Homepage News

Executive Order: Affordable Care Act

President Trump last week issued a Presidential Executive Order (EO) titled “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States.” A key piece of the EO directed the Secretary of Labor to rewrite rules that will expand the opportunity for employers to band together across state lines to purchase health insurance as part of an Association Health Plan, or AHP.

PIA has long supported legislative efforts to expand AHPs as a means to lower health care costs for small and medium-sized printers, and has also eyed offering a potential industry AHP as a potential business development opportunity. Thus, the EO has sparked a dual interest in PIA achieving both outcomes on behalf of its member companies, and I wanted to share with you a few key points regarding the EO and next steps.

 

Background: AHPs and PIA’s Long Time Support

AHPs allow groups of individuals within a trade/industry association to create health insurance pools across state lines to increase purchasing power and price bargaining, similar to how most large corporations with multiple facilities in different states currently provide health coverage to their employees. In addition to providing greater administrative efficiencies, AHPs would be subject to fewer regulations (such as state-by-state mandates); again, this would put small business on par with large corporate fully-insured and self-insured plans. PIA and small business advocates have urged Congress to enact AHPs legislatively as a means to address the problems of health care choice, cost and access. In this Congress, the House has passed H.R. 1101 (“Small Business Health Fairness Act) by a vote of 236-175 and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) has introduced companion legislation (S. 1818, “Small Business Health Plans Act”).

It’s worth noting that the Senate bill contained expansion language that would allow for associations in the same line of business to be considered one group for the purposes of AHPs. For example, printing/packaging/newspaper associations might be able to meet such a guideline and expand the overall purchasing pool to the benefit of their mutual memberships. PIA supported inclusion of this language.

Because these bills have not moved forward and in light of the GOP failure to produce a fix to the Affordable Care Act, President Trump moved forward on the AHP issue using his Executive Branch power. The White House estimates that expanding AHPs along with Health Retirement 2 Accounts (HRAs, also addressed in the EO) would benefit roughly 35 million workers at small business that employer fewer than 50 individuals.

 

The EO: What it Does, Timing, Next Steps

The EO states that within 60 days (by December 15) the Secretary of Labor shall promulgate a regulation on AHPs. This will be part of a formal rulemaking process with the opportunity for public comment and industry input. In essence, this is where the “meat” will be put on the “bones” of the EO (and its accompanying press release).

A key question to address will be how “associations” are defined. In legislative history, it has been defined as a trade association operating for a minimum of “x” years and one that was formed for a bona fide purpose other than offering health insurance. Will this remain AND will expansion language supported by PIA be included to widen risk pools to include multiple associations within common or supply-chain industries? Additionally, the “usual suspects” (namely, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, who regulate the state health insurance markets) will be a force opposing the AHP effort and would likely challenge it legally at some point.

Finally, major health insurers have been opposed to AHPs in the past on the basis that the association risk pools would “cherry pick” healthy individuals out of the current Affordable Healthcare Act plans. These familiar arguments will be reprised throughout the rulemaking process. It is also likely that other federal agencies are pulled into the mix throughout the rulemaking, namely Treasury and Health and Human Services.

In sum, there is no smooth sailing or guarantees with health care policy even with the issuance of an EO calling for AHPs. However, it is critical that PIA monitors and engages in the regulatory process to pursue workable AHPs just as it has done in the Legislative branch for many years.

How Can PIA Make An Impact?

PIA is already engaged in the legislative process, and will now switch focus to the regulatory space. For the next 90 days, PIA is partnering currently with the National Newspaper Association to engage The Brightup Group to monitor the regulatory effort and to take active steps to ensure the industry voice is present during the initial rulemaking process. This will include meeting with Labor Department officials as they draft an AHP proposal, submission of formal comments, and more.

 

IRS Will Enforce Employer Mandate Regardless Of Any Executive Orders

Source: Fisher Phillips Newsletter, 9/5/2017

You may recall that President Trump signed an executive order on the day of his inauguration directing all agencies to minimize the economic burden of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pending its repeal. You may recall also that employers were not mentioned specifically, though the executive order explicitly instructed agency heads to reduce the fiscal burden on individuals and states. 

