HIPAA Audits Among Core Topics Covered at SPBA’s Annual Spring Meeting

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The Society of Professional Benefit Administrators concluded its annual regulatory-focused meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 1 after hosting nearly 350 participants. HIPAA audits were a focal point of the conference as more of these compliance checks will be conducted in 2016.

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The Spring Meeting always provides a great forum for our TPA members as it gives them direct, face-to-face access to some of the policy makers.

Covering a wide range of regulatory topics that relate to employee health benefit plans, the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators (SPBA) held its annual Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., from March 31-April 1 with approximately 15 speakers on hand.

Topics ranged from the latest Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements to current cyber security measures in the health industry, and speakers hailed primarily from government agencies, but also included some private sector professionals. HIPAA audits were a major focus now that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has launched the second phase of these compliance checks in 2016 on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

“With phase two of the HIPAA Audit Program all over the headlines right now, we knew this would be an issue attendees were eager to hear more about,” said Anne Lennan, SPBA president. “It is definitely something people in the health sector want to understand better and be prepared for.”

The 350 SPBA third party administrator (TPA) members and service partners in attendance were educated on the latest developments related to the next round of HIPAA privacy, security and breach audits, including how the process works as well as how to be prepared for an audit. Participants also learned about government-issued materials and resources they could use to ensure they are following the proper protocol for data privacy and security at their businesses.

The ACA was another area of emphasis at the two-day conference. Discussions included:

  • Employer shared responsibility (“pay or play”) regulations
  • Next steps for applicable large employer (ALE) and minimum essential coverage (MEC) reporting
  • Excise taxes on high-premium plans (aka the “Cadillac” tax)
  • ACA-related litigation risk

Some of the other benefit plan topics explored included: ERISA fiduciary; EEOC and nondiscrimination in health programs; plan documents; and a workshop tailored to Taft-Hartley plans.

“The Spring Meeting always provides a great forum for our TPA members as it gives them direct, face-to-face access to some of the policy makers,” Lennan explained. “They can bring their questions here and come away with a much better understanding of what’s happening in the regulatory world.”

Along with the annual Spring Meeting, SPBA hosts a Fall Meeting for members that focuses on the operational side of running a TPA firm and encourages peer-to-peer exchange among members.

For more information about SPBA, contact:

General Inquiries – Fred Hunt, SPBA Active Past President, fred(at)spbatpa(dot)org or 301-718-7722

Membership Inquiries – Kathy Strauss, Director of Member Services, kathy(at)spbatpa(dot)org or 301-718-7722

SPBA is the national association of Third Party Administration (TPA) firms that manage client employee benefit plans. It is estimated that over 60% of U.S. workers and their dependents in non-federal health coverage are in plans administered by TPAs. The clients of TPA firms include every size and format of employment, including large and small employers, state/county/city plans, union, non-union, collectively bargained multiemployer plans, as well as most industries and professions.

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Dave Willems
Willems Marketing & Events
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Fred Hunt
Society of Professional Benefit Administrators
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