North America

Healthcare Alert: Affordable Care Act: Medical expense reimbursement plans may need amendment

At one time medical expense reimbursement plans (MERPs) were a very popular fringe benefit, particularly for small employers, and most particularly for small professional corporations maintained by healthcare providers. Under a MERP, a corporation could reimburse its employees (including shareholder employees) for their unreimbursed medical and dental expenses. Reimbursements were generally permitted for anything considered a deductible medical expense under the Internal Revenue Code that was not paid for or, otherwise reimbursed by health insurance covering the individual. A MERP could cover the expenses not only of the employee, but also that of the spouse and dependents of the employee. MERPs typically contained an annual cap, or limit, on the amount of reimbursements which would be allowed to any individual participant.

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Cogeneration Coalition formed to assist in the development of favorable public policy

Cleveland, Ohio (February 11, 2015) – In light of the issues being discussed by the Energy Mandates Study Committee in the Ohio General Assembly, General Electric (GE), IGS Energy (IGS), Energy Systems Group (ESG), and Hull & Associates (Hull) have formed a coalition in an effort to advance public policy initiatives to educate policy makers, offer solutions on ways to advance cogeneration, and encourage the development of cogeneration projects in Ohio.

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"’The More Integrated You Are, the More Independent You Are," Rick Cooper quoted

PHOENIX — On Day 2 of the Rural Health Care Leadership Conference, keynote speaker Pamela Knecht challenged attendees to rethink the governance skills suitable for today’s increasingly integrated health care dynamic. In what would ideally be a “continuum of care,” she said, leaders must work more collaboratively throughout their industries and democratically within their organizations to truly integrate their services.

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OSHA’s Appropriations Efforts Signal Increased: Enforcement and Higher Penalties in 2015

President Obama’s recent budget proposal to Congress includes a proposed $592.1 million budget for OSHA this fiscal year — a 7 percent increase from fiscal 2015.  Although gaining approval of the proposal will surely be an uphill battle, which may be insurmountable in light of opposition from Republican lawmakers who oversee the appropriations process, the content of OSHA’s budget justification provides strong signals of its agenda for the coming year.

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Federally regulated employers’ right to dismiss employees ‘without cause’ confirmed

A Federal Court of Appeal decision has confirmed the right of Federally regulated employers, including private sector companies and crown corporations to dismiss their non-unionized employees on a ‘without cause’ basis, a right long availed to Provincially regulated employers. The effect of this decision – which has endorsed the applicability of common law termination principles to assess the ‘justness’ of severance packages – overturns nearly 40 years of arbitral jurisprudence that held that dismissals could only be effected on a ‘just cause’ basis. More…

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THE CONVENTION ON SUPPLEMENTARY COMPENSATION (CSC) FOR NUCLEAR LIABILITY IN FORCE APRIL 15, 2015 IMPORTANT IMPLICATIONS FOR NUCLEAR OPERATORS AND SUPPLIERS

With Japan having submitted its instrument of ratification to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the CSC will come into force on April 15, 2015. This has significant implications for cross-border nuclear liability and it creates another layer of financial protection for the public in addition to that provided by financial security required under the domestic law of the country of origin of the nuclear incident. Ratifying countries will need to contribute to a fund of 300 million special drawing rights (an SDR is about $1.50 U.S.) for contingent liability coverage for a nuclear incident in a CSC member state. More…

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"TAX TIPS: Goodwill transfer can be part of succession plan," Carl Grassi featured

Transferring ownership of a business to children who are involved in the business is often the succession plan of choice. If the business has significant value, however, estate and gift tax issues can make moving ownership from one generation to the next problematic.

One transfer technique for businesses that are not capital intensive is to have members of the next generation form a new company and direct business of the old company to the new one.

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Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Alert: White House announces new cyber threat agency

Today, the White House formally announced it will create a new agency to combat cyber threats and coordinate digital intelligence among federal government agencies. The agency will be called the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center and is being designed to “connect the dots” among cyber threats facing the United States, “so that relevant departments and agencies are aware of these threats in as close to real time as possible,” an official for the White House said. According to The Washington Post, the agency’s mission will be to fuse intelligence from around the government when a crisis occurs. This is the White House’s latest attempt to mount a defense against the rising threat of sophisticated hackers.

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Pat Williams in VISOA Bulletin

Pat Williams has contributed an article to the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA) Bulletin for February 2015. In the article (page 14), Pat discusses Phase 2 of the Strata Property Law Project created by the BC Law Institute.

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McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies Advisory: This Week in Washington — February 6, 2015

The House-passed Department of Homeland Security funding bill failed to overcome a procedural vote this week, getting only 51 of the 60 votes needed to stay alive in the Senate. The measure, which is filled with provisions aimed at rolling back much of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, would block Obama’s executive action on immigration and place “Dreamers” and millions of other immigrants back at risk of deportation.

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