Seven months later, the ACA still has not been repealed, and it remains unknown whether it ever will be. This uncertainty has left many employers wondering if penalties will be assessed in the future and whether they should revisit their ACA compliance strategies. 

Current IRS Position: Compliance Is Still Necessary 

The Office of Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that employers are still subject to the employer shared responsibility payments (ESRPs) until the ACA is modified or repealed by Congress, because an “executive order does not change the law.” The Office of Chief Counsel also confirmed that the IRS plans on assessing penalties against individuals who do not have the necessary minimum health coverage, even though the executive order instructed agencies to avoid assessing fines against individuals. 

This is consistent with letters the IRS began sending at the end of 2016, notifying employers that they may not have successfully complied with their ACA reporting obligations. These IRS letters provided an opportunity for employers to file ACA returns if they had not met their obligation to do so. In the alternative, employers could inform the IRS that they were not an applicable large employer (ALE), or inform the government that they already filed their returns. Many speculated that these letters meant the IRS was preparing to assess fines because such a verification process is usually a preliminary step before reviewing noncompliance. 

Additionally, marketplaces began sending notices to employers of their right to appeal the determination that allowed employees to receive premium tax credits. Although these notices do not assess penalties, they could be a precursor to the actual assessment of fines. 

Summary of ACA Penalties 

Under the ACA, ALEs are required to offer full-time employees minimum essential health care coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value. If they do not, and a full-time employee receives a premium tax credit to purchase individual coverage through a marketplace, the employer may be assessed an Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP). 

The amount of the penalty depends on the number of full-time employees to which the ALE made an offer of coverage. If it makes an offer of coverage to at least 95 percent of its full-time employees, and one or more of its full-time employees receives a premium tax credit, the ESRP is calculated for each month. For 2017, the amount of the ESRP for any given month is equivalent to the number of full-time employees who received a premium tax credit for that month multiplied by one-twelfth of $3,390. 

If, however, an ALE makes an offer of coverage to fewer than 95 percent of its full-time employees, and one or more full-time employees receive a premium tax credit, the ESRP in 2017 is generally equal to the number of full-time employees, less 30, multiplied by $2,260. 

What Does This Mean For Employers?       

The IRS has made it clear that unless, and until, Congress repeals or amends the individual and employer mandates, it plans to enforce both obligations, regardless of the existing order from the executive branch. This means that you should continue following your current ACA compliance strategy if you wish to avoid penalties, perhaps revisiting the strategy if you have not done so recently. 

You should keep documentation and plan on complying with the ACA in 2018. This includes having the necessary information for timely ACA reporting. You should be prepared to provide copies of Forms 1095-C to individuals by January 31, 2018, and to electronically file forms by April 2, 2018. 

Dynamic Ratios Calculator

Dynamic Ratios Calculator

Interested in understanding how you stack-up as compared to industry averages?

Click here to use the calculator to compare yourself versus others based on information tabulated by Printing Industries of America in the annual Dynamic Ratios Study.

Try the calculator now

©2017 Printing Industries of America - all rights reserved.

Scam Alert

Be on Alert

Email scam:  Your finance director receives an email from you, the owner, telling them to pay a large invoice, presumably for an equipment purchase. The email has your email address and signature exactly.  It looks like any other email you'd send.  The email asks the finance director to pay the invoice immediately because it's holding up the process.  

This happened yesterday to a PGAMA member. The invoice was for $42,800.  

Fortunately, the member caught the scam in time.  Please put a system in place to guard against this scam. This is the second incident amongst our membership.  Questions?  Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 410-319-0900

2017 MIS Survey

The 2017 Survey of Management Information Systems is completemarking the twelfth consecutive year we have produced this free, useful guide for members. The survey results are compiled from questionnaires sent to MIS software vendors, documenting the functionality, cost, and other pertinent information for the vast majority of software packages. This year’s edition features 45 software solutions.  Members can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy of the survey

 

 

MD Governor Dumps Zero-Waste Guidelines

MD Governor Dumps Zero-Waste Guidelines, Calls Them ‘Burdensome & Poorly Devised’

July 5, 2017 by Jennifer Hermes

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has axed the zero-waste guidelines put into place by his predecessor that set a statewide diversion goal of 85% by 2040, saying the guidelines were “last-minute, ill-conceived and poorly devised.” Hogan says he will instead focus on a “common-sense, balanced approach to managing waste in Maryland,” reported the Baltimore Sun.

