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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

April 23, 2010

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[Official Guidance]
FAQs: Health Care Reform and COBRA
Excerpt: "Q1: Did the health care reform legislation extend the COBRA premium extension? No. The new health care reform legislation, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, did not extend the eligibility time period for the COBRA premium reduction. Eligibility for the subsidy ends May 31, 2010; however, those individuals who become eligible on or before May 31, 2010 can still receive the full 15 months as long as they remain otherwise eligible."
(U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Guidance Overview]
Federal Tax Rate Changes, and Potential Changes, for Individuals, Arising from Recent and Expiring Legislation
Excerpt: "This article provides an overview of the Federal tax rate changes, and potential changes, for individuals, arising from (i) the automatic expiration at the end of 2010 of certain tax laws, (ii) the recent enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (and the related Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively the 'Health Care Act'), and (iii) certain legislative proposals."
(Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.)

[Guidance Overview]
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Small Business
Excerpt: "Beginning in 2011, certain employers will be eligible to receive federal grants to provide their employees with access to comprehensive workplace wellness programs. A wellness program must include the following components to be eligible for funding . . . ."
(Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.)

[Guidance Overview]
Eligibility for COBRA Premium Assistance Subsidy Extended through May 31, 2010
Excerpt: "Be alert for individuals who may not understand the law or who may be caught in the transition periods between the laws."
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform Legislation Makes Significant Changes to Fraud and Abuse Laws
Excerpt: "In keeping with the federal government's increased focus on health care fraud and abuse, the Act makes substantial changes to the Stark law. These changes have the potential to significantly affect providers' business and compliance strategies. Close attention should be paid to the issuance of HHS's regulations, as they will provide further guidance on implementation of the statutory provisions . . . ."
(Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
FLSA Amended to Require Breaks and Space to Express Breast Milk for Nursing Mothers
Excerpt: "The amendment to the [Fair Labor Standards Act] will require some employers subject to the FLSA to provide rest breaks to mothers who wish to express breast milk. In addition, it will require employers to provide an appropriate space, other than a bathroom, for mothers to express milk."
(Littler Mendelson P.C.)

[Guidance Overview]
How the Recent Health Care Reform Legislation Affects Employers (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "Several PPACA provisions will affect employers both immediately and in the future. While PPACA's provisions relating to group health plans are of vital importance to employers, this alert focuses solely on the employment provisions concerning whistleblower protections and breastfeeding."
(Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Health Reform Law Increases Adoption Assistance Exclusion and Credit
Excerpt: "[T]he Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act . . . increased the tax credit under Code Section 23 to $13,170 for all adoptions, including adoptions of children with special needs. It also increased the exclusion for employer-provided adoption assistance under Section 137 to $13,170 for all adoptions, including adoptions of children with special needs."
(Thompson Publishing Group Inc.)

DOL Answers Questions on Health Reform and COBRA
Excerpt: "The Department of Labor's Web page on health care reform now contains a page of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about health care reform and COBRA. Three of the four questions ask about specific COBRA issues: was the COBRA premium subsidy extended by health care reform, was the 18 month COBRA maximum coverage period extended by health care reform, and was COBRA eliminated or changed by health care reform - to which the answer for all of these is 'no.'"

The 'Employer Responsibilities' Requirement of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Excerpt: "Under the Act's employer responsibility provisions, [which take effect in 2014] 'applicable large employers' must pay a non-deductible excise tax penalty if any of their full-time employees are certified as having purchased health insurance through a state exchange with respect to which a tax credit or cost-sharing reduction is allowed or paid to the employee. Colloquially referred to as a 'free rider surcharge' (since it is imposed only when the government subsidizes coverage for employees of an employer), this provision is more complex and nuanced than it might at first appear."
(Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)

Payments of Penalties for Being Uninsured Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Among those who are subject to the penalty, many will voluntarily report on their tax returns that they are uninsured and pay the amount owed. However, other individuals will try to avoid making payments. Therefore, the estimates presented here account for likely compliance rates, as well as the ability of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to administer and collect the penalty."
(U.S. Congressional Budget Office)

Health Care Reform Law Could Lead to Higher Prices and Employers Dropping Coverage, According to Report
Excerpt: "President Barack Obama's new healthcare reform law would cost $828 billion over the next decade while saving $577 billion. . . . The report also suggests that some employers will stop offering their employees healthcare coverage benefits . . . ."
(Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.)

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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
2010 Spring Compliance Newsletter (PDF)
8 pages. Key Topics: DOL Issues new Model CHIPRA Notice With Delayed Compliance Date; IRS Issues Surprising HEART Act Guidance; New Law Expands FMLA Rules for Family Member Military Leave; Anti-Cutback Violation to Link Retiree Medical With Annuity Option; IRS Issues New Form for Self Reporting Health Plan Excise Taxes; IRS Finalizes 204(h) Notice Regulations; Labor Department Re-Issues Investment Advice Regulations.
(Lockton, Inc.)

[Guidance Overview]
Executive Compensation 2009: The Year in Review and Outlook for 2010 (PDF)
14 pages. Excerpt: "This letter . . . notes items intended to create discussion around what companies and directors should be thinking about in 2010 relating to executive compensation design and governance."
(Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Baby Boomers Express Worry about Caregiving Affecting Work
Excerpt: "The demands of balancing a full-time job and caring for a family member are a major source of stress for many Baby Boomers and are impacting their productivity and their health, according to new research by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and ComPsych Corporation."

Webcasts and Conferences

ASPPA Webcast: Business Structures Today: Can't Tell The Players Without A Scorecard!
Nationwide on June 15, 2010
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

ASPPA Webcast: Did You Notice: DC Plan Communications
Nationwide on May 27, 2010
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

ASPPA Webcast: ESOPs - An Overview of Uses, Strategies and Basic Plan Administration Concerns
Nationwide on May 5, 2010
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

ASPPA Webcast: Investments 101 for Retirement Plan Consultants and Administrators
Nationwide on June 23, 2010
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

ASPPA Webcast: What Does a DC Administrator Need to Know About a DB/DC Plan?
Nationwide on June 3, 2010
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

Employee Benefits Security Administration Agency Head to Host Live Web Chat
Nationwide on April 26, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Free ASPPA Webcast: The ASPPA Recordkeeping Certification Program
Nationwide on May 18, 2010
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

Navigating Health Care Reform: Challenges for Employers and Plan Administrator
in New York on June 21, 2010
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Navigating Health Care Reform: Challenges for Insurers and Providers
in New York on June 23, 2010
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Press Releases

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