Phyllis Borzi: Lessons From Eight Years At The DOL & Forecasting The Future of Retirement Plans

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With Guest
Phyllis C. Borzi
Former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration 
(2009-2017)

The Honorable Phyllis C. Borzi served as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), an agency that oversees approximately 700,000 private-sector retirement plans, approximately 2.3 million group health plans, and a similar number of other welfare benefit plans that provide benefits to approximately 150 million Americans. As agency head, she oversaw the administration, regulation and enforcement of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). 

Among her other duties as Assistant Secretary of Labor, she represented the Department of Labor in overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance market reforms and other ACA rules affecting employer-sponsored group health plans and she was instrumental in the development of various pension regulations, including the Department’s rule requiring individuals providing financial advice to plan sponsors and retirement investors to act as ERISA fiduciaries.

Ms. Borzi also represented the Secretary of Labor in the Secretary’s role as statutory trustee for the Social Security (OASDI) and Medicare Trust Funds and in the Secretary’s capacity as chair of the Board of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

Previously, Ms. Borzi was a research professor in the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University Medical Center's School of Public Health and Health Services. In that position, she was involved in research and policy analysis involving employee benefit plans, the uninsured, managed care, and legal barriers to the development of health information technology. In addition, she was of counsel with the Washington, D.C. law firm of O'Donoghue & O'Donoghue LLP, specializing in ERISA and other legal issues affecting employee benefit plans, including pensions and retirement savings, health plans, and discrimination based on age or disability.

From 1979 to 1995, Ms. Borzi served as pension and employee benefit counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Labor-Management Relations of the Committee on Education and Labor. In 1993, she served on working groups dealing with insurance reform, workers' compensation and employer coverage in connection with the Clinton Task Force on Health Care Reform.

Ms. Borzi is a charter member and former President of the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel and served on its Board of Governors from 2000-2008; former member and former co-chair of the Advisory Board of the BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter; former member of the Advisory Committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation; and former member of the Advisory Board of the Pension Research Council, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania; and former member of the Board of the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER). In 2007, she was appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and served as a public member of the Administrative Committee for the Goodyear retiree health trust until 2009. 

Ms. Borzi has published numerous articles on ERISA, health care law and policy and retirement security issues and has been a frequent speaker to legal, professional, business, consumer and state and local governmental organizations both in the United States and internationally. An active member of the American Bar Association, Borzi is the former chair of the ABA's Joint Committee on Employee Benefits. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English from Syracuse University and a J.D. from Catholic University Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the law review. Ms. Borzi currently is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Catholic University Law School.  She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Recap, Highlights, and Thoughts

This episode was a real treat for me and hopefully will be for you. I am excited share my conversation with The Honorable Phyllis Borzi, the former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration under President Obama.  We covered a range of topics that regardless of your involvement with workplace retirement plans should keep your interest. I am also proud that while we talked about her time at the DOL, the majority of our focus was looking forward and exploring how her experience can help employers today and those who want to shape the future of the workplace retirement system.  We hit on two pieces of unfinished business Phyllis wished she had more time to work on while she was at the DOL, what the Perez Principle and whether employers also suffer from choice overload in retirement plans.  We also touched on a few topics near and dear to her heart and what she thinks of some of the current retirement proposals in front of congress today to reform the retirement system.  Be prepared for some candid insight and some very different perspective than frankly what I expected going into the conversation.  And don't miss our call to action at the end.  

If you have been enjoying the podcast please mention it to a friend, share on social media or leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.  All of that goes a long way to help grow our audience, attract high-quality guests and keep sharing high-quality timely content.  

Thanks for listening!​​

Sincerely Your Host, 

Rick Unser

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