The DOL’s proposed regulation permitting Association Health Plans which cover unrelated employers is likely to have a significant impact on the market’s ability to offer Multiple Employer retirement plans to unrelated employers. This is because the regulation permits AHPs through the regulatory modification of ERISA’s definition of the term “employer” under Section 3(5).
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The DOL’s advisory Opinion on MEPs in 2012 was specifically premised on the DOL’s interpretation of the definition of “employer,” for health plan (MEWA) purposes. The DOL ‘s position was that it had no authority to redefine their historical definition of employer for MEWA purposes merely for retirement plan purposes, that they were bound by the statute to apply the same “employer” definition to both health plans and retirement plans. Does this mean that the new proposed definition of “employer” will, necessarily, by operation of statute, be expanded for retirement plan purposes as well?
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MEPs are very valuable tools for the right circumstances, and there can be some PEOs which do fit within the DOL’s guidelines. Even better, non-MEP aggregation arrangements are a valuable alternative to MEPs. It is risky behavior, however, to attempt to manufacture an employment bond that doesn’t really exist-especially when there are viable alternatives.
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There is a serious, and important, debate occurring whether, and to what extent, should there be MEP reform following the DOL’s restrictive advisory opinion on the matter in 2012.  There appears to be bi-partisan support for the changes proposed in Senator Hatch’s SAFE Act, which makes wholesale changes to  the current MEP rules, and will

The dust has begun to settle around the DOL’s Advisory Opinion, 2012-4, and a number of different voices have spoken about what the opinion says, and what it doesn’t say. At this point, it may be useful to to put the letter in some context.

The clarity it brings is, in fact, very helpful. What

As you can imagine, I have been asked by a number of folks of my thoughts related to the statements by the DOL in their brief for removal of the fiduciaries in the Hutcheson matter. Besides the observation that this sort of mischief could have (and does happen) regardless of the existence of a MEP,

 Since we first published a MEP whitepaper with TAG Resources a few months back, where TAG coined the term “Open MEP,” much has happened in this marketplace. Most recently, Drinker Biddle published its own (very good) whitepaper on this topic, very much affirming, and going into closer detail on, many of the broad points we