Joel Oswald, principal at Williams & Jensen, said during a TD Ameritrade post-election webinar that the re-election of President Barack Obama means the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) proposal to expand the fiduciary definition will likely advance. “I think there’s the clear expectation that the DOL will move forward with their [fiduciary] proposal,” he predicted, adding that questions remain about what the re-proposal will look like.
It has also been speculated that Mary Schapiro may step down as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but it’s unclear whether this is true, Oswald said. Her term ends in 2014.
Regardless of who is SEC chairman, Oswald still expects a push for a uniform fiduciary standard. “If the SEC does act, it will certainly be a highly scrutinized proposal,” he added. Schapiro has said she thinks there should be a uniform fiduciary standard of care for all registered investment advisers (RIAs) and broker/dealers.
Health Care Reform Moves Forward
Employers should gear up for changes taking place in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “This is it … We all have to have a plan for 2014,” said Tracy Watts, partner at Mercer, during the company’s post-election webinar.
With the election behind us, Watts anticipates an “avalanche of guidance” in the coming weeks regarding questions such as:
- What are the specifics of the Reporting and Disclosure Requirements?
- What are the non-discrimination rules?
- How should essential health benefits be defined?
- Will a cap on deductibles apply to all employer plans in 2014?
- What will fees be under the Transitional Reinsurance Program?
- What are the public insurance exchanges going to look like in 2014 and will they be ready?
Goals for employers remain the same, Watts noted, including a better consumer experience, improved employee health and lower cost.
Employers are embracing consumer-directed plans, with some electing to only offer account-based plans to their employees and seeing significant savings as a result. Some are also implementing defined contribution strategies for their health care programs to manage year-over-year increase in cost by spending a pre-defined amount on a basic plan offering and giving employees the option to buy additional coverage, she said.