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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 17, 2010

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Professionals across the U.S. are now charged with sorting through health care reform and complying with new health plan requirements. These must-have books provide comprehensive guidance and in-depth analysis of the new legislation. Choose from CCHís Law, Explanation and Analysis (Volumes 1 & 2), RIAís Complete Analysis of the Tax & Benefits Provisions and RIAís Analysis of the Medicare, Medicaid & Other Health Care Provisions.

[Official Guidance]
Text of IRS Notice 2010-44: Tax Credit to Small Employers Making Contributions to Employees' Health Insurance (PDF)
20 pages. Except from IRS press release: "The [IRS on Monday, May 17] issued new guidance to make it easier for small businesses to determine whether they are eligible for the new health care tax credit under the Affordable Care Act and how large a credit they will receive. The guidance makes clear that small businesses receiving state health care tax credits may still qualify for the full federal tax credit. Additionally, the guidance allows small businesses to receive the credit not only for regular health insurance but also for add-on dental and vision coverage. Notice 2010-44 provides detailed guidelines, illustrated by more than a dozen examples, to help small employers determine whether they qualify for the credit and estimate the amount of the credit."
(Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview]
Adult Child Coverage and Related Tax Treatment under Health Care Reform (PDF)
Excerpt: "A child who is not required to be covered by an insured plan under the Reform Legislation (whether because the child has attained age 26 or because the child is eligible for another employer-sponsored health plan), must be covered by an insured plan under Ohio law if the child is (i) unmarried; (ii) under age 28; (iii) the natural child, stepchild or adopted child of the employee; (iv) a resident of Ohio or a full-time student at an accredited public or private institution of higher education; (v) not employed by an employer that offers any health benefit plan under which the child is eligible for coverage; and (vi) not eligible for coverage under Medicaid or Medicare."
(Thompson Hine LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Implementing the 'Adult Child' Dependent Coverage Mandate (PDF)
Excerpt: "Drinker Biddle Note: The mandate to provide adult child coverage applies only to 'group health plans' (as defined for HIPAA portability purposes), while the new, more favorable tax treatment applies more broadly . . . ."
(Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Employee Could Not Sue Employer for Denied COBRA Premium Subsidy Before Expedited Review by DOL
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: The court's conclusion seems right to us on policy grounds, especially given how short the DOL's turnaround time has been in practice. The court's determination is also consistent with the more recent Temporary Extension Act (TEA) clarification that if the DOL determines that an individual is eligible for the premium subsidy and the employer fails to provide the subsidy, then the individual can bring a civil action to enforce the agency determination and for 'appropriate equitable relief.'"
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform's Early Retirement Reinsurance (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Employers interested in receiving payments from the program should evaluate their current plan's care management techniques for chronic and high-cost conditions. These may need to be changed in order to be eligible for the reinsurance program."
(Aon Consulting)

Delay Sought for Mental Parity Rules
Excerpt: "Groups representing employers are asking the Employee Benefits Security Administration to delay the application of mental health parity regulations for at least a year, saying they were caught off guard by certain provisions and have been distracted by the passage of health care reform."
(Business Insurance)

Employer-Provided Health Insurance to Remain Dominant Under Health Law
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal: 'The share of Americans who get health coverage through their jobs has been declining gradually for years, dropping to 63.3% of working-age adults in 2008.' But in 'the next decade, the overall number of Americans with workplace health benefits isn't likely to change much, government analysts suggest.'"
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Requiring Individuals to Obtain Health Insurance: A Constitutional Analysis (PDF)
Excerpt: "This report first analyzes the authority of Congress to pass a law of this nature, as well as how a court could analyze this provision in light of a constitutional challenge based on various provisions of the Fifth and Tenth Amendments. Finally, this report discusses whether the exceptions to the individual responsibility requirement to purchase health insurance satisfy First Amendment freedom of religion protections."
(Congressional Research Service via National Conference of State Legislatures)

Health Reform Law Includes Voluntary Long-Term Care Insurance Program (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The CLASS program is voluntary and there is no requirement for employers to implement payroll deductions for this program. HHS is to issue regulations establishing rules for automatic enrollment in the program if an employer elects to do so. BUCK COMMENT. It appears that the CLASS program with its emphasis on community living benefits could be offered alongside an existing group long-term care program, especially one that emphasizes nursing home coverage."
(Buck Consultants)

Health Insurance Companies Try to Shape Rules on Premiums and Profits
Excerpt: "Insurance lobbyists are trying to shape regulations that will define 'unreasonable' premium increases and require them to pay rebates to consumers if the companies do not spend enough on patient care."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

Massachusetts Health Care Reform Fails Small Businesses
Excerpt: "The lack of focus on small businesses is evident. The [The Commonwealth Connector, an independent authority meant to act as an insurance plan clearinghouse,] took three years to make information about provider networks and participating primary care providers for small businesses available on its website. It took over two years to launch a small employer pilot program; in more than a year it attracted just 65 businesses and has now been replaced by a new program that offers only seven plans."
(The Boston Globe)

An employer writes:

"I have to tell you that of all the job boards Iíve ever used, this one has the best quality of candidates. I donít get flooded with tons of resumes, and even the candidates who arenít fit for the jobs we have donít miss the mark by much."

Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

IRS Names Levine, Pozek to Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities
New members representing Employee Plans on the Advisory Committee are David N. Levine, a principal at Groom Law Group, Chartered, in Washington, D.C., and Adam C. Pozek, of Reading, Massachusetts. Pozek is Vice President, Consulting Services, for Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group.
(Internal Revenue Service)

Fewer Companies Are Making Relocation Policy Modifications This Year, According to Survey
Excerpt: "Companies . . . tightened up their policies on who gets relocated, such as by offering benefits to some employees and not others. In offering home-sale benefits, for example, the number of companies with tiered programs -- in which companies make offerings to one set of employees and not another -- jumped from 25 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2010."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Employee Ownership Update for May 14, 2010
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen reports on the following: The IRS is going to require ESOP companies to submit written distribution policies. The 'Employee Stock Ownership Plan Promotion and Improvement Act of 2010' has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. PBS NewsHour did a followup story on ESOP-owned SRC Holdings, showing how open-book management allowed it to grow and then survive the recession without a layoff despite a significant reliance on the automotive industry.
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

Webcasts and Conferences

Health Insurance Basics For Employers
Nationwide on June 16, 2010
presented by Lorman Education Services

Return on Investment for Wellness Programs
Nationwide on June 28, 2010
presented by Lorman Education Services

Press Releases

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