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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 19, 2010

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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!
Sponsored by World Congress

[Guidance Overview]
Many HIPAA Changes under the HITECH Act Now Effective
Excerpt: "To provide adequate time for Covered Entities and Business Associates to implement and begin good faith compliance with the breach notification final interim regulations, HHS temporarily suspended imposing sanctions for six months. Consequently, the enforcement provisions now become effective for breaches of unsecured PHI discovered on or after Feb. 22, 2010."
(McGuireWoods LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Model Employer CHIP Notice is Published by DOL (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "An employer must provide the Employer CHIP notice if it maintains a group health plan (i.e., if the employer provides medical care benefits directly or through insurance, reimbursement, or otherwise) in a state that provides premium assistance under Medicaid or under a state children's health insurance program for the purchase of group health plan coverage. Thus, whether an employer is subject to the notice requirement depends on where the group health plan participants or beneficiaries reside - not the location or principal place of business of the employer, plan, plan administrator, insurer or affiliated service provider."
(Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]
Employers May Need to Monitor Compliance of Business Associates with HITECH Act
Excerpt: "An employer with a health plan that uses the services of one or more business associates should confirm that each business associate providing services to the health plan is aware of its enhanced HIPAA obligations . . . . Such confirmation may already have been obtained by the plan's insurer or third party administrator, but if it has not, communication with the business associate is advised. An employer might also consider seeking an acknowledgement that the business associate is in full compliance with its enhanced obligations under HIPAA."
(Cooley Godward Kronish LLP)

Private Health Insurance Around the World May Be Making Health Care Problems Worse, According to Economist Article
Excerpt: "The Economist [says]: 'Governments want to spur private insurance in the hope of solving three big problems bedevilling their national systems of health care: inadequate access to care; soaring costs; and a paucity of innovation.' The goal is to 'improve their citizens' health without draining more public finances. 'The evidence so far suggests that relying on private insurance may help in some respects. But it will not solve all these problems, and may even be making some of them worse' . . . ."
(Kaiser Family Foundation)

Who Benefits from the Proposed Amendment to the Senate Excise Tax on Employer Health Premiums? (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "The vast majority of employees affected by the excise tax are not covered by a union contract. This is true for both the Senate bill and the proposed amendment. Because many more workers are in non-union plans, fully 80 percent of the workers whose plans would be subject to the excise tax in 2019 under the Senate bill are not covered by collective bargaining agreements. Under the proposed amendment, the amount is slightly higher at 83 percent."
(Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California-Berkeley)

Electronic Personal Health Information Exchange: Health Care Entities' Reported Disclosure Practices and Effects on Quality of Care (PDF)
51 pages. Excerpt: "Pursuant to a requirement in the HITECH Act, GAO is reporting on practices implemented by health information exchange organizations, providers, and other health care entities that disclose electronic personal health information."
(U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Missing HSA Money Raises Oversight Questions
Excerpt: "Thousands of people are learning that money they squirreled away in health savings accounts is gone. Many thought the money was sitting safely in banks. But now it appears it was stolen. Federal investigators have released few details, but all the cases have one thing in common: a Chicago company called Canopy Financial. Now critics are questioning whether more government oversight is needed for the accounts."
(Morning Edition via National Public Radio)

Excise Tax on High-Cost Health Plans Would Have Nonunion Impact, Study Shows
Excerpt: "The controversial tax has been widely viewed as a labor issue, but at least 80 percent of the workers whose plans would be subject to the tax in 2019 would be in nonunion jobs, according to the analysis by Ken Jacobs of the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center and William H. Dow, professor of health economics at Berkeley and a member of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers."
(The Washington Post; free registration required)

Demystifying High-Deductible Plans for Employees
Excerpt: "Intel's strategy was to convince employees to consider plan facets other than just the core high deductible element, including lower premiums, preventive care coverage and the accrual of a health account. After three years of year-round education and communication, enrollment in a high-deductible plan linked to a health savings or health reimbursement account rose from 14 percent to 49 percent."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Book Excerpt: Contingent Workers & Employee Benefits (PDF)
57 pages. Excerpt: "This chapter discusses how the courts have dealt with the Code and ERISA in ascertaining: whether and under what circumstances contingent workers have been found eligible to participate in a service recipient's benefit plans; and whether a service recipient is in fact the actual employer in cases where the contingent worker was employed by a [Professional Employer Organization]."
(Daniel N. Janich, Esq. of Greensfelder law firm; from BNA's book, 'ERISA Litigation,' copyright 2008)

Survey Finds That Employer-Provided Benefits Vary with Earnings (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2009, shows that workers in low-paid jobs have lower access to employer-provided benefits, when compared with access availability for workers in high-paid jobs. This issue of Program Perspectives -- the first featuring 2009 data -- examines this difference between low-wage and high-wage earners for several individual benefits."
(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Michigan Warns Jobless About End of Federal Unemployment Extension
Excerpt: "The state's unemployment insurance agency sent letters to an estimated half-million Michiganians receiving jobless pay, warning that federally funded benefit extensions may not be renewed. 'The federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation is set to expire on Feb. 28, 2010,' said Stephen Geskey, director of Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency. 'If Congress does not pass legislation to extend the deadline for this and other federally funded benefits, then thousands of unemployed Michigan workers will begin to exhaust their benefits starting in March.'"
(The Detroit News)

Webcasts and Conferences

2010 IBJ Healthiest Employers Awards Conference
in Indiana on August 24, 2010
presented by Indianapolis Business Journal

HIPAA and Other Health Benefits Laws: Compliance Assistance Seminar
in New Hampshire on August 10, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Spring Seminar - Surviving and Thriving in Tough Times
in California on March 23, 2010
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference - Los Angeles Chapter

Workshop on the HIPAA Privacy Rule's De-Identification Standard
in District of Columbia on March 8, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Press Releases

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