Health and Welfare Plans
Welfare benefit plans increasingly present complex problems requiring an interdisciplinary approach. These plans are controlled by ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. As health and welfare benefits have become a larger and more costly component of employee compensation, Congress has passed laws regulating continuation coverage, mental health parity, preexisting condition exclusions, discrimination based on medical status, security of private medical information, and electronic transmission standards. With the advent of increased state regulation and mandates, federal legislative initiatives, and ever-changing regulations, employers are increasingly reviewing and modifying their health and welfare plans.
For more than 40 years, Morgan Lewis has provided advice to multiemployer and single-employer clients with respect to welfare benefit plans. This advice has included compliance with myriad regulatory requirements, as well as advice to fiduciaries on plan administration, funding arrangements (including retiree medical benefits and VEBAs), cafeteria plans, plan documentation, employee communications, contract negotiation with insurers and other third-party service providers, review of government filings, and assistance with governmental investigations. In addition, we have helped our clients to design, negotiate and implement innovative, cost-saving plan designs, such as HDHP/HSA combinations and HRAs, and to review their welfare benefit programs through comprehensive legal audits. Our approach in this area has included not only compliance with legal requirements, but also ways to minimize the likelihood of lawsuits against welfare benefit plans and their sponsors.