Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 2, 2010


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Employee Benefits Producer Training Program


Employee Benefits Producer Training Program

April 19-30, 2010 ∙ Brookfield (Milwaukee), Wisconsin
The new Employee Benefits Producer Training Program brings together the best in insurance sales training and employee benefits education in an intensive two-week program. Co-sponsored by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, the one-of-a-kind curriculum provides attendees with essential sales skills and valuable employee benefits industry knowledge that will result in new revenue, customers and sales.
Learn More.

International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


[Official Guidance]
Text of Interim Final Regulations Under Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (Typeset Version in Federal Register) (PDF)
43 pages. Excerpt: "This document contains interim final rules implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires parity between mental health or substance use disorder benefits and medical surgical benefits with respect to financial requirements and treatment limitations under group health plans and health insurance coverage offered in connection with a group health plan. . . . These interim final regulations are effective on April 5, 2010. Comment date. Comments are due on or before May 3, 2010. . . . These interim final regulations generally apply to group health plans and group health insurance issuers for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010." (Employee Benefits Security Administration; Internal Revenue Service; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

[Guidance Overview]
Regulations Clarify Mental Health Parity Act
Excerpt: "Mental health and substance abuse care can't be handled differently from medical and surgical treatment, according to the new rules. Also, employee assistance programs cannot serve as mental health care gatekeepers, benefit experts say." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

[Guidance Overview]
DOL, Treasury Officials Address COBRA Subsidy Extension Questions during Webcast
Excerpt: "Another item of note identified at the January webcast concerns the health coverage tax credit (HCTC). Some individuals who are eligible for the COBRA subsidy also qualify for the HCTC and might want to choose this more generous benefit, instead. The HCTC pays 80% of health insurance premiums for those who qualify." (Wolters Kluwer)

Bill Calls for Ensuring Flexible Spending Account Funds Go with Departing Employees
Excerpt: "The bill also would require that the funds distributed to an employee on leaving a job are included in gross income for that taxable year. The language in the bill suggests that the legislation would include both employees who were fired and those who left their jobs voluntarily." (Investment News; free registration required)

Why The 3rd Circuit's Unisys Decision Defies ERISA (PDF)
Excerpt: "[The article is a discussion of] the Third Circuit's recent decision in In re Unisys Corporation Retiree Medical Benefits ERISA Litigation, which will impact ERISA's disclosure scheme." (Law360 via Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Obama Proposes Second COBRA Premium Subsidy Extension
Excerpt: "Under the latest extension -- embedded in the administration's proposed federal budget for fiscal 2011 -- employees who are laid off from March 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2010, would be eligible for the 65% premium subsidy for up to 12 months." (Business Insurance)

Michigan Cost-Cutting Moves Include Public Worker Health Care Changes
Excerpt: "In her latest agenda, announced Friday, Granholm proposes to increase state employee participation in 'a new health-care plan that maintains critical benefits for new state workers and their families while reducing the cost to state government by 21 percent.' Granholm says local government, school, university, and other public employees will be given the option to participate in the new health care plan. In addition, Granholm has proposed eliminating lifetime health care for legislators." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

New Rules Promise Better Mental Health Coverage
Excerpt: "The rules apply to group health insurance plans of the kind typically offered by employers. Federal health officials said the rules did not apply to the individual insurance market, where policies are sold directly to individuals and families. However, some states have laws that apply to the individual market." (The New York Times; free registration required)

As Obesity Rates Rise Alongside Health Care Costs, Slimmer People Are Saying Enough Already
Excerpt: "As more people over the last decade have tipped the scales toward obesity, normal weight folks have signed up for employee wellness programs that offer them lower premiums and other financial perks as a reward for their healthy weight -- and that indirectly penalize heavier workers." (Los Angeles Times)



COBRA Premium Subsidy Extended: What Needs Immediate Attention


COBRA Premium Subsidy Extended: What Needs Immediate Attention

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2010 extends the COBRA premium subsidies that were enacted last year in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The new law is retroactive (as if included in the ARRA) and will require immediate attention from plan sponsors and their COBRA administrators. The International Foundationís e-learning course will focus on what plan sponsors need to do to administer those requirements.

International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

Budget Calls for More Data on Federal Employee Satisfaction and Health
Excerpt: "President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request includes plans to survey larger samples of government workers more frequently on job satisfaction and to evaluate the federal health insurance program by assessing the well-being of enrollees. According to the budget, beginning this year the Obama administration will administer the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey annually, instead of every other year, and will increase the number of employees who receive the questionnaire." (GovernmentExecutive.com)

COLI Bill Moves to House Subcommittee
Excerpt: "Called the Employer Owned Life Insurance Limitation Act, HR 3669 would prohibit employers from taking out life insurance on all employees except those making more than $1 million annually. For those workers, a company would have 30 days to notify the employee of the policy." (Investment News; free registration required)

Cell Phone Use Income Tax Reported on the Way Out
Excerpt: "The law classifying as taxable income personal calls made on an employer-provided cell phone appears headed for the legislative trash heap." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

Employee Ownership Update for February 1, 2010
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses the following (and more): Cooperative Home Care Associates and Staples are examples of employee ownership companies that help low-income employees with matters such as tax returns. The IRS recently issued Notice 2010-6, which establishes a document correction program for nonqualified deferred compensation programs under Internal Revenue Code Section 409A. If it difficult for employees to meet to share ideas regularly, software can help. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

[Opinion]
How to Address Compensation Risk in this Year's Proxy Statement
Excerpt: "The final rule requires a company to address its compensation policies and practices for all employees, including non-executive officers, if the compensation policies and practices create risks that are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on the company. . . . However, what public company in the US would state in its proxy that 'our compensation policies and practices create risks that are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on the company'? The answer is: none." (Michael Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)


Webcasts and Conferences


Annual ERISA Plan Audits
in California on February 17, 2010
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference - Orange County Chapter

Medicare A-Z: Part II with Craig J. Davidson, CEBS
Nationwide on February 2, 2010
presented by FutureOffice Network

Click to post your webcast or conference


Press Releases


US Labor Department Seeks Public Comments on Lifetime Income Options for Retirement Plans
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Council Commends Presidentís Focus on Retirement Saving, Urges Investment in Employer-sponsored Benefits System
American Benefits Council

Businesses Lose Billions Annually for Health Costs Related to Caregiving: MetLife Study
MetLife

Millennium Trust Reports Record Growth of Automatic Rollover Solution
Millennium Trust Company, LLC

The Value Quotient Announces Release of CLIENTconnect Fiduciary Management Solutions
The Value Quotient

Click to post your press release


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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs


401K ESOP Manager
for Daymon Worldwide
in CT

Retirement Plan Administrator/Consultant
for PenServ, Inc.
in NY

Plan Compliance Consultant
for Carpenter Morse Group
in FL

401(k)/Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for Providence, RI
in RI

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