February 21-27, 2021: Retirement Security Task Force Recommendations

February 21-27, 2021

This week, there’s no new law but some interesting news about potential future legislation.

The news

Last week, the Retirement Security Task Force released its final report and recommendations. Read the AP News story here, or read the report itself here (pdf). The report finds that by 2030, Wisconsin’s 65-and-older population will increase almost 60%—and much of that population will have no retirement savings, incurring $3.5 billion in additional costs to public benefits programs. To solve this problem, the report recommends:

  1. Incentivizing employers to auto-enroll employees in retirement plans, requiring the employee to opt out instead of opt in (the incentives are left to the legislature to figure out);
  2. Creating WisconsinSaves, an “auto-IRA program” that gives employers a “simple, easy, plug-and-play” retirement plan option to offer;
  3. Creating an “emergency savings tool” for employees, so they don’t have to dip into retirement savings for emergency expenses;
  4. Creating a 401(k) account for every child born in Wisconsin; and
  5. Creating an “e-commerce web platform” for Wisconsinites to shop retirement options and learn about saving.

Legislation & administrative rulemaking

In the state legislature, AB116 was read for the first time and referred to committee. The bill would require DHS to pay for wheelchairs and power mobility devices for recipients of Medical Assistance who reside in a nursing home.

Case law

There were no new published decisions affecting Wisconsin estate planning or elder law this week.

Fair hearing decisions

I haven’t started keeping up with new decisions yet, but I have started summarizing and publishing useful old decisions from the Elder Law & Special Needs Section file cabinet. First up is MRA/135337 (Feb. 10, 2012)—Revocable annuities held in a community spouse’s IRA are not countable.

DHS: ops memos & MEH updates

DHS announced the groups that will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting March 1. In order of priority:

  1. Education and childcare staff,
  2. People enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs,
  3. Some public-facing essential workers,
  4. Non-frontline essential health care personnel, and
  5. Facility staff and residents in congregate living settings.

The 30-day public comment period has opened on DHS’s heightened scrutiny review of a few dozen home- and community-based facilities. These are facilities that are presumed institutional because of their settings, and DHS must show CMS that they are not institutional through this process to get the Medicaid waiver funding for them. Comments are due by March 24.

Publications

On the State Bar Agriculteral Law & Rural Practice Blog, a new blog post by Christine A. Rasmussen was published: Considerations for Farm Clients on the Ever-changing Tax Code. It’s a nice, quick summary of President Biden’s proposed tax changes and their effect on planning (even if you don’t represent farm clients).

A new edition of the Wisconsin Tax Bulletin is out, summarizing new tax laws and changes applying to this tax season.

Other news

The annual Wispact Update CLE will be live webcast Friday, April 30. It’s approved for 7 CLE (1 EPR) and costs $209 for Elder Law & Special Needs Section members. See the schedule and register here. The section also has 5 scholarships available for members new to the field.


That’s all for this week. Let me know what you think of this newsletter. How can I make it useful to you?

—BSW

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