Capitol Week-in-Review – October 12, 2017

WIB Backs Legislation to Reform Duplicative FMLA Law

In 1988, Wisconsin lawmakers approved a Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) law. Five years later, federal government enacted a nationwide FMLA law. These laws have never been harmonized, leaving Wisconsin employers to wade through two confusing laws to ensure compliance.

Last week, State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Representatives Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) and Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) proposed legislation that they have dubbed the “Family and Medical Leave Simplification Act.” Under their proposal:

  • Wisconsin’s FMLA does not apply to a Wisconsin employer that is required to provide leave under the federal FMLA law;
  • Wisconsin’s FMLA does not apply to a Wisconsin employer that opts to provide leave under the federal FMLA law to an employee who is not an eligible employee, so long as the employer provides leave to such an employee in the same manner as the employer provides leave to an eligible employee; and
  • An employee is not prohibited from taking leave under Wisconsin’s FMLA law to care for a spouse, child, parent, domestic partner, or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition.

Their proposal reduces red tape and compliance costs. Moreover, it clarifies for employers and employees what the law is, what the benefits are and assist in planning for upcoming leave events. For these reasons, WIB will be lobbying state lawmakers to approve the Family and Medical Leave Simplification Act.

WIB Joins Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition

Late last month, WIB became a founding member of the Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition (WCEC). Along with our Coalition partners, we are seeking legislative approval of the agreed-bill from the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC), which includes the creation of a medical fee schedule as a means to reduce Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation medical costs.

The first official action taken by the WCEC was a memorandum to all Wisconsin lawmakers entitled: Support Reining in Out-of-Control Work Comp Medical Costs. Meetings with State Senators and State Representatives to discuss this issue in greater detail have been scheduled. Our goal is to get this legislation to the Governor’s desk for final approval before the end of the year.

President Takes Executive Action to Expand Access to More Affordable Health Care Coverage

Earlier today, President Trump signed an Executive Order that is intended to increase competition, choice, and access to lower-priced, high-quality healthcare options. More specifically, the order directs the:

  • Secretary of the United States Department of Labor to consider expanding access to Association Health Plans (AHPs). A broader interpretation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) could potentially allow employers in the same line of business anywhere in the country to join together to offer healthcare coverage to their employees.
  • United States Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider expanding coverage through low cost short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) which are not subject to the mandates and regulations set forth in ObamaCare; and
  • United States Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider changes to Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) so employers can make better use of them for their employees.

The President’s efforts to expand access to more affordable health care coverage for small employers and their workers are most appreciated. We hope the Trump Administration will move quickly to transform these departmental directives into specific policies. When those important details are available we will share them members.