Hogan also said that the rules “created unnecessary hardships for local governments.” The zero-waste landfill rules were put into place by Gov. Martin O’Malley just days before he left office in 2015, in response to reports that people in the state were throwing away more trash than the typical American.

O’Malley had called it an “ambitious policy framework” that would create “green jobs and business opportunities,” as well as diverting more waste from landfill and significantly improving the state’s recycling rate. But Hogan, in doing away with his predecessor’s rules, called it “burdensome regulation.” He said the state would focus on more achievable recycling goals.

Most states have set either mandatory or voluntary recycling goals; the national recycling average stands at 35%. But some, like Colorado, have never set goals, which appears to seriously hamper recycling rates. In Colorado, for example, the statewide recycling rate stands at just 12%, according to a recent article in Waste 360.

While state-level support of waste and recycling goals can play a valuable role in the country’s progress toward zero waste and a truly circular economy, many cities are also taking a lead. Boston, for example, is planning to cut down its $37 million annual waste hauling costs by pursuing zero waste. The city hired a consultant who will conduct a study on existing waste management practices and ways to divert garbage away from landfills. At least two other cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have already adopted a zero waste policy and are working toward their zero waste goals; Los Angeles is using a new franchise system for waste, and New York is in the process of emulating it. Boston officials said they will be looking into that as well as any other option that could potentially be effective.

Source: https://www.environmentalleader.com/2017/07/md-governor-dumps-zero-waste-guidelines-calls-burdensome-poorly-devised/

OSHA Withdraws 2013 Fairfax Memo On Union Representatives

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has officially rescinded its 2013 Walk-Around Letter of Interpretation commonly referred to as the Fairfax Memo. Under the 2013 interpretation letter, even just one employee could select an outside/non-employee union organizer to act as an “authorized employee representative” during an OSHA walk-around inspection at the workplace.

The letter was very controversial was challenged in 2016 when the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) filed suit to have it overturned. The case had not been fully resolved, but the withdraw of the 2013 letter prompted NFIB to drop their lawsuit.

OSHA withdrew the letter via a separate memorandum issued on April 28, 2017. In the memorandum, OSHA stated that due to the OSH Act’s regulations, specifically 29 C.F.R. 1903.8(c), the Fairfax Memo was no longer necessary. Specifically, OSHA explained that the regulation permits, where good cause is shown and where “reasonably necessary to the conduct of an effective and thorough physical inspection of the workplace,” an inspector may allow a non-employee third party to accompany them during an OSHA inspection.

The rescission of the Fairfax Memo does not mean that a union representative is not allowed to participate in OSHA inspections. If the employer’s employees are represented by a union, the union has a right to participate in the walk-around. If nonunion employees can show good cause and demonstrate that the non-employee union representative is “reasonably necessary” to the inspection, OSHA could still allow the union representative to participate. Since this is a tougher standard to meet, the number of instances where this situation would occur is expected to be low.

Hogan to Veto Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Governor Larry Hogan announced his intention to veto paid sick leave, or the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. According to his remarks, he fully supports a paid sick leave measure, but not the one recently passed by the legislature. He reported his concerns about the effect on the small business community in Maryland and expressed his disappointment with the legislature’s failure to consider the paid sick leave legislation he introduced.

What happens next?

The Maryland General Assembly will likely override his veto at the next available opportunity. If there is a special session this summer, the veto may be overridden sometime in June, July or August and take effect January 1, 2018.

If General Assembly does not meet until the next session, a veto override will be one of the first items of business when the legislative session convenes beginning  January 10, 2018. The legislation will take effect once the veto is overridden.

Are there enough votes to override Governor Hogan’s veto?

Yes, the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers – but very narrowly in the Senate. Currently, the Democratic leadership has the votes to override and implement paid sick leave. However, we will be carefully monitoring potential membership changes and other policy developments over the interim that may affect a veto override vote.

