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Employee Benefits Security Administration

Media Release

Release Date: 02/26/2003
Release Number: 03-10
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

Phone Number: 202.693.8664

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Labor Department Announces Compliance Assistance Program for ERISA Health Laws

Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today unveiled a new compliance assistance program to help employers and health plans fulfill their obligations under health laws including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act (Newborns’ Act), and the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA). Generally, all ERISA health plans must comply with these laws, with some exceptions for small businesses.

Assistant Secretary of Labor Ann L. Combs stated, “Compliance with these laws by employers and providers is essential to ensuring that workers and their families enjoy the benefits of these important laws. Our efforts demonstrate Secretary Elaine L. Chao’s ongoing commitment to providing compliance assistance to stakeholders. Our new program provides employers and health plans the opportunity to understand the laws’ requirements and make necessary changes.”

EBSA’s “HIPAA Compliance Assistance Program (H-CAP)” will help the benefits community address specific compliance issues. H-CAP is a three-pronged program that includes new publications targeted to assist group health plans and health insurers comply with the health laws, a new section of the EBSA Web page dedicated to health law material, and sponsorship of compliance assistance workshops around the country.

The new publications include a self-audit checklist; a guide summarizing the laws’ notice requirements, including sample language; and updated tips for avoiding the 15 most common mistakes.

EBSA also released a report showing that group health plans are generally complying with the health care laws. The report summarizes an EBSA 2001 audit of nearly 1,300 group health plans finding that compliance with the non-notice provisions of the laws varied from 71.9% under HIPAA, 92% under MHPA, 94.8% under the Newborns’ Act, and 95.5% under WHCRA. The most significant non-compliance related to the laws’ various notice requirements. EBSA used the report to develop the new H-CAP program, targeting those areas where non-compliance was most prevalent.

The new Web page, publications and report are available at www.dol.gov/ebsa under Compliance Assistance or by calling toll-free 1.866.444.EBSA (3272).

U.S. Department of Labor news releases are accessible on the Internet. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202.693.7773 or TTY 202.693.7755.