Howard D. Bye-Torre


Howard Bye-Torre is Of Counsel with the firm. His practice focuses on assisting clients with employee benefit matters relating to cafeteria, health and other welfare plans. Howard writes and speaks extensively on federal health care reform, HIPAA, COBRA, Medicare Part D, Medicare Secondary Payer, wellness programs, same-sex marriage and domestic partner issues, ERISA, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other state and federal law benefit topics. In addition to his work with ERISA plans, he has extensive experience with governmental and church plans.

Previously, Howard was senior editor at the Employee Benefits Institute of America, Inc. (2007), and equity shareholder with Cox Smith Matthews Incorporated (1985-2007).

Representative Work

  • Representation of two major associations of Washington local governments, local school and other governmental districts, regional transit authorities, a municipally owned water system and a large municipal electric utility in all health and welfare plan matters.
  • Representation of nationwide church group health plan for employees and separate plan for retirees, including plan and other document preparation and state and federal law compliance matters.
  • Drafting of summary plan descriptions, plans and other documents for large national companies.
  • Advising on health care reform issues for employers and their group health plans.
  • Formation of health care purchasing consortium of five large employers to negotiate discounts for their self-funded health plan participants.
  • Compliance with federal health care reform, ERISA, HIPAA, COBRA, USERRA, Medicare Secondary Payer, Medicare Part D, ADA, FMLA and ADEA for group health plans and employers.
  • HIPAA, COBRA and Medicare Part D training for boards of directors, executives and employee benefits and human resources personnel.
  • Drafting and negotiation of contracts (including HIPAA business associate agreements) with plan service providers, such as TPAs, utilization reviewers, pharmacy benefit managers, HSA banks, investment managers, custodians and PPO and similar provider networks.
  • Representation of clients in all aspects of cafeteria plans, dependent care reimbursement plans and medical flexible spending account plans, including grace period and debit card issues.

Professional Honors & Activities

  • Member, Editorial Board, The Health Lawyer, American Bar Association Health Law Section, 2006-present
  • Vice Chair, Coordinating Committee on Diversity, American Bar Association Health Law Section, 2011
  • Liaison to the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, American Bar Association Health Law Section
  • Member, The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation
  • Member and Fellow, College of the State Bar of Texas, 1993-2010


  • "Employer Health Plans in the Time of Exchanges: Employer Impacts," EBIA National Webinar, Oct. 2015
  • "Welfare Plan Issues for Same-Sex Married Couples: The Impact of Windsor and Obergefell," National Webinar Sponsored by Greater Council of Western Pension and Benefits Governing Board, Oct. 2015; Western Pension & Benefits Council Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, July 2015 
  • "Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses and Domestic Partners: Supreme Court and EEOC Impacts," EBIA National Webinar, Sept. 2015 
  • "Health Care Reform and More: 2016 and Beyond," Washington Counties Insurance Fund Healthcare Reform Seminar, Yakima, WA, July 2015
  • "Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses: Considerations After Windsor and Obergefell," EBIA Advanced Cafeteria Plans and Benefits National Conference, Minneapolis, MN, July 2015
  • "What's an Employee (or Retiree) to Choose? The Interaction of Employer-Provided Group Health Plans with Marketplace Coverage, COBRA and Medicare," Western Pension & Benefits Council, Seattle Chapter, Mar. 2015
  • "Avoiding Medicare Mistakes: What Plan Sponsors and Advisors Need to Know," EBIA National Webinar, Feb. 2015
  • "COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans" and "HIPAA Privacy and Security," EBIA In-Person Seminars, 2009-2015 
  • "COBRA After Health Care Reform: Impact and Implications for Employer Plans," EBIA Webinar, July 2014
  • "Health Care Reform: Do You Play -- Or Do You Pay?" Association of Washington Business Webinar, May 2014
  • "Health Care Reform: Version 2.0," Stoel Rives Seminar, Seattle, WA (Apr.), Salt Lake City, UT (May), 2014
  • "Legal Basics for HR Benefits Beginners," Western Pension & Benefits Council Spring Seminar, Seattle Chapter, Apr. 2014
  • "HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care," EBIA In-Person Seminars, Apr. 2013 and Mar. 2014 
  • "Game Change: Understanding Exchanges & 2014 Health Plan Rules," Employee Benefits Planning Association Seminar, Dec. 2013
  • "Game Change 2014: Ups and Downs of Health Care Reform," PUD-MUNI Attorneys Conference, Dec. 2013
  • "Wellness Trends and Updated Rules for 2014," Washington Public Employer Labor Relations Association, Nov. 2013
  • "HIPAA Privacy Regulations: Protecting and Using Confidential Health Plan Information in the Workplace," ABA Labor and Employment Law Conference, Nov. 2013
  • "Legal Update: Wellness Program Rules for 2014 - New HIPAA Regulations," Healthy Worksite Summit, Oct. 2013
  • "Game Change 2014: Preparing Your Health and Welfare Plans," Western Pension & Benefits Council, Seattle Chapter, Sept. 2013
  • "Supreme Court Invalidates DOMA Impacts for Employer-Sponsored Benefit Plans," EBIA Webinar, July 2013
  • "Health Care Reform Game Change 2014: Are You Ready?," Western Pension & Benefits Council, Seattle Chapter, Apr. 2013
  • "Best Practices: Working with LGBTQ Clients - Employee Benefits: Health and Welfare Plan Issues," WSBA SOGILI Section CLE Seminar, Feb. 2013
  • "New Final Regulations on HIPAA Privacy and Security: HITECH, Breach Notification, Individual Rights, and More," EBIA Webinar, Feb. 2013
  • "Health Care Reform: Group Health Plan Updates," Stoel Rives Health Care Reform Seminars, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Minneapolis and Boise, 2010-2013
  • "Same-Sex Marriage, Registered Domestic Partnerships & Committed Intimate Relationships: What You Need to Know Now - Employee Benefits: Health and Welfare Plan Issues," WSBA-CLE Seminar, Dec. 2012
  • "Challenges to the Validity of DOMA, Planning for Impacts on Domestic Partner Benefits," EBIA Webinar, Sept. 2012
  • "Health Care Reform Law Alert: Impact on Employers and Group Health Plans," Human Resources Council for the Association for Washington Business, Seattle, Aug. 2012
  • "Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act: What's New in 2012," ALI-ABA Webinar, Aug. 2012
  • "Domestic Partner Coverage in Light of DOMA Challenges," EBIA Advanced Cafeteria Plans and Benefits Conference, Seattle, July 2012
  • "Health Care Reform Latest Developments," Washington State Association of Counties Health Benefits Forum, June 2012
  • "Health Care Reform: Group Health Plan Update Spring 2012," Western Pension & Benefits Council, Seattle and Portland Chapters, Apr. and May 2012
  • "Same Sex Marriage, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships: Benefits Plan Design and Litigation Issues (Health and Welfare Plan Issues)," ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Teleconference, Mar. 2012
  • "New W-2 Health Benefits Reporting Requirements," ALI-ABA Webinar, Jan. 2012
  • "Wellness Benefits: Are Employers in Compliance in Today's Environment?," ALI-ABA Webinar, July 2011
  • "Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act: Where We Are Now," ALI-ABA Webinar, Mar. 2011
  • "HIPAA Privacy and Security Training: Basic Rules for Handling Group Health Plan PHI," EBIA Webinar, Jan. 2011


