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Kate Ulrich Saracene



Kate Saracene heads Nixon Peabody’s Health and Welfare Employee Benefits team. She assists employers, insurance brokers, third-party administrators, and multiple employer arrangements with benefit plan compliance. Kate is frequently quoted and published in national and local publications and regularly presents to regional and national audiences.

What do you focus on?

Today, I focus on plan design and operational compliance with health care reform mandates and many other laws that govern employee benefit programs. Drawing on my prior experience in human resources and as a labor and employment attorney, I lend a unique perspective to balancing legal compliance with business operations and advising clients where labor and employment law and employee benefits intersect.

Single Employer Plan Design and Compliance

I work with organizations of all types and sizes to determine whether they have a legal obligation to offer benefits to their employees and, if so, to ensure their plans are compliant. I not only draft plan documentation like summary plan descriptions and enrollment materials, but also assist with business strategy, such as how corporate structure affects legal obligations, or how plan design affects employee behavior and profitability.  I also represent employers in negotiations for service contracts with third party administrators and in collective bargaining with unions regarding employee benefits.

Broker and Third-Party Administrator Services

I advise a number of insurance brokers and third party administrators regarding the services they provide to employee benefit plan sponsors. I draft their service provider contracts, help design their service offerings, provide templates for required notices, plan documents and summary plan descriptions, and counsel them regarding legal mandates affecting their clients.

Multiple Employer Plans

One of the fastest-growing areas of my practice involves working with a number of employer associations and union multiemployer plans to form and operate benefit plans that cover employees of multiple employers. This is an area with an increasing amount of regulation.

Government Audits and ERISA Litigation

I represent clients before regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service. I also represent clients and their insurance companies in federal court in the event that an employee benefit plan is sued by a participant in a dispute over benefits.

Wellness Program Compliance

Wellness programs are one of the fastest-growing areas in employee benefits. I help employers, third party administrations, insurance companies and consultants design and implement wellness programs that comply with the nine different federal laws (and in some cases, additional state laws) that govern this area. Because this area lies at the intersection of labor & employment law, employee benefits law and tax law, my background makes me uniquely suited to advise on these varying sources of regulation.

Mindful Lawyering Programs

I’ve incorporated my skills as a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor to develop Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs to educate members of the legal profession on mindfulness practices and how they can contribute to a thriving law practice. I’ve presented to bar associations, law firms and in-house counsel regarding the unique characteristics of the legal profession that make mindfulness training especially beneficial. My programs combine ethics credits with the basics of meditation, yoga and other mindfulness techniques to help attorneys balance their law practice, their health and their personal lives.

What do you see on the horizon?

Health care reform rules are going to continue to change at a rapid pace. Employers need to be agile and ready to respond to the changes ahead, which may cause them to rethink how and why they offer health coverage. Employers will continue to gravitate toward high deductible health plans, and will use wellness programs and other tactics like self-funding to manage claims costs.

Publications

  • “EEOC proposes regulations addressing ADA compliance for wellness programs,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Alert, April 24, 2015 (Co-Author)
  • “Wellness programs after the Affordable Care Act (Part II),” Nixon Peabody Benefits Alert, July 14, 2014 (Author)
  • “Special Marketplace enrollment for COBRA participants and new COBRA forms,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Alert, June 4, 2014 (Co-Author)
  • “Be Prepared: DOMA ruling has important implications,” Rochester Business Journal, August 30, 2013
  • “Wellness programs after the Affordable Care Act (Part I),” Nixon Peabody Benefits Alert, August 8, 2013 (Author)
  • “What’s new with the Affordable Care Act?” Employee Benefits Plan Review, August 2013 (Co-Author)
  • “Employer health care mandate and reporting requirements delayed until 2015,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Alert, July 3, 2013 (Co-Author)
  • “The Supreme Court strikes down DOMA—what it means for employee benefit plans,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Alert, June 28, 2013 (Co-Author)
  • “What's new with the Affordable Care Act?,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Alert, May 20, 2013 (Co-Author)
  • “Health care changes are coming in '14,” Democrat and Chronicle, Nextpert Column, May 19, 2013
  • “ACA Checkup Can Help Keep Firm Healthy,” Providence Business News, April 8, 2013 (Co-author)
  • “What to Look for in Health Care Reform Mandates Next January,” Rochester Business Journal, March 15, 2013 (Co-author)
  • “Anticipate Requirements Now for Employer Group Health Plans,” Rochester Business Alliance May/June Newsletter, April 30, 2012 (Author).
  • “Children’s Health Insurance Law Adds to Employer’s Burden,” Rochester Business Journal, May 8, 2009, page 17 (Co-author).

