Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter
January 22, 2010

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The World Congress 7th Annual World Health Care Congress

The World Congress 7th Annual World Health Care Congress

The World Congress 7th Annual World Health Care Congress | April 12 - 14, 2010 | Washington, DC
The MUST attend event for health care government and corporate leaders to formulate business strategies in a
new era of reform and market competition!


World Congress


[Guidance Overview]
Complying with HIPAA Privacy and Security Mandates under the HITECH Act: A Field Guide for Benefits Brokers, Consultants and other Business Associates

Excerpt: "The Act has both raised and broadened the HIPAA compliance bar for business associates. Prior law gave business associates something of a free pass. That was -- as they say -- then. Among other things, business associate agreements will need to be reviewed and updated to comply with HITECH's new rules, and employees with access to PHI will need to be trained. Covered entities and business associates should be aggressively moving to anticipate these rules and to comply with them even in the absence of guidance." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)


[Guidance Overview]
COBRA Subsidy Extension: DOL Sample Notices for Employer Use, and a Look to the Future

Excerpt: "Is This the End of the COBRA Subsidy Program? Not likely. The Senate is scheduled to review the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 (the Jobs Act). If enacted, the Jobs Act would: Further expand the COBRA subsidy program class through the end of June 2010. Expand the class of employees who are eligible for assistance to include certain employees who lose group health plan coverage due to a reduction in hours that is followed by an involuntary termination of employment. Clarify that retiree health coverage does not automatically disqualify an individual from eligibility for a COBRA subsidy." (McGuireWoods LLP)


[Guidance Overview]
CMS Update of Creditable Coverage and Late Enrollment Penalty Guidance

Excerpt: "The recent changes by CMS reflect a tightening of the procedures that apply in determining creditable coverage and the Part D plan sponsor's obligation to collect the [late enrollment penalty]." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)


[Guidance Overview]
IRS Clarification of Employer COBRA Tax Credit for Prior-Year Coverage

Excerpt: "Some considered the IRS position to require an employer to claim the tax credit for the year of the COBRA coverage, even if the premium payment was made in the following year. This would have required employers to file a corrected Form 941 to claim the subsidy if the employer received in 2010 a 35 percent COBRA premium from an assistance eligible individual that related to the prior year's coverage." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)


[Guidance Overview]
Deadline Approaches for Submission of Creditable Coverage Disclosures to CMS (PDF)

Excerpt: "Group health plan sponsors that provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare Part D eligible individuals must annually disclose to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) whether such coverage qualifies as creditable or non-creditable. All plan sponsors that provide prescription drug coverage are required to make this disclosure, even if they do not make coverage available to retirees. Calendar year plans must submit this year's disclosure to CMS by March 1, 2010." (Buck Consultants)


Health Care Reform: Issues for Structuring Interim High-Risk Pools (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "One of the first provisions that would be implemented under federal health reform bills in the House and the Senate would establish a national high-risk pool program to offer coverage to otherwise uninsurable individuals during the interim period between enactment and implementation of broader health care reforms." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Wellness Programs' Role in Retention Cited by Nearly Half of U.S. Workers
Excerpt: "Are wellness programs an effective employee retention tool? The results of a poll released Jan. 14 suggests that they are. In all, 45% of the employees surveyed said they would stay at their jobs longer because of the wellness programs their employers offered." (Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)


Towers Perrin U.S. Legislative Tracking Charts: Health and Welfare, Updated January 19, 2010 (PDF)
23 pages. Except: 'Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress but only a select few are summarized on this chart. This selection represents our best judgment on the likelihood of enactment and the relevance of the issue for employers." (Towers Watson)


Lawyer Sues Federal Office of Personnel Management over Same-S.ex Benefits
Excerpt: "Karen Golinski filed a lawsuit against the OPM on Wednesday for refusing to provide benefits to her wife, the Associated Press reported. The agency said it won't follow a court order to provide the benefits because it believes the order is in violation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act . . . ." (PLANSPONSOR.com)


ERISA Preempts Dentists' Breach of Contract Claims, 11th Circuit Holds
Excerpt: "The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 30 that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act completely preempted dentists' claims - that a health insurer violated Connecticut state law by 'improper down coding' and 'improper bundling' as a means of underpaying dentists who participated in the insurer's network for services the dentists performed related to their ERISA patients - because the dentists' claims implicated the right to payment . . . ." (Mealey's Managed Care Liability Report via LexisNexis)


Senate Bill Takes Aim at Small Employer Insurance Groups
Excerpt: "Congress is taking aim at MEWAs, or Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements, which are cooperative-like entities in which health and other benefits are marketed to groups of small employers." (HCPro, Inc.)


