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H.R. 2578 (115th): Employee Benefits Protection Act of 2017

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 19, 2017.

Employee Benefits Protection Act of 2017

This bill amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to require the mandatory summary description of a group health plan to specify: (1) whether the plan permits either the plan sponsor or any participating employer to unilaterally modify or terminate plan benefits affecting employees, retirees, and beneficiaries; and (2) when and to what extent plan benefits are fully vested with respect to these individuals.

In law suits involving group health plan benefits, a presumption is established that as of the date an employee retires or completes 20 years of service with the employer, retiree health benefits are fully vested and cannot be modified or terminated. This presumption may be overcome only upon a showing that the employee, before becoming a plan participant, was made aware that the plan allowed for a modification or termination of benefits.

The bill amends the National Labor Relations Act to make it an unfair labor practice for a labor organization and any employer to enter into an agreement to modify a previous agreement in a manner that results in a reduction or termination of retiree health insurance benefits, if the modification occurs after the retiree's retirement date.