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April 1, 2010

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National Employee Benefits Day acknowledges employee benefits professionals for the quality benefits you provide and for the important role you have in your colleaguesí well being.
This year Benefits Day has a special focus on Workplace Wellness. We encourage you to evaluate your wellness offerings and to reach out to your employees with suggestions on living a healthier lifestyle.

Visit for free resources to help you celebrate!

[Guidance Overview]
Inclusion of Cost of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage on W-2 Form
Excerpt: "Starting in 2011, employers are required to disclose the aggregate cost of 'applicable employer-sponsored coverage' provided to employees annually on the employee's Form W-2. Regardless of whether the employee or employer pays for the coverage, the aggregate cost of the coverage reported is determined under rules similar to those to determine the applicable premiums for purposes of the COBRA continuation coverage requirements of group health plans."
(Wolters Kluwer)

Health Information Technology: Benefits and Problems (PDF)
24 pages. Excerpt: "Although many proponents discuss the perceived benefits of HIT, missing from the debate is an honest discussion of experiences with actual HIT systems, and the obstacles and pitfalls of poorly designed systems. The ultimate goal should be to improve quality, increase efficiency and add convenience -- not just to create wired facilities."
(National Center for Policy Analysis)

The Use of Health Savings Accounts for Health Care Costs in Retirement (PDF)
Pages 2-6 of 12 pages. Excerpt: "Health savings accounts (HSAs) are often touted as a vehicle for funding future retiree health care costs. However, statutory contribution limits mean that they are unlikely to play more than a minor part in savings for health care costs in retirement."
(Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Supreme Court May Weigh Health Insurance Coverage Mandate
Excerpt: "Two major constitutional challenges have been levied against the new law, one by the state of Virginia, which enacted a law exempting its citizens from the federal health insurance mandate, and another by Florida and 12 other states. Legal scholars are divided on the merits of the cases, and even Congress - through its research service and its budget scorekeeper - has said it's an open question whether the provision could pass constitutional muster."
(The Washington Times)

State Health Care Reform Update, April 1, 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. Even with the passage of federal health care reform, these state initiatives will impact employer-provided health insurance benefits, Spencer's Benefits Reports continues to provide regular updates about state health care reform."
(Wolters Kluwer)

Public Employers Step Up Wellness Efforts, According to Survey
Excerpt: "A new survey shows that half of public employer health plans have been able to avoid double-digit premium rate increases in 2010, and that the majority of employers are stepping up health care cost control and quality care efforts using wellness initiatives. Trends in Public Employee Plans , released by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and co-sponsored by the State and Local Government Benefits Association (SALGBA), says of the public employers surveyed, 72% offer wellness initiatives . . . ."

Health Care Reform: What Do Employers Need to Do, and When?
Excerpt: "It is too early to predict the ultimate impact of health care reform on employer-provided health care, but not too early for employers to begin taking the steps necessary to ensure compliance with the new rules and to begin thinking strategically about whether any plan design changes may be necessary or advisable to avoid penalties and taxes."
(Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

Long-Term Care Insurance Affected by Health Reform
Excerpt: "Called the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, the program calls for workers to pay a monthly premium, to be set annually by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and receive an average daily benefit of $50 to $75 in exchange if they require long-term care services."
(On Wall Street)

Health Care Reform Law: Health Care Fraud and Abuse and Program Integrity Provisions
Excerpt: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the Healthcare Reform Law), contains more than 32 sections related to healthcare fraud and abuse and program integrity and makes significant amendments to existing criminal, civil, and administrative anti-fraud statutes."
(Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Sources on the Reconciliation Act Amending the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Excerpt: "A copy of the Reconciliation Act can be found at: . [A] table summarizes many (but not all) of the changes the PPACA and the Reconciliation Act introduced. The table generally focuses on the changes for medium and large employers. [To view the Summary of Changes Affecting Large Employers Under the PPACA go to"
(Michael Best & Friedrich LLP)

The Truth About Consumer-Directed Health Plans
Excerpt: "A recent survey reveals that cost trends for high-deductible health plans eventually rise at the same rate as those for other types of health plans. Lack of employee engagement, inadequate quality measurements and skyrocketing healthcare-delivery costs are factors."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Audio and Text: Firms Say Passage in Health Act Will Cost Them Millions
Excerpt: "Under the newly passed health care law, companies still get the subsidy for offering drug coverage, but they no longer get a tax deduction as well. The administration says this will add $4.5 billion to government coffers. But it will come at the expense of companies like Caterpillar, John Deere and AT&T, which says it will lose as much as $1 billion down the road."
(Morning Edition via National Public Radio)

