The DOL Must Modernize: How Old Rules Are Hurting Benefit Plans & Participants

June 7, 2017

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CONTACT:
Kelly Broadway, 202.627.1918, kbroadway@eric.org

For Immediate Release

The DOL Must Modernize: How Old Rules Are Hurting Benefit Plans & Participants

Washington, DC  – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) today testified before the Department of Labor’s (DOL) ERISA Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans about streamlining and eliminating unnecessary disclosure requirements placed on health and retirement plan sponsors.

ERIC, the only national association that advocates exclusively for large employers on health, retirement, and compensation public policies at the state, federal, and local levels, is dedicated to working with regulators and policymakers to remove unnecessary regulatory hurdles so that the resources employers set aside to provide benefits to their employees are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.

In today’s testimony, ERIC focused on four areas:  streamlining required disclosures; reviewing the cost impact to the plan sponsor of any proposed changes to current disclosures, with the goal of reducing cost; decreasing unnecessary, repetitive, and extraneous information in required disclosures; and promoting flexible rules on distribution and presentation to allow plan sponsors to tailor the information based on their individual workforce.

ERIC’s Senior Vice President for Health Policy, James Gelfand, urged the Council to consider several options in relation to reporting on employer-sponsored health insurance plans:

  • Do not move forward with the proposal to massively expand Form 5500, especially the onerous Schedule J health plan reporting;
  • End the Summary Annual Report requirement for health and wellness benefit plans;
  • Move forward with DOL efforts to allow employers to put all notices online, in a centralized location where employees could access them as needed; and
  • Further study the use of Summary Plan Descriptions as a reference tool for plan beneficiaries to better understand their plans.

“It is imperative that the Department of Labor do a comprehensive review of all employer-sponsored health insurance plan beneficiary disclosure requirements. This review should result in an action plan to ensure that beneficiaries receive the right information, at the right times, and in the right format, while also eliminating disclosures that do little for plan participants,” said James Gelfand, Senior Vice President for Health Policy.

Will Hansen, Senior Vice President for Retirement and Compensation Policy, also testified before the Council today. He asked that the Council:

  • Review steps to remove legal barriers attached to the Summary Plan Description (SPD) and allow employers the freedom to tailor it to their specific workforce
  • Incorporate the Summary Annual Report and Summary of Material Modifications into other documents; 
  • Streamline the Participant Fee Disclosure information into the SPD or other documents;
  • Recommend the DOL determine ways to promote electronic disclosure of materials; and
  • Not include any new disclosure proposals in the Council’s final report to the DOL.

“It is time that the Department of Labor modernize its rules to provide greater flexibility to plan sponsors to communicate with plan participants via electronic means,” said Will Hansen, Senior Vice President for Retirement and Compensation Policy, ERIC. “By using today’s technology, plan sponsors would have the flexibility to enhance the disclosures to include interactive features that could help participants understand the materials, as well as allow for inclusion of other relevant information. Additionally, it would reduce costs to both the plan sponsor and the plan participants.”

Click here to read ERIC’s testimony.

About The ERISA Industry Committee
The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is the only national association that advocates exclusively for large employers on health, retirement, and compensation public policies at the state, federal, and local levels. Learn more at eric.org.