Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 3, 2010

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EBIA's In Person Seminar Series

EBIA's In Person Seminar Series

EBIA's In Person seminars provide education on employee benefits topics to professionals, including TPAs, attorneys, benefits consultants, human resources managers, plan administrators, insurance professionals, and accountants. For information about CE credit, course materials, speakers, locations, and agenda details, and to register, please visit EBIA's In Person Seminars.

Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA)

[Official Guidance]
DOL Publishes Spanish Version of COBRA Posters and Flyers
The documents appear under 'Posters and Flyers' on the target web page: 'Job Loss Poster (8 1/2 x 11)', 'Job Loss Poster (11 x 17)', 'Flyer for Employers', 'Flyer for Employees', and 'Flyer for Employees on Application for Review'.
(Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Official Guidance]
DOL Publishes Spanish Version of Updated General Notice to Qualified Beneficiaries of COBRA Premium Reduction
Microsoft Word document. The document has been added to the 'COBRA Model Notices' web page (
(Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Official Guidance]
DOL Publishes Spanish Version of COBRA Premium Reduction Fact Sheet
The document has been added to the 'COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance Under ARRA' web page under the heading 'For Employees' (
(Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Guidance Overview]
Podcast: HITECH's Impact on Benefit Brokers and Advisers
Excerpt: "With enforcement of the HITECH rules slated to begin this month, attorney Christine Roberts provides an overview of the requirements and offers some tips on what to do now to prepare."
(Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)

[Guidance Overview]
Number of HITECH Provisions Will Take Effect or Become Subject to Enforcement This Month (PDF)
Excerpt: "Although HITECH's new breach notification requirements took effect September 23, 2009, HHS adopted a non-enforcement policy allowing HIPAA-covered entities and business associates an additional five months -- or until February 22, 2010 -- to come into compliance with these provisions. . . . Action should be taken immediately to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place by that deadline."
(Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]
Trip Abroad with Ill Husband for Faith Healing Was Not FMLA-Protected Leave, District Court Rules
Excerpt: "An employee's seven-week trip to the Philippines with her husband (who indisputably suffered from a serious health condition), ostensibly so that he could participate in a faith healing event at a Catholic 'Pilgrimage of Healing Ministry,' was not protected under the FMLA, a federal district court in Massachusetts has ruled."
(Wolters Kluwer)

[Guidance Overview]
Summary: Interim Final Regulations Implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The interim final regulations issued on Friday replace existing regulations issued in 1997 following the enactment of the MHPA. The interim final regulations generally are effective for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010. Plans maintained pursuant to one or more collective bargaining agreements ratified before October 3, 2008, however, are subject to a delayed effective date; the regulations for such plans are effective for plan years beginning on or after the later of (i) the date on which the last of the collective bargaining agreements relating to the plan terminates (determined without regard to any extensions), or (ii) July 1, 2010."
(American Benefits Council)

[Guidance Overview]
Disability Benefit Change Requires Stronger Proof of Available Work
Excerpt: "A Pennsylvania appellate court has ruled that an employer must provide evidence of actual job openings when trying to prove a worker receiving disability payments can get other employment."

HR's Wish List for 2010 Incudes Wellness Programs
Excerpt: "With the economic forecast slightly improving, recent research finds that HR buyers plan to increase their budgets by 25 percent this year. Corporate social-networking tools, employee-wellness programs, performance-management systems and leadership-development initiatives are among the items on HR's wish list for 2010."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

The Role of ERISA Preemption in Health Reform: Opportunities and Limits (PDF)
Excerpt: "As many states pursue health care reform experiments, ERISA preemption becomes relevant as a potential limit on the scope and type of reforms states are able to enact. The dominant trend in ERISA litigation has been to preempt state legislation and litigation interfering with the administration of private employer sponsored health plans, making large-scale state health care reform initiatives difficult. The purpose of this paper is to examine the trajectory of judicial interpretation of ERISA and to discuss what opportunities exist to facilitate health care initiatives given the constraints of ERISA preemption."
(The O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University)

Disability Insurers, False Claims and Social Security Benefits
Excerpt: "Here's a story worth reading, about a case worth paying attention to, namely the pending First Circuit appeal . . . concerning whether a long term disability insurer - namely Unum - engages in false claims when it instructs beneficiaries to also apply for Social Security disability benefits. Simply put, group long term disability plans routinely require participants applying for LTD benefits to also seek social security benefits, if they qualify, and the plans are structured so that the LTD benefits are off set by the amount of social security benefits received."
(Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm, LLC)

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

Employee Benefits Developments, January 2010
Excerpt: "A brief look at developments in Employee Benefits law from December 2009 and January 2010, including cases, rulings, and opinions."
(Hodgson Russ LLP)

GPS (Guidance, Procedures, Systems): Global Stock Plans book now available
The NCEO has now made available the GPS (Guidance, Procedures, Systems): Global Stock Plans book from the Certified Equity Professional Institute of Santa Clara University. The publication discusses issues and considerations, including grant processes, transactions, and tax and payroll issues, for public companies that grant equity compensation in non-U.S. locations.
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

Press Releases

ASPPA Urges DOL To Modify EFAST2 System
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

BAN Announces Platform Agencies
Benefit Advisors Network

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