We all love summer-the sun, the waves, and the outdoors. While you are outside enjoying the weather, don’t forget to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun’s harmful rays.  The sun’s rays are strongest between 10:00AM-3PM.  During these times especially, try to limit your exposure to the sun and CHOOSE YOUR COVER:


Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. Over 61,000 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin in 2009 and about 9,000 people died from this preventable disease.* The CDC recommends preventive measures such as: wear sunscreen, seek shade, cover up with long sleeve clothing, pants, a wide brim hat, and UVA/UVB protective sunglasses to minimize your chances of getting some form of skin cancer.

Enjoy summer responsibly!

Snack Attack

nuts - healthy snack

Have you ever been at work at 3:00  and all you can think about is “I wonder if there is any Snickers left in the vending machine”. One of the most common questions I get from employees is “What is a healthy snack?”

If you want a healthy, low-calorie snack but don’t want to pay the premium for convenience, here are some healthy snacks you can prepare yourself. You’ll save money, reduce waste, and stay fuller longer with these 100- to 200-calorie ideas that you can portion out yourself. It just takes a little planning on your part. Don’t be caught hungry again!

Smart Snack Alternatives

  • Low-fat cottage cheese (4 oz): 80 calories
  • Raisins (50 or about 1 oz): 85 calories
  • Skim milk latte (8 oz): 85 calories
  • Air-popped popcorn (3 cups or 1 oz): 95 calories
  • Graham crackers (8 small rectangles): 100 calories
  • Thin pretzel sticks (48 sticks or 1 oz): 100 calories
  • Celery (5 pieces) with peanut butter (1 Tbsp): 100 calories
  • Unsweetened applesauce (1 cup): 100 calories
  • An apple (small) with low-fat cheese (2 oz): 150 calories
  • An apple (small) with 1 tbs peanut butter: 175 calories
  • Baby carrots (10) with hummus (1/4 cup): 150 calories
  • Peanuts (a handful or 1 oz): 160 calories
  • Raw almonds (a handful or 1 oz): 165 calories
  • Low-fat yogurt (6 oz): 175 calories (or greek yogurt)
  • Tortilla chips (12 chips or 1 oz) with salsa (1/2 cup): 175 calories
  • Whole wheat Ritz crackers (10 crackers or 1 oz) with peanut butter (1/2 Tbsp): 175 calories

Snack ideas from:

Be Active, Be Healthy

Instead of investing an hour at the gym, what if you could become more fit with 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there throughout your day? The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. However, you will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.

The best ways to increase your motivation to exercise is to understand the importance of it.

benefits of a healthy lifestyle


Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter.

February is National Heart Month

February is the month that we promote heart healthy behaviors. For those of us over 40, or those with multiple risk factors, it is important to calculate the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years. Many first-ever heart attacks or strokes are fatal or disabling. Prevention is key to staying healthy because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day.

The American Heart Association has made this process simply. Log onto their website  to find seven simple improvements that we can make to our daily lives to prevent a heart attack.



Injured Volunteers

When a volunteer gets hurt, what exposure does a nonprofit have?

One of your volunteers is performing work for your agency and sustains an injury.  The injured volunteer receives medical treatment and asks you if you can take care of their expenses.  How should you respond to this request?

The easiest way to handle this situation is with a volunteer accident policy.  This policy will cover medical expenses for volunteers providing services to your organization.  Injured volunteers generally just want their medical bills paid.  In the absence of a volunteer policy, the injured volunteer might bring suit for medical bills along with pain and suffering damages.  This would involve a claim against your general liability and/or your workers’ compensation policy.  These types of claims are generally much more expensive and develop an adversarial relationship with a volunteer who should be an ally.

Workers Compensation or PIP: Which insurance will cover your loss?

It’s a beautiful day and your employee is driving down the road when, all of a sudden, he is struck from behind. Your employee is injured and the police are called. He goes to the hospital and is asked for his insurance. What does he do? Which insurance will cover him in this accident? In the state of Florida, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) no-fault insurance will cover medical treatment on your auto policy. However, since he was injured while working, wouldn’t Workers’ Compensation cover his medical treatment?

The answer is twofold. Yes, Workers’ Compensation will cover your employee injured in the auto accident, but so will his PIP insurance and your business PIP coverage. To which policy do you submit the claim? The injured worker has an option when this is the case. The treatment under both policies would be the same, but filing through Workers’ Compensation, the adjuster will monitor the employee’s treatment more closely and there is a better chance the injury claim will be expedited, helping the injured employee return to their pre-injured state.

When it comes to The Family and Medical Leave Act…Does your company pass the test?

Your employee sustained a serious Workers’ Compensation injury due to the carelessness of a fellow employee. This injury has made him eligible for FMLA leave of 12 weeks. He is now only receiving 66.6% of his average weekly wage and requests that you use his accumulated sick pay to make up the difference. How do you respond?

