Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter
January 15, 2010

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EBIA's Recorded Web Seminars - Quality and Convenience!

EBIA's Recorded Web Seminars - Quality and Convenience!

We know that employee benefits professionals have many demands on their time. To help ease the time-crunch, EBIA's recorded web seminars are available 24/7--any time and any place you have an internet connection. What's more, when you purchase a recorded web seminar from EBIA, you and your co-workers can view it as many times as you wish for 60 days after purchase! Visit our website and you can search for seminars by topic, experience level, or key word.

Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA)


[Official Guidance]
Text of Announcement of Publication of Revised COBRA Model Notices, Including Overview of Proper Usage (PDF)

2 pages. Excerpt: "The packages include the following disclosures: * A summary of ARRA's premium reduction provisions. * A form to request the premium reduction. * A form for plans (or issuers) that permit qualified beneficiaries to switch coverage options to use to satisfy ARRA's requirement to give notice of this option. * A form for an individual to use to satisfy ARRA's requirement to notify the plan (or issuer) that the individual is eligible for other group health plan coverage or Medicare. * COBRA election forms and information, as appropriate." (Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor)


[Guidance Overview]
DOL Update of Model COBRA Notices

Excerpt: "These updated notices reflect the extensions of both the maximum subsidy period and the deadline for becoming eligible to receive the subsidy. They should immediately be substituted for the earlier versions of these notices when notifying COBRA qualified beneficiaries who have not yet received any COBRA election notice. As with the earlier notices, these should be sent to all COBRA qualified beneficiaries, regardless of the qualifying event." (Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP)


[Guidance Overview]
DOL Model Notices for COBRA Subsidy (PDF)

Excerpt: "The model notice includes language about the grace period applicable to individuals who exhausted their COBRA premium subsidy before the enactment of the extension. Inclusion of this language is confusing since recipients of this updated general notice are individuals who will be newly eligible for COBRA and the subsidy." (Buck Consultants)


[Guidance Overview]
New Obligation to Self-Report Excise Taxes for Group Health Plan Failures

Excerpt: "Responsible parties, such as employers, insurers or third-party administrators, must now more than ever take steps to comply with the underlying requirements of law whose violation triggers the excise tax liability. These steps include . . . ." (Jackson Lewis LLP)


[Guidance Overview]
No Right to Jury Trial on ERISA and LMRA Claims for Retiree Health Benefits

Excerpt: "Winnett v Caterpillar, Inc, ____F.Supp.2d____(M.D. Tenn. November 16, 2009), is an important decision to be aware of. The court held that retirees and beneficiaries of Caterpillar, who sought declaratory and injunctive relief for lifetime no-cost retiree health care benefits, were not entitled to a jury trial for claims under ERISA and the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA)." (Adjunct Law Prof Blog)


News Articles About 'Cadillac Health Plan' Excise Tax; Deal Is Reached


Democratic Leaders Reach Compromise on Taxing Health Plans
Excerpt: "The White House and Congressional leaders have reached a tentative deal on a proposed excise tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance plans to be included in the final version of major health care legislation, according to officials familiar with the talks." (The New York Times; free registration required)


Democrats Appear to Reach Deal on 'Cadillac' Tax
Excerpt: "The New York Times is reporting that Democratic congressional leaders and President Barack Obama 'have reached a tentative deal on a proposed excise tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance plans to be included in the final version of major health care legislation, according to officials familiar with the talks.'" (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Accord Reached on Insurance Tax for Costly Health Insurance Plans
Excerpt: "[N]egotiations produced changes to a tax included in the bill passed by the Senate last month. The changes would lessen and delay the impact of the tax on workers and would reduce the amount of revenue collected. The revenue would help finance coverage for millions of people who are uninsured." (The New York Times; free registration required)


Technical Report: Excise Tax on High-Cost Employer Plans in Federal Health Care Reform (PDF)
28 pages. Excerpt: "In order to assist policymakers and the public in determining the implications of the proposed excise tax, a joint work group . . . developed a model to estimate the revenue it would generate. This model also analyzes the possibility that employers would reduce or eliminate benefits in order to avoid paying the tax, which would reduce revenue from the excise tax but could also have other effects. These effects include reducing health care spending and increasing income and payroll taxes to the extent that compensation shifts from health benefits to wages." (American Academy of Actuaries / Society of Actuaries)


[Opinion]
The Unions Strike a Deal and The Truth About the Cadillac Tax

Excerpt: "I analyzed the many myths about the Cadillac tax in an earlier post, but I'm coming back to the subject for two reasons. First, commentators continue to misrepresent the effect that the tax will have, and secondly, it seems that as negotiations come down to the wire, media myths are carrying the day. I would like HealthBeat readers to understand the facts. (Let me emphasize that I'm not alone.)" (Maggie Mahar via The Century Foundation)



First Lady Michelle Obama Promotes Work/Life Balance in Visit to Labor Department
Excerpt: "First lady Michelle Obama urged companies to implement policies that will help their employees better balance work and family obligations during an appearance at the Department of Labor on Thursday, January 14. In an address to about 400 Labor Department employees, Obama also promoted legislation that would guarantee paid sick leave, a measure that has generated concern among HR organizations in Washington." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


