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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Forbes | July 16, 2014
Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kate Saracene provides commentary in this column addressing wellness programs.
Law360 | June 18, 2014
Rochester Labor & Employment attorneys Jo Ann Butler, Brian Kopp and Kate Saracene authored this column discussing two recent government announcements that aid employers’ ability to steer COBRA-eligible individuals, discuss the future role of COBRA and explore proactive ways that employers might encourage COBRA-eligible individuals to elect marketplace coverage.
Benefits Law Alert | 01.26.16
Benefits Law Alert | 01.07.16
Benefits Alert | 12.10.15
Benefits Law Alert | 04.24.15
Benefits Law Alert | 07.14.14
Benefits Alert | 06.04.14
05.18.17 | Rochester, NY
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Yale Law School, J.D.
Cornell University, B.S., Industrial and Labor Relations
U.S. District Court, Western District of New York