Proposed Executive Action on Paid Sick Leave from Hogan Administration:

In response to his veto and to demonstrate his commitment to the issue, the Governor is also proposing three Executive actions regarding paid sick leave.

  1. A study to develop new recommendations on best practices for paid sick leave.
  2. An Executive Order granting paid sick leave to all state employees (both contract and non-contract), resulting in 8,000 more individuals receiving the benefit.
  3. An order that all procurement officers give preference to all companies that offer paid sick leave.

OSHA Rescinds Controversial Recordkeeping Requirement

On December 19, 2016, OSHA issued a final rule titled, “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness.” See 81 FR 91792. The final rule, which became effective on January 18, 2017, resulted in various amendments to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations clarifying that the duty to make and maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses is an ongoing obligation. The key aspect of the rule would have extended the statute of limitations from six months to five years as to when the agency can issue a citation for failing to record an injury or illness.

OSHA had previously lost this battle in court when the Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2012 [AKM LLC d/b/a Volks Constructors v. Sec’y of Labor, 675 F.3d 752 (D.C. Cir. 2012)] denied their request to extend the statute of limitations. The court ruling negated the citation issued to a company for not keeping their records updated over a 5-year consecutive period. The OSHA statute states that OSHA cannot issue a citation beyond the 6-month statute of limitations as defined in the OSHAct, the legislation that created OSHA.

OSHA believed that it had the authority to extend the statute of limitations via rulemaking and issued its rule which became known as the “Volks” rule. The rule made recordkeeping requirements a continuing obligation and effectively gave OSHA the ability to issue citations to employers for failing to record work-related injuries and illnesses during the 5-year retention period, contrary to the 6-month limit.

On March 1, 2017 (Cong. Rec. pp. H1421–H1430), the House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval (H.J. Res. 83) of the rule under the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.). The Senate then passed H.J. Res. 83 on March 22, 2017. President Trump signed the resolution into law as Public Law 115–21 on April 3, 2017. Accordingly, OSHA is hereby removing the affected amendments to the recordkeeping regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations.

The final rule becomes effective on May 3, 2017.

Analysis

This rulemaking is significant in that it defines OSHA’s authority as to when they can cite a company for not keeping their injury and illness records (i.e. Form 300) current Companies with 10 or more employees are still required to keep and maintain 5 years of injury and illness data. The impact of the legislation and rule recession does not change this requirement. What the legislation did was say that OSHA could not cite companies beyond the 6-month statute of limitation for not keeping the records current. OSHA was citing and fining companies for not keeping the records current over the 5 year retention period.

Therefore, OSHA can cite you for not having the records. They can’t cite you for not keeping them current, past the 6 month deadline. Since there is a 7 day window to record an injury, the period of time a company could be cited for not recording an injury or illness is 6 months and 7 days.

In addition, there are NO revisions in this notice to the following controversial rules:

  • 1904.36 - Prohibition against discrimination (e.g. (post accident drug testing)
  • 1904.39 - Reporting fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye as a result of work-related incidents to OSHA
  • 1904.41 - Electronic submission of injury and illness records to OSHA (due to start on July 1, 2017)

Financial Performance Assessment Webinar

Financial Performance Assessment Webinar

Watch it here.  Printing Industries of America’s Center for Print Economics and Management has developed a new way for printers to assess their strengths and weaknesses and to obtain an action plan to improve their bottom-line performance. The key features of the new Financial Performance Assessment include:

  • A detailed comparison and analysis of the printer’s key performance metrics with profit-leading firms that are similar in size, business models, and printing processes.
  • A comprehensive variance analysis examining the underlying reasons for performance issues.
  • An action plan with recommendations for specific strategic management practices and operational improvements, such as lowering costs, saving resources, changing prices, and other actions to stop losses and increase sales and profits.
  • The findings are presented to management in both a detailed report to management and a web-based presentation to the printer’s management team.
  • On-going assistance and consultation as needed to help in the implementation of the action plan.
  • The research and analysis are conducted by Dr. Ron Davis, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist with over 28 years’ experience in financial analysis in the printing industry, and Tai McNaughton,  Economist at PIA.