A Comparative Analysis of Private Health Insurance Provisions of H.R. 3962 and Senate-Passed H.R. 3590 (PDF)
Excerpt: "Individuals currently receiving health insurance through a large employer would likely see the least direct impact from the bills. The largest changes would occur in the private health insurance market for small businesses and for nongroup coverage (currently, insurance obtained directly from an insurance company, broker or agent). The most substantial of these reforms would not take effect until 2013 under H.R. 3962, and in 2014 under the Senate bill." (U.S. Congressional Research Service via National Conference of State Legislatures)


Episode-Based Payments: Charting a Course for Health Care Payment Reform
Excerpt: "As consensus grows that true reform of the U.S. health care system requires a move away from fee-for-service payments, designing alternative payment methods, including episode-based payments, has emerged as a high priority for policy makers. An episode-based payment approach would essentially bundle payment for some or all services delivered to a patient for an episode of care for a specific condition over a defined period. Ideally, a well-designed episode-based payment system would encourage providers to improve efficiency and quality of care." (National Institute for Health Care Reform)


Groom Presentation: Overview of Health Care Reform
32 page PDF. Excerpt: "Groom Law Group hosted a dial-in for our clients and friends of the firm on Wednesday, January 13th to discuss where health care reform stands at the beginning of 2010. The presentation compared and summarized the key provisions of Senate and House legislation in the areas of insurance market reform, the individual and employer mandates, the Exchange provisions, and tax 'revenue raisers.' A recording of the call is available until February 13th." (Groom Law Group)


[Opinion]
American Academy of Actuaries Letter Highlighting Some Key Differences on Actuarial Issues Between the House's Affordable Health Care for America Act and the Senate's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PDF)

21 pages. Excerpt: "In particular, this letter discusses various aspects of the House and Senate bills, and provides specific comments on provisions related to: issue and rating rules / individual mandate, grandfathering, medical loss ratios, benefit provisions regarding medical necessity, risk sharing, the creation of new health insurance plan options, an excise tax on employer-sponsored insurance, and the CLASS Act. Following is an executive summary of more extensive remarks made later in this document." (American Academy of Actuaries)




THE DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLANS SUMMIT

THE DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLANS SUMMIT

The Defined Contribution Plans Summit taking place February 24-25, 2010 in New York, NY is the perfect platform for corporate and public DC plans to hear from their plan sponsor peers, leading policymakers and top investment executives. Attendees will share ideas through tailored interactive roundtables, benchmark their DC plans through case studies, and network with fellow plan sponsors and investment professionals. For more information please visit www.dcplanssummit.com

IQPC

Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
SEC Rule Changes for 2010: Be Ready to be Held Accountable (PDF)

12 pages. Excerpt: "Although the SEC's final rules made welcome improvements upon a few of the original proposals, the final rules are fairly consistent with the proposed rules. Compliance should be achievable on registrants' regular proxy schedule, provided that directors and officers start the year by establishing a time-and-responsibility schedule for ensuring a thoughtful response to the new rules." (Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP)


New Executive Compensation Disclosure Rules Take Effect with Company Shareholder Proxies This Year
Excerpt: "Perhaps the most impressive fact is that the new information will be available this year. Mary L. Schapiro, the S.E.C. chairwoman, decided to fight her way through bureaucratic delays to get the new rule out just in time for this year's proxy season. Under normal S.E.C. procedures, there is little doubt the changes would have been effective a year from now, not this year." (The New York Times; free registration required)



Webcasts and Conferences

2010 Employee Ownership Conference
in Minnesota on April 19, 2010
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and the Beyster Institute

An Introduction to 401(k) Plan Operation
in California on February 2, 2010
presented by Actuarial Consultants, Inc.

An Introduction to 401(k) Plan Operation
in California on February 17, 2010
presented by Actuarial Consultants, Inc.

Annual Plan Administration Basic Training
in California on February 2, 2010
presented by Actuarial Consultants, Inc.

Annual Plan Administration Basic Training
in California on February 17, 2010
presented by Actuarial Consultants, Inc.

EA-2B Review Course
in Virginia on April 9, 2010
presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

Getting Ready for 2009 Form 5500 and Electronic Filing, Part IV Webcast
Nationwide on January 21, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

(Click to post your webcast or conference)

Press Releases

PBGC Protects Chesapeake Corp. Pension Plan
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

US Labor Department Administrative Law Judge Rules Bankruptcy and Loss of Records Not a Basis to Waive Civil Penalty
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Starr Global Accident & Health Utilizing Benefit Informatics Data Analysis and Reporting Solutions
Benefit Informatics

EZ-GASB - The Low-Cost Alternative
Lockstone Advisors, LLC

Freedom One Financial Group Adds vWise SmartPlan Enterprise to its Participant Platform
Freedom One Financial Group

OPEBAnswers.com Launched to Help Government Entities Solve Their OPEB Issues
Roundstone Healthcare Partners

(Click to post your press release)

Click to post your job on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Pension Administrator
for Jordan & Associates
in CA

401k/Qualified Plan Wholesaler
for G & T Benefits Group, LLC
in FL, NY

Associate Attorney
for Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, P.C.
in KY

Defined Contribution Administrator
for Rosenfeld/Tortu Retirement Planning Co., Inc.
in NY

Benefit Services Specialist
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

(Click to post your job on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com | View all jobs | RSS feed for jobs RSS feed of all jobs )


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