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House Version of Must-Pass Spending Package Includes Retirement Plan Lab Provision

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What You Need to Know

  • Congress may tell Labor staffers to come up with ideas for new, more portable retirement plans as part of the 2,741-page bill.
  • The current government spending law expires Friday.

Congress may tell staffers at the U.S. Department of Labor to come up with ideas for new, more portable retirement plans.

The Labor Department retirement plan lab provision is part of the explanatory notes attached to a big new spending package — the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 — that includes a 2,741-page PDF file on the House Rules Committee website.

The CAA 2022 package could also include material from a large collection of smaller PDF files posted on the main House “Bills to Be Considered on the House Floor” website.

House leaders are trying to pass the spending package today, because the law that now funds government operations is set to expire Friday.

The House is also trying to pass a shorter bill that would simply fund the government through March 15, to give the Senate time to work on the bigger spending package.

The retirement plan lab provision is on page 9 of one of two Division H PDFs on the main House bills-to-be-considered site.

House members say in a section of the explanatory notes on “Worker Access to Retirement Plans and Other Benefits,” that many workers lack access to the kinds of retirement plans available through full-time employment.

“The portability of benefits is an important feature of retirement savings, workers compensation, health insurance, income security and other work-related benefits,” according to the text.

The provision would direct the Labor Department chief evaluation officer, the Employee Benefits Security Administration and other department offices to give Congress a detailed report on the problem within six months and provide recommendations for retirement savings plan pilot programs.

Here’s a look at some of the other sections of interest to insurance and retirement specialists.

1. Adjustable Rate (LIBOR) Act

This section, on page 1954 of the Rules Committee PDF, would provide a framework for helping the Federal Reserve Board replacing the Libor interest benchmark program, which is shutting down, with a new benchmark based on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Secured Overnight Financing Rate benchmark program.

2. Senior Fraud Prevention Act of 2022

This section, page 1919 of the Rules Committee PDF, would create a Senior Fraud Advisory Office at the Federal Trade Commission.

The office would help seniors and their caregivers cope with “mail, television, internet, telemarketing and robocall fraud targeting seniors, including descriptions of the most common fraud schemes.”

Another, related section, the “Fraud and Scam Reduction Act” would set up a Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group” that could include any government official, consumer advocate or industry representative approved by the FTC.

3. Medicare COVID-19 Emergency Telehealth Rules Extension

The Medicare program has traditionally been hostile to many types of telehealth providers.

Congress and program managers eased the rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Telehealth Flexibility Extensions, on page 1861 of the House Rules PDF, would extend the emergency telehealth rules until 151 days after the end of the COVID-19 emergency period.

Congress has put some important programs and tax breaks in place by adopting a short-term measure, and then voting to keep the temporary measure in place over and over again, for years.

The telehealth rule extension provision in the new House spending package suggests that Congress could end up using that approach to keeping the current looser Medicare telehealth approach in place.

4. Money Laundering in the U.S. Real Estate Market

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network provision, on page 5 of the Division E explanatory note PDF on the main House bills-to-be-considered site, could affect financial professionals with clients who invest in real estate.

The section requires FinCEN to “provide regular updates on its efforts to address the vulnerabilities to money laundering that exist in the U.S. real estate market, including regulations for new recordkeeping and reporting requirements for non-financed real estate transactions.”

(Image: Shutterstock)