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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

June 7, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
CMS Issues Alert on MSP Mandatory Reporting Requirements for HRA Coverage
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Although the alert states that it 'provides updated information' about HRA reporting and reflects certain 'refinements,' we note that it does not make any substantive changes to the requirements since the issuance of the January 2010 CMS User Guide."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Court Upholds DOL's Expedited Review of Eligibility for COBRA Premium Subsidy
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: We note that in ruling against the employer on its claims of lack of statutory authority and denial of due process, this court pointed out that ARRA states that the expedited review procedure applies to 'any case in which an individual requests treatment as an assistance eligible individual and is denied such treatment by the group health plan.'"
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Health Reform Triage for Employers
Excerpt: "The [target article] is a framework for triaging [health care reform] in terms of what employers need to do in 2010 and 2011 vs. what they should put off (except for planning) until later in the decade."

No Extension of Federal Subsidy of COBRA Premiums
Excerpt: "If you lose your job after June 1, you'll see more than just your paycheck disappear. You also won't get the 65% federal subsidy to cover your COBRA health insurance premium."

The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program: $5 Billion Will Last About Two Years, According to EBRI Study (PDF)
Pages 2-7 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "This article finds that if the subsidy were drawn down for all early retirees and their dependents, $2.5 billion of the $5 billion available would be exhausted in the first year of the program."
(Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Panel Contends Health Care Should Be Viewed as Asset, Not Liability
Excerpt: "While health care is well-recognized as one of Michigan's leading job providers and a bright spot of growth amid the state's economic downturn, what doesn't get as much attention is the potential for health care investment to be a remedy for economic turnaround."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

National Health Data Initiative Unveiled
Excerpt: "As part of these efforts to promote community health data, HHS officials stated that a new health indicators 'warehouse' would be deployed online at the end of this year, providing data on national, state, regional and county health performance on rates of smoking, diabetes, obesity and other health indicators."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

Overextended Workers Find Relief in Workplace Flexibility, According to Survey
Excerpt: "The tendency to juggle many things in life: personal happiness and well being, family needs and our jobs, is a constant struggle for many workers [with almost two-thirds of survey respondents (63 percent) saying] that all were equally important in terms of priority."
(Workplace Options)

Separating Consumer Medical Debt from Other Debt
Excerpt: "[The Medical Debt Relief Act], introduced in the Senate, would prohibit credit bureaus from using paid off or settled medical debt collections in assessing a consumer's credit worthiness."
(The Dallas Morning News)

AHRQ Unveils Software Tool to Analyze Health Quality Data
Excerpt: "The software -- called My Own Network Powered by AHRQ, or MONAHRQ -- allows organizations to establish a customized website that can gather patient data for use in quality improvement and reporting initiatives."
(California HealthCare Foundation)

Will Your Executive Premium Plan Survive PPACA's Nondiscrimination Rules?
Excerpt: "For plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010, . . . the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amends the Public Health Service Act to prohibit all group health plans from discriminating in favor of these persons."
(Tax Management Inc.)

Employers Can Help Wean Former Workers from COBRA
Excerpt: "'Employers are benefited by going the extra mile to make sure their former employees understand their choices in times like this. If the economy picks up again, for example, you may want to hire some of those workers back. And your HR department can be spared a lot of headaches by putting guidance like this together beforehand and communicating it to COBRA enrollees when the time comes,' she adds."
(Employee Benefit News; free registration required)

ERIC Letter Urges Fair Process in Administering Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "[ERIC's] comments are primarily focused on making the ERRP application and reimbursement methodology more fair and even-handed and instilling more flexibility in the new regulatory maintenance of effort provision."
(The ERISA Industry Committee)

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

Employees' Caregiver and Family Responsibilities: A Continuing Challenge for Employers
Excerpt: "In addition to addressing employee relations issues and costs (i.e. turnover costs, loss of productivity) that come with family responsibilities, there are also legal land mines that employers must navigate as family responsibilities can raise issues under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and a whole host of other federal, state, and local employment laws."
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Congress Considering Updates to the Protecting America's Workers Act
Excerpt: "Questions remain as to whether the changes -- including increased penalties and enhanced family-member rights -- are long overdue, or misguided and unnecessary."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

A Primer to Help HR Leaders Judge the Value of Various Benefits Programs
Excerpt: "The New York Times recently called into question some of the applications of the venerable Dartmouth Atlas of Health to healthcare savings. . . . yet another reminder that data is often misused and misunderstood."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Overseas Assignments: New Ranking of World Cities Can Help Companies Determine How Much an Expat Assignment Should Pay
Excerpt: "An annual look by Mercer at the quality of life in more than 200 cities quantifies just how disparate living conditions can be from Sydney to Shenzhen [with the ratings being] used primarily by organizations to determine appropriate compensation and support services for expatriates . . . ."

Obama Orders Benefits Extended to Same-Gender Partners
Excerpt: "President Obama signed a memo June 2 extending child care, employee assistance, credit union membership and other benefits to g.ay and les.bian federal employees' same-s.ex domestic partners and their children."

FTC Postpones Its Enforcement of Identity Theft Red Flags Rule Through December 31, 2010
Excerpt: "While FTC guidance has clarified that a 401(k) plan's accounts would not need to be included in a written identity theft prevention program, further clarification would be helpful about the Red Flags Rule's application to other benefits, such as DCAPs, HRAs, HSAs, and qualified transportation plans . . . ."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Webcasts and Conferences

Reduce Costs & Simplify Your Benefits Enrollment (Webinar)
Nationwide on June 9, 2010
presented by Benefit Software Inc.

Press Releases

ABG Carolinas Partners With 401(k) Rekonô
Alliance Benefit Group Carolinas, LLC

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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Compliance Manager
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Senior Advisor, Retirement & Savings
for ConocoPhillips
in OK

Retirement Services Client Relationship Consultant
for Gallagher Retirement Services
in TX

Group Retirement Wholesaler
for Ohio National Financial Services
in IL, MI, MN, WI

Group Retirement Wholesaler
for Ohio National Financial Services
in CO, IA, KS, MO, MT, ND, NE, SD, WY

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