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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 26, 2010

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HIPAA covered entities, including health plans, health care clearinghouses, and covered health care providers, must comply with the HIPAA Security Rule effective February 17, 2010. This regulation also requires compliance from business associates. If you are responsible for your HIPAA Security Policy and Procedural Manual, this course is essential.

Video: The Health Care Session in 4 Minutes
Excerpt: "Didn't make it through all six hours of the health care session at Blair House? Here are the highlights in video."
(New York Times; free registration required)

Text of Report of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance for Employees of State and Local Governments, 2008 (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "The average premium for employer-sponsored health insurance per enrolled employee for family coverage across state and local government employers was $13,183. In 2008, the average employee contribution towards premiums per enrollee in family coverage was $2,190."
(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

[Opinion]
Healthcare Coverage and Cost Discussions Are Blind to Extent of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans
Excerpt: "Only 6 percent of the population actually buys their own insurance. (And for this, we are painting the insurance companies as the villains of this melodrama?) . . . . 66 percent do not have insurance but health benefits, which is not the same thing. Nine percent gets its benefits from government employment, 4 percent from the military and the remaining 43 percent get their benefits from private employment. . . . We're not going to be able to 'get everybody into the pool' because doing that would mean breaking up the system of employment-based health benefits that is protected by ERISA. That 43 percent of the market is staying put."
(The American Spectator)




The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.
Sponsored by ALM

Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

IRS Set To Begin Comprehensive Employment Tax Audits
Excerpt: "This month, the IRS will launch a new employment tax National Research Program . . . . [T]he IRS will randomly select 6,000 taxpayers (2,000 taxpayers in 2010 for the 2008 tax year and 2,000 taxpayers each in 2011 and 2012 for the 2009 and 2010 tax years, respectively) and conduct in-depth audits of those taxpayers' employment tax issues . . . . In addition to identifying organizations that fail to file employment tax returns at all, the comprehensive audits will focus on at least four major employment tax issues: * Classification of workers as employees or independent contractors; * Reasonableness of executive compensation; * Tax treatment and reporting of fringe benefits as tax-free or as taxable compensation; and * Tax treatment and reporting of employee reimbursements."
(Ballard Spahr)

What To Expect from the IRS 'NRP' Fringe Benefits Audit Initiative
Excerpt: "[A]s of December 2009, the IRS was targeting a much narrower (but still fairly broad) list of the more generic broad-based employee fringes including the following: * Employer-provided automobiles; * De minimis fringe awards such as gift cards; * Discounted property or services; * Education assistance offered as (1) educational assistance plans, (2) working condition fringes and (3) scholarships; * Meal reimbursements and travel per diem plans . . . ."
(Employer's Guide to Fringe Benefit Rules, published by Thompson)

Summary of Possible Worker Classification Legislation (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Following closely on the recent IRS announcement of a 3-year worker classification study affecting 6,000 employers, the 2011 Obama Administration Budget includes new legislative proposals to 'increase certainty with respect to worker classification.'"
(Groom Law Group via American Benefits Council)

Fact Sheet from DOL on ERISA Enforcement Results During 2009
Excerpt: "EBSA's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP) encourage the correction of violations of ERISA by providing significant incentives for fiduciaries and others to self-correct. . . . In FY 2009, EBSA received 1,692 applications for the VFCP. The DFVCP encourages plan administrators to bring their plans into compliance with ERISA's filing requirements. More than 2,200 annual reports were received each month in FY 2009. An online filing and payment option added during FY 2009 has made the program even easier to use."
(U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Senate Majority Leader Reid Puts Together New Bill for COBRA Subsidy Extension, Pension Relief
Excerpt: "A new bill being put together by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) would extend the COBRA premium subsidy for laid-off workers and provide pension relief for employers. . . . The draft bill contains provisions that would give employers more time to fund their pension plan obligations."
(PLANSPONSOR)

Robert J. Myers, Actuary Who Shaped Social Security Program, Dies at 97
Excerpt: "In 1934, in the depths of the Great Depression, Mr. Myers was unexpectedly offered a six-week stint on the Committee on Economic Security, a Roosevelt administration panel that was drawing up blueprints for America's first comprehensive social insurance programs. The six-week job turned out to be a career that spanned decades and placed Mr. Myers at the center of America's great debates about the government's role in the economy and how to create public safety nets affordably."
(New York Times; free registration required)


Webcasts and Conferences

HIPAA HITECH Update For Group Health Plans
Nationwide on March 25, 2010
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Leaves of Absence and Employee Benefits: Legal Rules, Compliance Traps, and Plan Design Considerations
Nationwide on February 25, 2010
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

Webinar Explores Benefits of Nutrition for Employee Health
Nationwide on March 4, 2010
presented by DSM Personalized Nutrition, LLC


Press Releases

Pension Agency Achieves $1.36 Billion in Results for Employee Benefit Plans in Fiscal Year 2009
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)


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