Since the Workers’ Compensation absence is not unpaid leave, the provision for substitution of the employee’s accrued paid leave is not applicable. Employers should not allow employees to draw vacation pay, sick pay, or other types of compensated leave pay concurrently with Workers’ Compensation payments if the employee is out on FMLA leave.

If you have any questions regarding FMLA, contact Chris Bergstrom at 727-522-7777, ext 210, or email him at

PPACA in 2013

PPACA in 2013

For employers and plan sponsors that have been adopting a “wait and see” approach before focusing on compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the wait is over. PPACA’s insurance mandates, market reforms, and employer requirements will move ahead as scheduled, with most of PPACA becoming fully effective in 2014. That is just one short year from now. Since the law left the task of working out specific details to the regulatory agencies (Department of Labor, IRS, and Department of Health and Human Services), employers can expect to see significant guidance between now and the end of 2013. We created this UPDATE to assist our clients with the complexities of PPACA, but must also give credit our legal partner, Proskeaur Rose, LLP for its preparation as several points come from a similar briefing prepared by their office on this topic.


For most employers, 2013 will be a critical “planning year” to prepare for the most notable PPACA provisions which impact plans in 2014. However, several important elements of the law were effective inlate 2012, or will become effective during 2013, including:

  • Expanded 100% coverage for women’s preventive care services, including certain contraceptives. (effective August 2012)
  • Mandatory W2 reporting on the aggregate cost of “applicable health coverage” for employers who issued more than 250 W2s for the 2011 tax year. The requirement will apply to all employers, regardless of size, when issuing W2s for 2013.
  • Issuance of Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (SBCs) to all eligible enrollees for open enrollment periods and plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2012.
  • $2,500 limit on pre-tax contributions to healthcare flexible spending accounts (FSAs) as of the first day of the 2013 plan year
  • Requirement to notify employees of the availability of health insurance exchanges (guidance pending; intended to be effective March 2013)
  • Increase in the Comparative Effective Research Fee (from $1 to $2 per participant per year) for the 2013 plan year
  • 0.9% Medicare payroll tax increase for individuals earning over $200,000 effective with the 2013 tax year


As noted above, the majority of PPACA’s most impactful provisions will arrive in 2014. Employers must start now and develop an action plan to prepare for the following legislative provisions and market reforms:

  • Maximum 90-day limit on eligibility waiting periods
  • Complete prohibition on preexisting condition exclusions for all individuals
  • Elimination on annual dollar limits for “essential health benefits”
  • Deductible limits of $2,000 single / $4,000 family for groups under 100 (clarification pending for larger employers)
  • Maximum Out-of-Pocket limits capped at the level set for HSA-compatible high-deductible plans ($6,250 single / $12,500 family) for groups under 100 (clarification pending for larger employers)
  • Coverage under non-grandfathered plans for certain approved clinical trials
  • Guaranteed availability and renewability of insured group health plans
  • Requirement for employers to certify to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding whether its group health plan provides “minimum essential coverage” (reports are actually due in 2015 based on 2014 benefits)
  • Fees commence under the Transitional Reinsurance Program. This assessment will be imposed from 2014-2016 in order to stabilize premiums in individual markets. Fees for the 2014 plan year are expected to be $5.25 per employee per month
  • Increase in allowable “outcome-based” wellness incentives from 20% to 30%
  • Initial phase of the Medicare Part D “donut hole” fix, which will eliminate the Medicare Part D coverage gap by 2020


Perhaps the most anticipated PPACA provision in 2014 is the “Pay or Play Penalty” and its impact on large employers. For purposes of this provision, large employers are defined as having 50 or more “full-time equivalent” employees. Full-time employees are those who work a minimum of 30 hours per week and there is an equivalency test for employers with significant numbers of part time employees. The determination of the number of full-time employees is based on the prior year. Further, an employer may take any consecutive six-month time frame during 2013 to determine if they will be subject to the large employer requirements in 2014.

The term “Pay or Play” refers to the requirement for large employers to offer full-time employees “adequate” and “affordable” coverage; or pay excise tax penalties for failing to do so. IRC §4980H & IRC §4980H (b) outline the applicable excise tax penalties for such employers. The penalties will be imposed when employees who do not have access to “adequate” and “affordable” coverage receive a tax credit for exchange-based coverage. Only citizens and legal U.S. residents who are not eligible for Medicaid and whose household income does not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level are eligible for exchange based tax credits.
The potential tax penalties foremployers are as follows:

Employers who do not offer coverage: An assessment of $2,000 per full-time employee per year will be charged to groups provided that at least one employee obtained a tax credit for coverage through the state or federal exchange. This fee will not apply to the first 30 full-time employees.

Employers who offer coverage that is “inadequate” or “unaffordable”: $3,000 per employee per year for each employee who obtains a tax credit for coverage through the state or federal exchange. Affordable means that the employee contribution for the lowest cost qualified plan does not exceed 9.5% of the employee’s prior year or annualized W2 wages as per the proposed IRS Safe Harbor rules. WWW can provide a pay or play analysis for you if you believe you may have an issue with a lower paid portion of your workforce.

