Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter
January 14, 2010

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[Official Guidance]
Text of Model Participant Notices About COBRA Premium Reductions (Subsidies), Updated for Extensions Under DOD Appropriation Act

The notices are 'Updated General Notice,' 'Premium Assistance Extension Notice,' and 'Updated Alternative Notice.' Excerpt: "ARRA, as amended by the Department of Defense Appropriation Act, 2010 (2010 DOD Act), mandates that plans notify certain current and former participants and beneficiaries about the premium reduction. The Department created model notices to help plans and individuals comply with these requirements. Each model notice is designed for a particular group of qualified beneficiaries and contains information to help satisfy ARRA's notice provisions, including those added by the 2010 DOD Act." (Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor)


[Official Guidance]
Text of DOL Final Regulations on Participant Contributions, Loan Repayments; 7-Day Safe Harbor for Small Plans (PDF)

Typeset Federal Register version. 10 pages. Excerpt: "This document contains a final regulation that establishes a safe harbor period during which amounts that an employer has received from employees or withheld from wages for contribution to certain employee benefit plans will not constitute 'plan assets' for purposes of [ERISA], and the related prohibited transaction provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. This regulation will enhance the clarity and certainty for many employers as to when participant contributions will be treated as contributed in a timely manner to employee benefit plans. This final regulation will affect the sponsors and fiduciaries of contributory group welfare and pension plans covered by ERISA, including 401(k) plans, as well as the participants and beneficiaries covered by such plans and recordkeepers, and other service providers to such plans." (Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor)


[Guidance Overview]
DOL Gives Small Employers Seven Days to Deposit Retirement Plan Contributions

Excerpt: "The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the publication of a final rule to protect employee contributions deposited to small pension and welfare benefit plans with fewer than 100 participants." (PLANSPONSOR.com)


[Guidance Overview]
DOL Final Small Plan Contribution Safe Harbor Rules

Excerpt: "As under the Proposed Regulations, the Final Regulations require that all plans deposit employee contributions to both retirement and welfare plans as soon as the money can be segregated from the employer's assets, but no later than the 15th business day of the following month. Many employers mistakenly believed that the rule meant they could wait until the later of those two events, but in fact it always meant the earlier of the two." (Kushner & Company)


House-Senate Comparison of Key Provisions in Health Reform Legislation (PDF)
11 pages. Excerpt: "The Tri-Committee House majority staff has prepared a summary document containing a comparison of the major provisions of the House and Senate health reform bills." (National Conference of State Legislatures)


Do Wellness Programs Make Cents?
Excerpt: "While employee health-improvement programs have become more and more popular as a way to contain firms' health-care costs in recent years, very few companies actually know how much their investments in such programs as on-site flu shots and free annual checkups are yielding, according to a recent survey of large employers by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health." (CFO Publishing Corporation)


Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings
Excerpt: "Amid soaring health spending, there is growing interest in workplace disease prevention and wellness programs to improve health and lower costs. In a critical meta-analysis of the literature on costs and savings associated with such programs, we found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent." (Health Affairs)


Paid Sick Leave at Top of the Agenda After Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "After imposing new costs on employers through the health care legislation, many will question the wisdom of Congress even considering inflicting additional costs with new leave mandates. However, pressure will be brought on several fronts for so-called 'family-friendly' initiatives in an election year." (HR Policy Association)


Reform Proposals Clash on States' Role in Health Plans
Excerpt: "Under the Senate legislation, the same state officials who now oversee the insurance market with varying degrees of intensity would be largely responsible for putting into effect and enforcing the new law -- rules intended to give individuals and small businesses access to better, more affordable coverage. Besides running the insurance exchanges, the states would determine which health plans can be offered and how much in premiums the insurers can charge from year to year." (The New York Times; free registration required)


[Opinion]
Will Health Reform Help End U.S. Job Lock?

Excerpt: "In talking about the price tag of proposed health-coverage expansion, it's easy to overlook one of the current system's distortions: Job lock, the phenomenon of workers staying put in their jobs for the medical benefits, even though they might be more satisfied and productive starting their own company or switching to a smaller employer." (MarketWatch, Inc.)


[Opinion]
Excise Tax on 'Cadillac' Health Care Plans Is Bad Idea

Excerpt: "The idea of an excise tax on 'Cadillac' health-care plans sounds like magic. It would raise almost $150 billion over 10 years to help finance health-care 'reform'; it would be paid by employers, insurance companies and 'the rich'; it would help 'bend the cost curve' in the future; and for all I know, it might help regrow hair and cure warts. But if you look at the actual workings of the plan, you come away far less impressed." (The Washington Post; free registration required)




Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

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.

ALM

Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
SEC Final Enhanced Compensation and Corporate Governance Disclosure Requirements

Excerpt: "Note that the SEC stated in the release that under the current CD&A disclosure rules, to the extent that risk considerations are a material aspect of the company's compensation policies or decisions for its named executive officers, the company is required to discuss them as part of the CD&A and will continue to be required to discuss them in the CD&A after the adoption of these amendments." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)



Webcasts and Conferences

2010 IRA and HSA Webinars
Nationwide on January 12, 2010
presented by Collin W. Fritz & Associates, Ltd.

409A Document Correction - How Employers Can Take Advantage of a New IRS Program (Webinar)
Nationwide on January 26, 2010
presented by Ogletree Deakins

Health and Welfare Regulatory Update: New Regulations and Procedures
in New York on January 28, 2010
presented by International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists - NY Metro Chapter

§409A: New Document Corrections Program for Nonqualified Plans
Nationwide on January 28, 2010
presented by BNA, Inc.

(Click to post your webcast or conference)

Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor Sues Defunct Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, Company to Recover Benefit Plan Assets
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Department of Labor Sues Administrators of Elk Grove, Illinois, Company to Recover Former Employees’ Health Care Contributions
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

ASPPA Adds Experts to Recordkeeper Certification Program
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

Veritas Risk Services Launches Health Insurance Captive Program for Equipment Dealers and Distributors
Veritas Risk Services

(Click to post your press release)

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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Administration Team Leader
for Freedom One Financial
in MI

Retirement Plan Account Manager II
for Boston Financial Data Services
in MA

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