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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

July 13, 2010

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Webcast content will provide information for multiemployer and single employer plans. For multiemployer plans, it will cover how plans will have more time to make up for the investment losses incurred in 2008 and 2009, the solvency-based test and restrictions on plan amendments increasing benefits. For single employers, it will review what the extended amortization options are and a brief guide to the many other details and special rules.

[Guidance Overview]
DOL's FAQ on Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act Regulations
Excerpt: "his FAQ will make it easier for plan sponsors to determine whether financial requirements (such as copayments) or treatment limits applicable to outpatient services for mental health or substance use disorders will be permissible under the MHPAEA regulations."
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

Survey Reveals Employers' Reactions to Various Health Care Reform Provisions
Excerpt: "A key takeaway from a recent survey on this topic by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans . . .: Despite a slew of health care reform challenges, most (87%) employers remain confident that they will continue to offer health care benefits to their active employees because they are critical to employee recruitment, retention and remaining competitive."
(Wolters Kluwer)

OBRA vs HIPAA: Who Has the Right to Demand Access to Medical Records?
Excerpt: "Here's what creates the issue - most of you know that under [OBRA] regulations for nursing facilities, and state licensure law for both SNFs and assisted living communities, residents have a right to see and obtain a copy of their medical records. But you also know that HIPAA precludes or restricts the disclosure of residents' protected health information . . . , which includes virtually anything in a medical record, except in very limited situations."
(Poyner Spruill LLP)

How Do Employers React to a Pay-or-Play Mandate? Early Evidence from San Francisco
Excerpt: "There is substantial employer demand for the public option, with 21% of firms using Healthy San Francisco for at least some employees, yet there is little evidence of firms dropping existing insurance offerings in the first year after implementation."
(National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

The Risk of Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenditure at End of Life
Excerpt: "Total out-of-pocket expenditures are strongly positively related to wealth and weakly related to income. We find evidence for a mechanism by which wealth could plausibly buy health: large expenditures on home modifications, helpers, home health care, and higher-quality nursing homes, which have been shown elsewhere to improve longevity."
(National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

Researchers Report Average 21.7% Premium Growth for Employer-Sponsored Coverage for Private-Sector Employees in Massachusetts After State's Health Law Passage
Excerpt: "'Because the [Massachusetts] plan's main components are the same as those of the new health reform law, the effects of the plan provide a window into the country's future,' the authors wrote in a report published earlier this year by in the academic journal Forum for Health Economics & Policy."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Multiemployer Plan Trustees Conflicted When Deciding Claims, Appeals Court Rules
Excerpt: "Giving weight to this conflict -- applying the Supreme Court's analysis in Glenn -- the appeals court found the trustees abused their discretion in denying disability benefits. The court rejected a 2009 Ninth Circuit finding that Taft-Hartley trustees have no conflict because both employers and unions are at the table . . . ."
(Mercer LLC)

Same-S.ex Spouses of Legally Wed Federal Employees Are Entitled to Benefits, According to Judge
Excerpt: "A federal judge ruled . . . that denying the same-s.ex spouses of legally married federal employees access to benefits such as health care is unconstitutional."

Medical Home Approach to Care Can Improve the Sickest Employees' Health and Reduce Costs
Excerpt: "Last fall, Boeing announced the completion of a two-year pilot program in Seattle-area clinics for patients with chronic illnesses who get their health insurance through the company. The program . . . was based on the concept of the medical home, which puts patients at the center of a team of nurses and doctors who are paid extra to actively manage a person's health and health care."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

New Trend in Bonuses: 'Phantom Stock'
Excerpt: "[Phantom stock] is simply a promise to pay an employee a bonus that is directly tied to the value of a company's stock, but without actually giving an individual shares."

New BLS Data Series Highlights Employee Access to Medical Care and Retirement Benefits (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Data on access to medical care and retirement have been available separately in the past, but 2009 is the first time that the percent of employees that have both or neither benefits have been published."
(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

IRS/Treasury Officials Provide Informal Views on Variety of Benefit Topics, Including Leave Sharing, HSAs, and 401(k) Plans
Excerpt: "While the answers in the report [on the views and remarks of the officials] do not necessarily represent IRS or Treasury policy, they provide helpful insight regarding the issues addressed. "
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Webcasts and Conferences

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Press Releases

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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Administrator
for MVP Plan Administrators, Inc.
in NC

Client Services Associate
for Milliman
in TX

Transition Manager
for OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc.
in IN

ESOP Administrator
for Swerdlin & Company
in GA

Regulatory Policy Analyst
for National Business Group on Health
in DC

EBS Account Specialist 1
for SunTrust Bank
in DC

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