Presentations

  • “Employee Wellness Programs: What Employers Need to Know to Comply with the New Regulations,” Mid-Sized Retirement and Healthcare Plan Management Conference, September 25-28, Las Vegas, NV
  • “Choosing the Right Account-Based Health Plans: Tricks, Traps and Tradeoffs of FSAs, HSAs and HRAs,” Mid-Sized Retirement and Healthcare Plan Management Conference, September 25-28, Las Vegas
  • “What Plan Sponsors Need to Know About the New DOL Fiduciary Rule” (with Christian Hancey), Mid-Sized Retirement and Healthcare Plan Management Conference, June 14-17, Chicago, IL
  • “Pre Conference Tutorial: Fiduciary Obligations Under ERISA,” Change is on the Horizon: What’s Your Game Plan?, Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference, May 1-4, 2016, Orlando, FL
  • “Employee Wellness Programs: What Employers Need to Know to Comply with the New Regulations,” Change is on the Horizon: What’s Your Game Plan?, Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference, May 1-4, 2016, Orlando, FL
  • “What Next for Employers Under PPACA?” Change is on the Horizon: What’s Your Game Plan?, Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference, May 1-4, 2016, Orlando, FL
  • “Choosing the Right Account-Based Health Plans: Tricks, Traps and Tradeoffs of FSAs, HSAs and HRAs,” Change is on the Horizon: What’s Your Game Plan?, Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference, May 1-4, 2016, Orlando, FL

How your minor health incentives can leave you wide open to major legal trouble

HRMorning | May 30, 2017

This article is about company wellness programs and highlights a recent presentation by Rochester labor and employment partner Kate Saracene which outlined employers’ compliance obligations and issues they may encounter.

Sneaky pitfalls that can turn your FSA plan into a compliance nightmare

HR Morning | May 12, 2017

This article is about Rochester labor and employment partner Kate Saracene’s presentation on company FSA plans at the Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Nextpert: Affordable Care Act reporting deadlines draw near

Democrat and Chronicle | February 28, 2016

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kate Saracene contributed this column which describes a new set of requirements for employers under the Affordable Care Act.

Washington Oks last-minute changes to health care rules

Rochester Business Journal | January 04, 2016

Rochester partner and leader of our Health and Welfare Employee Benefits team, Kate Saracene provides commentary in this feature article discussing the potential impact of recent changes to the Affordable Care Act.

Employers Stay on Path as ACA Upheld

Buffalo Law Journal | July 06, 2015

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kate Saracene discusses the impact on employers.

For Firms, King Ruling Means ‘Business as Usual'

Rochester Business Journal | July 02, 2015

Rochester Employee Benefits and Labor & Employment partner Kate Saracene authored this op-ed on the impact on employers following the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision.

Attorneys React To Supreme Court's ACA Save

Law360 | June 25, 2015

Rochester Employee Benefits and Labor & Employment partner Kate Saracene provides commentary on the Supreme Court’s highly-anticipated Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision.

With Supreme Court Case Over, ACA's Loose Ends Are New Target

Crain's New York Business: Health Pulse | June 25, 2015

As the Supreme Court winds down its current term, Rochester Employee Benefits and Labor & Employment partner Kate Saracene discusses the Court’s highly-anticipated Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision.

After Delays, Employer Mandate Kicks in Soon

Business First of Buffalo | November 28, 2014

Rochester partner and Health and Welfare Employee Benefits team leader Kate Saracene is quoted in this end-of-year story on the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate to provide health insurance coverage going into effect Jan. 1.

Employers Bracing for Penalties under the Affordable Care Act

Albany Business Review | August 18, 2014

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kate Saracene provides commentary in this feature story on the top challenges facing employers under the Affordable Care Act.

Contact

Kate Ulrich Saracene

Partner

Rochester

Phone: 585-263-1438


Fax: 866-958-0883

Yale Law School, J.D.

Cornell University, B.S., Industrial and Labor Relations

New York

U.S. District Court, Western District of New York

  • Recipient of The Daily Record’s Top Women in Law award, 2016
  • Recipient of Rochester Business Journal’s “40 under 40” award, 2013
  • Named to Super Lawyers Rising Stars list, Super Lawyers Magazine, 2013
  • Featured in Democrat & Chronicle “Women to Watch,” September 2, 2013
  • Leadership Rochester Program Graduate 2012
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