange (“Exchange”) and certain information about the services provided through the Exchange; (ii) of the possibility that in certain circumstances the employee may be … Continue Reading

Coverage of Domestic Partners within Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plans: Are Changes on the Horizon?

Many employers offer group health plan coverage to domestic partners of their eligible employees. This extension of coverage is purely voluntary and not legally required, either presently or even next year under the mandates facing large employers under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). However, for a variety of reasons related to employee morale, recruiting and … Continue Reading

Departments Release Proposed Regulations on ACA’s 90-Day Waiting Period Limit

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) generally limits the maximum length of employer-sponsored group health plans’ waiting periods to no more than 90-days in 2014.  In the March 21, 2013 Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Labor, Health and Human Services , and the Internal Revenue Service jointly released proposed regulations to provide guidance to employers … Continue Reading
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