Transitional relief will be provided for large employers who currently offer a non-calendar year plan. Such employers will not be liable for tax penalties under §4980H(b) for any months prior to the first day of their plan year beginning in 2014, so long as the 2014 plan is both “adequate” and “affordable”.


In the coming weeks, plan sponsors should anticipate a flood of regulations which are expected to provide clarity on the above and other long-awaited topics such as the non-discrimination rules, testing framework to ensure that benefit plans do not discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees, and further clarification on the look forward/look back eligibility requirements to determine whether an organization is a large employer.

Amidst the uncertainty, it is clear that employers will see premium increases in 2014 when PPACA is fully implemented. While there are a variety of options to mitigate PPACA’s cost impact, employers must be mindful of employment law and ERISA implications when making such changes. Preplanning is essential. Employers considering workforce realignment, reduction in work-force, or benefit modifications should be discussing approaches with their consultants and advisors now. Proper compliance will likely require implementing certain changes in 2013 in order to satisfy any applicable “look-back” period requirement for 2014.

Wallace Welch & Willingham remains your committed partner
in PPACA compliance and looks forward to working with
each client on proper PPACA planning and strategy.

When signing a subcontractor agreement, what concerns should I have regarding an indemnification clause or subcontractor agreement?

The scope and liability contained in a subcontractor agreement range widely, from very simple to the complex and punitive. Before signing a subcontractor agreement you should be aware of your responsibilities and liabilities imposed by that contract and whether your company has the means to accept the financial consequences and/or how your insurance will respond.

Definitely understand what risk you accept in the indemnification language. Typically the upstream party will impose an indemnification and hold harmless clause that at least requires you to indemnify them for liabilities where you are at least partially negligent. This may mean an indemnification for only your proportionate responsibility or upwards of their full sole negligence. Imagine your employee removes a safety barrier on a project in order to receive materials at the 3rd floor of a project, and fails to replace the safety barrier. Later an employee for another subcontractor, unaware the barrier has been removed, falls from the side of the building. That injured employee will likely see workers’ compensation and file a lawsuit against the building owner/contractor for negligence. If an indemnification agreement exists between the owners/contractor and you, you can expect the claim to be tendered to you for defense and indemnification. How will your insurance respond?

Your insurance coverage is equally important to the indemnification clause in the subcontractor agreement. If signing a broad (includes sole negligence of the owner) form indemnity agreement, then your insurance coverage should be the broadest available, with sufficient limits, as the indemnification agreement you have signed. This means your policies should include blanket waiver of subrogation for Auto, Work Comp, and General Liability, to prevent you insurance companies from tendering claims against the owner for their negligence that the owner will simply tender back to you under the indemnification agreement. Your policies should also include broad additional insured coverage to provide coverage for ongoing and completed operations (without a limitation of time after construction is completed) and provide coverage on a primary and non-contributory basis. Finally your policy should never include exclusions or restrictions that would place your company at financial risk due to an uncovered loss or an indemnification agreement. Examples of such exclusions/restrictions would be:

1)  Modification of the definition of “insured contract”, which reduces your liability coverage to respond when you are negligent “in whole or in part”. If you have signed an indemnification agreement to respond for the Owners/Contractors “sole negligence”, you may have a gap in coverage.

2)  Exclusion for residential construction. This would eliminate/reduce completed operations coverage for your work.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled… what’s next?

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled... what's next?The individual mandate will stand as a “tax” versus commerce and Affordable Care Act will move ahead.  With all the fanfare Employers are beginning to plan for their next steps.

Some next steps Employers need to be thinking about:

1). Review your benefit offerings to make sure they meet the guidelines of essential coverage.

2). Watch your mail for notice of the MLR rebate and determine how you will distribute if your
plan qualifies.

3). Confirm with your carrier that your plan has been amended to comply with the Women’s Preventive Care provisions.  Must comply as plans renew beginning 8/1/12.

4.) Be on the lookout for your new Summary of Benefits and Coverage. Carriers are required to provide these for open enrollments/plan years beginning 9/23/12.

5.) If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) you will need to check the allowable maximum. It is now restricted to $2,500 per person up to $5,000 per family.

6.) Employers who submit 250 or more W2 for 2012 must include the value of health care coverage in box 12 on employees W2. Check with your payroll vendor to make sure this amount can be tracked and reported.

Looking further ahead 2014 marks the deadline for many of the major provisions in Obama Care. Individual mandates begin, wellness initiatives are strengthened, automatic enrollment is mandated, waiting periods are restricted, penalties for NOT providing coverage begin, exchanges roll out, pre-existing provisions are eliminated and premium subsidies for lower income individuals become available.

Wallace Welch and Willingham is monitoring the events as they unfold and will keep you up to date on steps towards compliance. We welcome your questions and will be happy to assist.

This legislation still has many voids and unanswered issues. We anticipate seeing significant clarification and revision.  The 2012 presidential election could also have significant impact on the Affordable Care Act. So, for some employers “wait and see” may still be the best next step.