Health and Welfare Plan Counsel

Overview

While the complexity and the pace of change in health and welfare plans increases rapidly, BakerHostetler guides clients to strategic solutions that meet their organization’s goals.

Comprehensive health reform in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has left organizations confused, concerned and fundamentally rethinking how to efficiently provide for their employees. Our multifaceted approach includes an analysis of a client’s industry, workforce and demographics to ensure the best decisions are made in compliance with the ACA and other regulations.

Our holistic team of attorneys enables us to assist clients at all levels of plan administration. We help them design customized benefit plans that comply with existing regulations, develop and implement effective strategies based on changing rules or changing employer needs, and face complex benefits-related decisions involving terminations, reorganizations, acquisitions, reductions in force and other events. When employers or plan fiduciaries face litigation over how their plans have been managed, we successfully represent them in court. We also represent clients in regulatory proceedings involving the U.S. Department of Labor, IRS, National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal and state agencies.

Our team develops integrated benefits solutions for employers of all sizes, based on our comprehensive knowledge of the full menu of benefits capable of being provided, including health, dental, vision, life, disability and dependent care benefits. We have particular experience in counseling employers involved in collective bargaining situations where employee benefits become a focal point of negotiations.

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We regularly review benefit programs to ensure they are in compliance with the Internal Revenue Code, as well as laws such as the ACA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), Medicare, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act as modified by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (ADEA).

We also counsel the sponsors, administrators, and promoters of plans with special characteristics and special needs, such as multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs), jointly-trusteed “Taft-Hartley” welfare benefit funds, and welfare benefit plans that pre-fund benefits through the use of a voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA).

The ongoing reformation of the health care delivery system is certain to cause many employers to rethink the role they play in the purchase and offering of health insurance coverage to their employees and their employees’ dependents and consider all of the legal and financial options available to them. Our experience, representing all of the stakeholders involved in that process ranging from employers to insurers to health care providers, uniquely positions our team to advise clients not only about how they can respond today, but also how they could respond in the future to questions such as whether to strategically purchase health insurance coverage for small pockets of employees; whether to encourage employee use of the new health insurance marketplace/exchanges; whether to self-insure; whether to organize a captive insurance company to strategically re-insure certain risks; whether wellness programs are beneficial or problematic; and a variety of other considerations.

Select Experience

  • Obtained a bench verdict for a client in a class action by union retirees challenging changes to the client's retiree medical benefit plan.
  • Reached a favorable settlement in ERISA benefits claim for short- and long-term disabilities on behalf of numerous employers.
  • Restructured all the benefits plans for thousands of employees of a manufacturing company when it was spun off by a large multinational company.
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Experience

  • Obtained a bench verdict for a client in a class action by union retirees challenging changes to the client's retiree medical benefit plan.
  • Reached a favorable settlement in ERISA benefits claim for short- and long-term disabilities on behalf of numerous employers.
  • Restructured all the benefits plans for thousands of employees of a manufacturing company when it was spun off by a large multinational company.
  • Reached favorable settlement in subrogation claims to recover plan assets on behalf of numerous clients.
  • Advised employers and insurers in strategies for ACA compliance.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation in Ohio (2007 to 2017)
    • Band 1 (2010 to 2017)
  • BTI Client Service 30: BakerHostetler advanced 19 positions to #9 (2016)
  • U.S. News - Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” (2016)
    • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
      • National Tier 3
      • Metro Cleveland, Tier 1
      • Metro Orlando, Tier 3
    • Litigation - ERISA
      • National Tier 3
      • Metro Cleveland, Tier 1
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2016)
    • 5 lawyers named in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
    • 2 lawyers named in Litigation - ERISA

Key Contacts