DoL Budget Proposal Calls for Enhancement of MEWAs Program

February 14, 2012 ( - The U.S. Department of Labor released its FY 2013 proposed budget on Monday. 

According to the proposal, for 2013 the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s (EBSA’s) plan is to continue to enhance pension and health benefits security for America’s workers and their families.

EBSA expects to implement regulations that significantly enhance the department’s enforcement authority relating to Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs) by utilizing the authority provided to the Secretary in the Affordable Care Act in FY 2013. The planned increases in interpretative and other technical assistance projects primarily involve MEWA registration and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) compliance efforts. EBSA estimates completing a total of 4,747 interpretive and other associated technical assistance projects/plan inquiries and targeted technical assistance in FY 2013.

With regard to the new MEWA registration requirements and healthcare related enforcement tools, the requested resources will enable EBSA to develop and implement compliance related programs to aid in the agency’s oversight and audit initiatives to combat healthcare fraud. These efforts will include developing compliance related materials and providing training for the agency’s Benefits Advisors and Investigators upon issuance of final MEWA regulatory provisions. Detailed presentations on the MEWA regulatory provisions will also be provided to new field office Investigators and Benefits Advisors who attend the agency’s Basic Training seminars.

EBSA will develop materials and conduct compliance workshops across the country to educate industry professionals about the new MEWA provisions and will enhance the MEWA Registration Form to facilitate more detailed investigations of entities that may not have sufficient reserves to pay legitimate health care claims. (See “EBSA Proposes Rules to Regulate MEWAs”).

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)  

The DoL’s FY 2013 Budget plan for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) will focus its resources on fulfilling its statutory mission, correcting known deficiencies and positioning itself to respond quickly and effectively to any major pension plan terminations.

The budget proposes to give the PBGC Board authority to adjust premiums and directs PBGC to take into account the risks that different sponsors pose to their retirees and to PBGC.

According to the DoL, historically, Congress has responded to PBGC deficits by authorizing premium increases as part of broader substantive PBGC reform legislation. As an alternative, the DoL is proposing in the FY 2013 Budget to give the PBGC Board authority to adjust premiums gradually over time starting in FY 2014. Premiums would take into account the risks that different sponsors pose to their retirees and to PBGC. This will both encourage companies to fully fund their pension benefits and ensure the continued financial soundness of PBGC. In order to ensure that these reforms are undertaken responsibly during challenging economic times, the policy change would require one year of study and public comment before any implementation with a gradual phasing in of any increases.

To view the detailed DoL FY 2013 Budget plan, visit