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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 10, 2010

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HIPAA covered entities, including health plans, health care clearinghouses, and covered health care providers, must comply with the HIPAA Security Rule effective February 17, 2010. This regulation also requires compliance from business associates. If you are responsible for your HIPAA Security Policy and Procedural Manual, this course is essential.

[Guidance Overview]
HHS List of Covered Entities Reporting Breaches of Unsecured PHI Affecting More Than 500 Individuals
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: When the breach notification requirements initially went into effect, HHS had indicated that sanctions would not be imposed for failure to provide the required notification for breaches that were discovered before February 22, 2010 -- a date that has since passed. It is all the more important now that covered entities (including health plans) and their business associates ensure compliance with the detailed breach notification requirements, particularly in light of the strengthened enforcement provisions enacted under the HITECH Act."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Ninth Circuit Checklist of Abuse of Discretion Factors
Excerpt: "This recent Ninth Circuit opinion provides a nice checklist of issues that may turn a structural conflict of interest into a claimant's victory even in the face of the lenient abuse of discretion standard of review."
(Roy Harmon III via Health Plan Law)

State Health Care Reform Update, March 10, 2010
Excerpt: "For the last few years, states have been leading the way toward more comprehensive health care coverage to ensure that more people have or can obtain health insurance. Because of the potential impact of this ongoing activity on employer-provided health insurance benefits, Spencer's Benefits Reports provides regular updates about state health care reform."
(Wolters Kluwer)

'Temporary' COBRA Subsidy Program Is Lifesaver for Jobless Able to Afford It
Excerpt: "The program was meant to be temporary, but it appears that it could outlast the Obama administration's proposal to remake the nation's health care system for future decades. In other words, if the Obama plan collapses, COBRA subsidies are likely to remain among the flotsam and jetsam of 'incremental' solutions left behind for policy makers to poke through in the aftermath of yet another big overhaul plan gone under."
(CQ-Roll Call Group)

More Tobacco Cessation Services Now Available for State Employees and Teachers
Excerpt: "North Carolinians covered by the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees now have additional help quitting tobacco, thanks to a cooperative effort by the N.C. Division of Public Health, the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission, the State Health Plan and QuitlineNC, the state's free telephone tobacco-use cessation service."
(State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services)

Employers Continue to Invest in Health of Workers
Excerpt: "Hewitt's annual health care trends survey of nearly 600 large U.S. companies representing more than 10 million employees shows that employers' short- and long-term approaches to health care remain consistent with last year. Almost two-thirds (65%) say they currently invest in long-term solutions to improve the overall health and productivity of their workforce, while less than a third (32%) are primarily focused on controlling their annual health care costs."
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

[Opinion]
The Cost of Health Care and Coverage
Excerpt: "If more and more people are losing coverage, why do costs keep going up? The Times' answer is that by postponing treatment, uninsured people end up requiring more expensive care. Or alternately, if they are treated anyway, hospitals will slip the bill to other patients. But none of this adds up. There is widespread agreement that preventive treatment is just as expensive if not more so as emergency treatment. After all, isn't it all that preventive medicine to guard against lawsuits that is driving up costs?"
(The American Spectator)




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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
The Compensability of Commute Time and Home Computer Activity Continues to Confound
Excerpt: "If there was any doubt that off-the-clock issues are vexing and perplexing, especially for California employers, consider this: A distinguished three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has withdrawn the opinion it issued less than six months ago in the much-discussed Rutti v. Lojack Corporation case and has issued a replacement decision. This advisory updates our September 2009 advisory, 'Commuting in a Company Vehicle, Home E-Mail Activity: Compensable Employee Time?' in which we reported on the 9th Circuit's original Rutti decision."
(Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Section 162(m) Pitfalls (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "We have highlighted . . . several common compliance pitfalls that can be fatal to qualifying for the section 162(m) performance-based compensation exception. Public companies should review their performance-based compensation arrangements in light of these pitfalls to maximize their tax deduction for compensation paid to their top executives."
(Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

DOL Statistics on ERISA Benefit Plan Enforcement, Including COBRA Subsidy Statistics, for Fiscal Year 2009
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Viewed against prior-year statistics, the high number of [Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance] Program filings received for FY 2009 -- which has nearly doubled in a few years' time -- is notable. (For more information, see our Checkpoint Newsstand article.) One contributing factor may be the addition of an online penalty calculator and payment option, which has made the DFVC Program easier to use."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)


Webcasts and Conferences

Health Care Reform Update Seminar
in Illinois on March 18, 2010
presented by International Society of CEBS - Chicago Chapter

New Trend: DC Payments That Behave Like DB Payments
in Illinois on March 17, 2010
presented by WEB - Chicago Downtown

Retirement Plan Compliance Assistance Seminar
in Alaska on May 19, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)


Press Releases


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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Pension Administrator
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in NJ

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in KY

Senior Benefits Specialist
for DIRECTV
in CA

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in IN

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in CO




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