  • Contributing author, Group Health Plans: Federal Mandates Other Than COBRA & HIPAA, Thomson Reuters/EBIA, 2014-present
  • Contributing author, Self-Insured Health Plans, Thomson Reuters/EBIA, 2012-present
  • Contributing author, Employee Benefits for Domestic Partners: Design, Taxation and Administration, Thomson Reuters/EBIA, 2009-present
  • Contributing author, HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security, Thomson Reuters/EBIA, 2007-2014
  • Quoted in "Supreme Court May Get Another Gay Rights Case Soon," Law360, June 24, 2016
  • "Helping Employees and Patients Navigate New Waters: The Interaction of Marketplace Coverage, COBRA and Medicare" (coauthor), The Health Lawyer, Feb. 2015
  • "The Demise of DOMA: Windsor's Effect on Employee Benefits" (coauthor), The Health Lawyer, Apr. 2014
  • "Expert Q&A on Employee Benefits After the U.S. Supreme Court's DOMA Ruling," Practical Law Company, Oct. 1, 2013
  • "Expert Q&A on Employee Benefits After the Supreme Court's Ruling that DOMA is Unconstitutional," Practical Law Company, July 10, 2013
  • "Health Plans 2012: Healthcare Reform Continues" (coauthor), The Health Lawyer, Apr. 2012
  • Contributor, "Affidavits 'Falling Out of Favor' in Proving Domestic Partnership, Speaker Says," Bloomberg BNA, Pension and Benefits Reporter, Mar. 20, 2012
  • "Ninth Circuit: California's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Violates U.S. Constitution," EBIA Weekly, Feb. 2012
  • Contributor, "Large Employers Advised to Prepare Now For Reporting Aggregated Health Benefits," Bloomberg BNA, Jan. 24, 2012
  • "Health Care Reform: New IRS Guidance on W-2 Reporting of Health Care Coverage" (coauthor), Washington Healthcare News, May 2011, reprinted in Association of Washington Cities Employee Benefit Trust e-newsletter (For Your Health), July 2011
  • "Federal Healthcare Reform Begins for Health Plans" (coauthor), Washington Healthcare News, Dec. 2010
  • "Health Plans 2011: Healthcare Reform Begins" (coauthor), The Health Lawyer, Oct. 2010
  • "Health Plans 2010: Host of New Federal Laws" (coauthor), The Health Lawyer, Apr. 2010
  • "Shopping Abroad for Medical Care: The Next Step in Controlling the Escalating Health Care Costs of American Group Health Plans?," The Health Lawyer, Apr. 2007

Civic Activities

  • Church organist, Zion Lutheran Church of Kent


  • University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1985, high honors,
    Order of the Coif
  • Wartburg College, Bachelor of Music, 1977, piano performance, summa cum laude


  • Washington
  • Texas

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