2016 Frederick D. Kagy Education Award of Excellence Recipient

Printing Industries of America is pleased to announce that the Printing Technologies program of the Center of Applied Technology North (CAT-North) in Severn, MD has been awarded the 2016 Frederick D. Kagy Education Award of Excellence. The program is honored for its innovative approach to preparing students for entry-level positions in the printing industry. CAT-North is a public career and technology school in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County school system.

Accepting the award on behalf of CAT-North is Michael Born, who instructs the Printing Technologies program at CAT-North. Under his guidance, the program produces students with marketable skills in traditional offset printing as well as digital print technology. The hands-on approach of the program ensures that students are familiar with all operations of a printing company from file creation to job planning/estimating through final production and finishing. During Mr. Born’s tenure, enrollment in the Printing Technologies program has increased by 70%.

Mr. Born also employs inventive teaching practices such as the “Human Printing Press.” Students learn the features and functions of the components of a printing press and act out the printing process in order to envision the system as a whole. Another example includes having students interact with equipment and machinery on their first day of class. This allows students to have a powerful sensory introduction to the printing environment consisting of sound, motion, touch, and smell. The program taps heavily into industry support through its active advisory board.

“Mr. Born has turned the CAT-North program into one to be emulated,” said Gary Habicht, President of Printing Specialist Corporation. “The kids involved are enthusiastic and thoroughly engaged in what they are doing. You can feel the level of excitement in the classroom, as compared to a few years ago, when it seemed to be just another class.”

Mr. Born will accept the 2016 Frederick D. Kagy Education Award on behalf of CAT-North at the TAGA 2017 Annual Technical Conference on March 21, 2017 in Houston, TX. For information about the Frederick D. Kagy Education Award of Excellence, visit www.printing.org/printingindustryawards.

Air Quality Inspections Continue in Maryland

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) continues to conduct air quality compliance inspections in our area. Typically, MDE contacts the company by phone notifying them of the agencies intent to conduct an air quality inspection. Then, an email or fax is sent a few days before the visit that includes a checklist and a reminder of the inspection. The actual inspections have been short according to members that have been inspected. Once the inspection is finished, the inspector provides feedback and makes suggestions based on their findings. We are not aware of any citations that have been issued because of the inspections.

Primarily the inspections are intended to bring Permit to Construct records up-to-date. MDE requires that companies that have non-heatset sheetfed offset lithographic printing presses with rollers that are 18” or greater have an air quality permit. Most printing companies can apply for a simplified General Permit to construct if the following criteria are met:

  • Facility has only non-heatset sheetfed offset lithographic printing presses;
  • Facility uses 1,000 gallons or less of fountain solution concentrate per year;
  • Facility does not use any clean-up solvent or fountain solution concentrate containing the following chemicals:*

CAS # Common Names

75-09-2 Methylene chloride or Dichloromethane

64741-41-9 Heavy aliphatic petroleum distillate

29911-28-2 Dipropylene glycol butyl ether

*Refer to updated SDS sheets for all cleaning solvents and fountain solutions to determine whether these chemicals are present

In addition, the inspectors do look at some related items including:

  • the use of alcohol in fountain solution,
  • the storage of VOC waste materials in closed containers,
  • whether lids of VOC containing materials are maintained when the materials are not in use,
  • whether facilities have in writing good operating practices to minimize use of VOC containing materials for persons cleaning printing equipment,

For the first time, emissions from digital presses are included on the inspection checklist. Also requested are plant-wide emissions for the past 2 years. PGAMA has a template for VOC handling procedures and a spreadsheet for calculating plant-wide emissions.

If you receive a notice of inspection, contact Paul Foster at PGAMA for material explaining what to expect and how to prepare. 

2017 USPS Promotions

The 2017 Mailing Promotions continue to build on the engagement strategies of past Promotions. To demonstrate that direct mail continues to be a relevant part of the marketing mix and has the potential to offer greater value, the Postal Service is encouraging customers to adopt and invest in technologies that enhance how consumers interact and engage with mail. This improves the long-term value of the product, providing substantial benefits in future years.  Check them out here.

Login