Health Care Reform Obstacles Await in the States: Courts, Laws, Ballot Initiatives
Excerpt: "Mr. Caldara, a veteran Republican organizer, hopes that the GOP victory in the Massachusetts Senate race . . . will kill the [health care] overhaul before it ever reaches President Barack Obama's desk. But should Democrats manage to get a bill through, Mr. Caldara intends to mobilize state voters to block it -- at least within the confines of Colorado. . . . Similar maneuvers are going on across the country, as opponents of the overhaul lay plans to use court challenges, state laws and ballot initiatives to unravel any bill that emerges from Congress." (The Wall Street Journal)




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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Compliance Calendar: Significant Compensation and Benefit Due Dates for 2010 (PDF)

10 pages. Excerpt: "This compliance calendar assumes a plan administered on a calendar year-end basis by an employer with a calendar year-end fiscal year. Events that are non-annual in nature, or directly related to specific circumstances of individual participants (such as retirement forms), are not included in this calendar. In general, the information for pension plans applies to single employer plans; multiemployer plans (i.e., Taft Hartley plans) may be subject to different requirements . . . ." (Hewitt Associates)


[Guidance Overview]
IRS Correction Program for Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans That Violate Section 409A As a Result of Certain Plan Document Failures (PDF)

4 pages. Excerpt: "Based on the guidance and relief provided under the Notice, companies should consider taking the following steps: [1] Confirm with all business units and all relevant departments that severance, employment agreements, reimbursement arrangements, commission plans, bonus plans and deferred compensation plans have been reviewed for compliance with Section 409A. [2] . . . ." (Thompson Hine LLP)


[Guidance Overview]
Annual Information Statements and Returns for Incentive Stock Options and Employee Stock Purchase Plans and Other Reporting Requirements

Excerpt: "These statements must include specific information, which is included in our sample ISO statement and our sample ESPP statement. Information statements may either be mailed to the recipient's last known address or, if the recipient has given his or her consent to receive the statement electronically, provided in electronic format." (Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP)


2009 Legislative and Regulatory Year in Review and the Outlook for 2010
Excerpt: "This two-[document] report, linked to at right [of target page], summarizes key legislative activity at the federal level in 2009 and discusses the legislative outlook for 2010, generally from the perspective of employer-sponsored employee benefit and HR programs. In addition, the report summarizes significant regulatory guidance in 2009." (Hewitt Associates)


Towers Perrin U.S. Legislative Tracking Charts: Human Resources, Updated January 19, 2010
11 pages. Excerpt: "Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress but only a select few are summarized on this chart. This selection represents our best judgment on the likelihood of enactment and the relevance of the issue for employers." (Towers Watson)



Webcasts and Conferences

Employee Benefits for Same-Sex Married Spouses and Domestic Partners
Nationwide on February 10, 2010
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Extension of COBRA Premium Subsidy Rules: How to Keep Turning on a Compliance Dime
Nationwide on January 21, 2010
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

(Click to post your webcast or conference)

Press Releases

Data Show That Automatic Enrollment in 401(k) Plans Has Led to Higher Match Rates from Large Plan Sponsors
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

Transamerica Retirement Services Bests Industry Peers in Prestigious Client Satisfaction Survey
Transamerica Retirement Services

Law Firm Announces Class-Action Lawsuit Against Sterling Financial
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP

New Research Reveals Significant Differences Between Small and Large Defined Contribution Plan Sponsors in Their Understanding of Fiduciary Responsibility
AllianceBernstein

Financial Research Corporation Announces Two Key Appointments
Financial Research Corporation

ShareBuilder 401k Unveils New Fee Program
ShareBuilder 401k

Noted ERISA Attorney Concludes That Great-West Retirement Services' Target Date Funds Help Sponsors Satisfy Fiduciary Duties
Reish and Reicher

(Click to post your press release)

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