Health Care 'Reform' Provides No Relief for Employers (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Introduction: Those who thought that health care reform should focus on fixing this country's runaway health care cost crisis will find little 'reform' in the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) just signed by President Obama. Instead, PPACA creates a vast new entitlement, significantly raises taxes on higher income individuals, and imposes much of the burden of providing the newly mandated coverage on employers. Existing health plans generally are 'grandfathered,' but grandfathered plans are exempt from only some of the new requirements."
(Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP)

This timely Webcast will address the key elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the related provisions of the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. Three industry experts will present their views on key elements of health care reform legislation, timeline of required compliance dates, impact on stakeholders and plan design implications.

Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Recent FICA Case: Possible Refund Opportunity and Deadline
Excerpt: "A recent federal court case may result in a change in payroll tax laws. But to take advantage of the change (if it occurs), employers need to act before April 15, 2010. The new case was issued by the U.S. District Court (Western District of Michigan, Southern Division) in the Quality Stores, Inc. case. The case deals with FICA taxes as applied to so-called 'supplemental unemployment compensation benefits' or 'SUBs' payable under a plan. In general, they are paid to an employee due to the employee's involuntary separation from employment as a result of a reduction in workforce, the discontinuance of a plant or operation, or other similar conditions encountered by the employer."
(Holland & Hart LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Employer Payroll Changes for HIRE Act Relief (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The HIRE Act also provides for an increased general business credit of $1,000 for each qualified individual for the first year the following provisions are satisfied: (1) was employed by the employer on any date during the taxable year, (2) employed by the taxpayer for a period of not less than 52 consecutive weeks, and (3) whose wages for such employment during the last 26 weeks of such period equaled at least 80% of such wages for the first 26 weeks of such period. This credit is not eligible for carryback before 2010. Again, the payroll processor will need to track qualified individuals and their wages."
(Groom Law Group)

Notes on the Report 'Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility'
Excerpt: "In 1968, a quarter of all American children lived in households in which all parents were working full time. Four decades later, the report notes, that portion had doubled to nearly one-half of all children."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility (PDF)
35 pages. Excerpt: "This report presents an economic perspective on flexible workplace policies and practices. The first section reports some of the changes in the U.S. workforce that have increased the need for flexibility in the workplace. . . . The second section examines the current state of flexible work arrangements and reports that many employers have adapted to the changing realities of American workers. . . . The report concludes with a discussion of the economic benefits of workplace flexibility arrangements."
(Executive Office of the President, Council of Economic Advisers)

Employers Looking for Ways to Help Relocated Employees with Complicated Arrangements for Elder Care
Excerpt: "Consider, first, that the overall workforce is aging: There were 27 million working adults ages 55 and over in January 2010, compared to 18 million in January 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given that increase, the number of people taking care of an elder parent or in-law in the United States is 34 million, according to the most updated statistics from AARP, an advocacy group for older Americans."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Tax Expenditures and Employee Benefits: Estimates from the FY 2011 Budget (PDF)
Pages 7-8 of 12 pages. Excerpt: "For the next fiscal year (2011), all employee benefits-related tax expenditures ($380.83 billion) will account for 36.0 percent of the $1.06 trillion tax expenditures in the budget. Tax-favored employment-based health insurance benefits will account for the largest tax expenditure presented in the budget ($176.96 billion, or 16.7 percent of the total amount and 46.5 percent of all employee benefits-related tax expenditures), followed by employment-based retirement plans ($111.69 billion, or 10.6 percent of the total amount and 29.3 percent of all employee benefit related tax expenditures) . . . ."
(Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Employee Ownership Update for March 31, 2010
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses the following: The NCEO has released new estimates on the number of ESOPs and ESOP participants. H.R. 4213 ties equity compensation to pension funding. A new study shows S corporation ESOP companies performed far better than the rest of the economy in 2008. A new blog provides information on Senator Sanders' bills to promote ESOPs. A 2009 article highlighted the growth of an employee ownership-friendly conservatism in Britain.
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

Webcasts and Conferences

2010 Fall Forum
in Illinois on September 13, 2010
presented by Ascensus

2010 Fall Forum
in Maryland on October 25, 2010
presented by Ascensus

2010 Fall Forum
in Nevada on November 8, 2010
presented by Ascensus

Health Care Reform - What Does It Mean for Plan Sponsors? Webinar
Nationwide on April 14, 2010
presented by Trucker Huss

Press Releases

Public Employers Strive for Healthy Workforce and Healthy Bottom Line
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

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