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March 29, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform's Impact on Employers
Excerpt: "PPACA adopts standards that are substantially similar to those in existence under HIPAA. Importantly, however, PPACA increases the maximum incentive available to 30 percent of the cost of COBRA coverage for those participating in the program and authorizes the Secretaries of Labor, Treasury, and HHS to increase the incentive to 50 percent by regulations. Comment: The increased incentive provides employers an opportunity to implement more aggressive wellness programs through larger incentives and premium discounts."
(Blank Rome)

[Guidance Overview]
13 Reasons to Embrace Health Reform (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "[S]ome of the key improvements that these reforms will make. Health reform will: 1. Prohibit denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and guarantee that every American has access to high-quality health coverage, regardless of age, gender, or health status. 2. Create a new, regulated marketplace to promote competition among insurers and to give consumers the opportunity to purchase the best plan at the best price. 3. Ensure that all Americans have access to stable, high-quality health coverage, no matter where they work."
(Families USA)

[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform Law's 2010 Changes
Excerpt: "There are a large number of significant changes that will be implemented as early as six months after enactment (thus, in September 2010) as well as others that will phase in over the next eight years. In this For Your Benefit issue, we will begin to identify some of those new provisions as they will impact employers and their employees."
(Kushner & Company)

[Guidance Overview]
Principal Health Care Reform Provisions (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "A brief outline of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act [is contained in the target document]. Changes made through the Reconciliation Act are included in italics."
(Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Health Reforms Will Begin to Take Effect This Year
Excerpt: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 makes the following reforms effective this year, according to Nancy-Ann DeParle, director, White House Office of Health Reform . . . ."
(Wolters Kluwer)

[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform Signed Into Law, Brings Major Changes for Employer-Provided Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Historic health care reform legislation was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) brings far-reaching changes for employer-provided health coverage. (As we write this article, Congress is considering a reconciliation bill that would make some significant changes to the PPACA.) Here are some highlights of the changes affecting employers and their plans . . . ."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Long-Term Care Benefit Also Made Available in Health Reform
Excerpt: "The health reform legislation contains a provision that will make long-term care insurance available to all Americans, who will be automatically enrolled with the choice to opt out. Under the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, individuals will begin paying a premium immediately and, after five years, those with functional limitations have the option of receiving a cash benefit of around $50 a day that can be used for medical equipment and home renovations."

[Guidance Overview]
DOL's New FAQs on the Latest COBRA Premium Subsidy Extension
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: These detailed FAQs are packed with helpful guidance for those administering the COBRA subsidy. In particular, we are happy that Q8 has provided clarification about when the subsidy starts for individuals who elected COBRA after a reduction of hours and have been paying the full COBRA premium -- this is the answer we expected."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Hawaii State Retirees Lose Health Coverage Legal Battle
Excerpt: "The state of Hawaii is constitutionally mandated to provide health benefits to state and county employees, retirees and their dependents, but does not have to provide retirees with a health plan like the one for active state workers, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled."

[Guidance Overview]
HHS's Delay in Enforcement of HITECH Rules as Applied to Business Associates
Excerpt: "In a recent post to its website, HHS's Office of Civil Rights has let it be known that a proposed rule implementing the HITECH Act's privacy and security provisions as they apply to business associate liability is in the works."
(Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)

[Guidance Overview]
Increased Retiree Contributions Must Apply to All Teamsters, Not Just Local 705
Excerpt: "An increase in retiree health plan contributions must apply to all members of a collective bargaining agreement, not just those in one unit, said the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Green and Cooper vs. United Parcel Service (Nos. 09-2445 & 09-2553). The decision involved a plan interpretation issue."
(Wolters Kluwer)

Senate Fails to Extend COBRA Subsidy Before Two-Week Recess
Excerpt: "Action stalled on H.R. 4851, which also would temporarily extend certain other expiring federal programs, after Republicans and Democrats clashed on how the extensions would be funded. Without the extension, employees who are involuntarily terminated after March 31 will not be eligible for the 65%, 15-month premium subsidy. The House approved bill, introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin, D-Mich., would extend the subsidy eligibility through April 30."
(Business Insurance)

Dental Programs Make the 'Mouth-Body Health Connection'
Excerpt: "By enrolling more than 600,000 pregnant women, heart disease patients and others in a special intervention program, Aetna, for example, hopes to show that medical costs can be undercut by attacking gum disease earlier and more aggressively."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

