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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 4, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Alzheimer's Expenses are Qualified Medical Expenses
Excerpt: "A recent information letter by the IRS addressed whether the monthly fee that is paid to an Alzheimer's medical facility is considered a qualified medical expense and in turn tax deductible."

[Guidance Overview]
EBSA Cites Statistics Showing Effective 'Targeting' of ERISA Plans
Excerpt: "The EBSA cites its targeting protocols as contributing to the success of enforcement efforts against ERISA plans and fiduciaries during 2009. The news release does not provide information on the methods involved in the targeting process, but that information is generally described in the EBSA Enforcement Manual. . . . A checklist of potential review items is included in the Enforcement Manual materials. That checklist can be reviewed [online; link is on the target web page]."
(Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy Harmon III)

[Guidance Overview]
Obama Signs COBRA Extension; Senate Bill Would Extend Even Further
Excerpt: "The one-month extension gives the Senate more time to consider its proposal to provide the subsidy to workers involuntarily terminated through the end of the year."

[Guidance Overview]
Obama Signs Stopgap COBRA Subsidy Extension
Excerpt: "Without the extension, employees laid off after February 28 would have been ineligible for the subsidy. The measure also will allow employees to receive the subsidy if they first lost group coverage due to a reduction in hours and then were terminated after enactment of the legislation, if certain conditions are met."
(Workforce Management)

[Guidance Overview]
New Excise Tax Reporting far Cobra Violations And Noncompliance With Other Health Plan Mandates (PDF)
Excerpt: "[A] COBRA compliance failure often originates because the employer has not notified the COBRA administrator that a qualifying event has occurred. A common example is where an employer fails to realize that an employee on a medical leave of absence that extends beyond the FMLA period has ceased to satisfy the service requirement to maintain eligibility and should be offered COBRA."

Some Small Businesses See Burden In 'Cadillac' Tax
Excerpt: "Under the Senate health bill, a 40 percent levy would apply to premiums above $8,500 for an individual policy and $23,000 for a family policy, and would go into effect immediately. The health care proposal recently offered by President Obama would scale back the tax significantly by raising the premium threshold to $10,200 for an individual policy and $27,500 for a family policy. By comparison, the average cost of a family policy provided by employers is $13,375 . . . ."
(National Public Radio)

More Than Half of State Retiree Funding Shortfalls Are in Health and Welfare Plans
Excerpt: "In general, states continued to fund retiree health care and other non-pension benefits on a pay-as-you-go basis -- paying medical costs or premiums as they are incurred by current retirees. For states offering minimal benefits, this may cause little problem. But for those that have made significant promises, the future fiscal burden will be enormous. Only two states, Alaska and Arizona, had more than 50% of the assets needed to meet their liabilities for retiree health care or other non-pension benefits . . . ."
(Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

New Parity Rules Not Prompting Employers to Drop Mental Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Health care experts from Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company, believe that despite the extra administrative and cost burden on U.S. employers, few companies will eliminate their existing mental health and substance abuse benefits as a result of new federal mental health parity regulations."

Protecting Public Employees; Gap Grows Larger
Excerpt: "Heavy lobbying by Sheboygan County department heads makes clear that a transfer of an additional $8.9 million a year from taxpayers to the county via a half-percent sales tax will be used to assure continued full employment of county employees. The huge 'gap' which now exists in Sheboygan County between public and private employment compensation costs will only increase."

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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Section 162(m) Compliance Overview and Update (PDF)
23-page presentation materials are available, from a webcast presented by the firm.
(Morgan Lewis)

The Influence of Retiree Health Benefits on Retirement Patterns
Working paper. Excerpt: "We apply three wellknown panel data estimators and find that, for men in their 50s, [retiree health benefits] have little or no effect on retirement decisions; however, a substantial effect emerges for men in their early 60s."
(Social Science Research Network)

Webcasts and Conferences

"Top-Heavy: More Than an Unbalanced Organization Chart" Web Seminar
Nationwide on March 23, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

Press Releases

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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Internal Consultant
for Unified Trust Company, N.A.
in KY

IRA Administrative Assistant
for Polycomp Administrative Services, Inc.
in CA

Implementation Specialist
for Milliman
in TX

Retirement Plan Administrator-Part Time
for Chicago TPA Firm
in IL

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