Research Project on Large Employers Use of Workplace Health Clinics
Excerpt: "The objective of this project is to better understand the full spectrum of employer strategies concerning workplace clinics, the barriers faced by employers, and the impact of different strategies and models on cost containment and care delivery."
(Changes in Health Care Financing & Organization Initiative)

Health Information Managers' Workload to Increase Under Reform
Excerpt: "Health information managers are evaluating how multiple provisions in health reform legislation will affect their business practices, HealthLeaders Media reports."
(California HealthCare Foundation)

Benefit Managers Eye Impact of Health Care Reforms
Excerpt: "Among provisions generating the greatest concern are extending coverage to employees' adult children until age 26 and to part-time employees who work at least 30 hours per week; eliminating annual or lifetime benefit limits and providing 100% coverage for certain wellness and preventive health care services; a cap on contributions to flexible spending accounts and a ban on the use of those funds to pay for over-the-counter drugs; reducing the value of federal subsidies paid to employers that provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare-eligible retirees . . . ."
(Business Insurance)

EBSA Issues Final Exemption for Ford VEBA
Excerpt: "The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration has granted an exemption allowing the Ford Motor Co. to transfer company securities to a voluntary employee beneficiary association trust that funds a new health plan for the company's retirees."

Companies Begin to Report Health Care Bill Costs
Excerpt: "Forget about the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates - there are apparently some other costs attendant with the new healthcare legislation. According to the Wall Street Journal, AT&T Inc. said it would take a $1 billion charge against earnings tied to the federal health-care overhaul, joining a number of other companies in reporting similar impacts."

Podcast: Health Care Communication
Excerpt: "Jennifer Benz, an expert in benefits communication, explains why employers should send a message to their employees about health care reform -- even though they don't know all the details yet themselves."

Health Care Reform Information Resources
Excerpt: "No matter how closely you've been following - or trying to follow - the details of healthcare reform, odds are you may have missed out on something. Here's a list of resources that will help you understand the what, when, and how much the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) will impact you."

Scorecard for New Health Reform Legislation
Excerpt: "How close do you think that the health care reform plan would come, in reality, to achieving each goal?"
(RAND Corporation)

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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Employer Tax Credits Under HIRE Act
Excerpt: "The HIRE Act provides the following tax incentives: Exemption from the employer's share of FICA/OASDI taxes (a 6.2 % payroll tax savings) for employers who hire unemployed workers after February 3, 2010, and before January 1, 2011; and A $1,000 general business tax credit for each employee who remains employed with the employer for at least one year."
(Sherman & Howard L.L.C.)

U.S. Labor Seeks Bankrup.tcy Reform and Executive Pay Curbs
Excerpt: "Labor unions are pushing for greater worker protection and added scrutiny of executive pay at companies in bankrup.tcy, but restructuring professionals fear the changes might force more companies to liquidate rather than reorganize. Congress is considering a bill backed by unions that proposes to raise the limit on wage claims in bankrup.tcy, make it harder to change collective bargaining agreements, and limit the ability of companies to shed retiree benefits. The bill also proposes what one critic called nearly 'impossible to satisfy' restrictions on bonus and incentive payments for executives of bankrupt companies."

Webcasts and Conferences

2010 SPARK National Conference
in District of Columbia on June 13, 2010
presented by SPARK -- Society of Professional Asset-Managers and Record Keepers

Health Care Reform: Analysis of Health Plan Changes for Employee Benefits, Employment & Business Lawyers
Nationwide on April 16, 2010
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Investment of ERISA Plan Assets: Recent Developments that Affect Employers' Fiduciary Duty
in Maryland on April 22, 2010
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Washington Chapter

Investment of ERISA Plan Assets: Recent Developments that Affect Employers' Fiduciary Duty
in District of Columbia on April 22, 2010
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Washington Chapter

Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program and Employer Sponsored Coverage Coordination Working Group Meeting
in District of Columbia on April 26, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Now What? An Employer's Guide to Health Care Reform
in District of Columbia on April 8, 2010
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Washington Chapter

Pension Focus 2010
in Missouri on May 13, 2010
presented by Pension Consultants, Inc.

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program Workshop
in Oregon on May 18, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Press Releases

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