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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

August 25, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Proposed Modifications to HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules According to HITECH Act (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The stated purpose of the proposed regulations is to implement statutory amendments under HITECH, to strengthen the protection and security of health information, and to improve the workability and effectiveness of the HIPAA Rules."
(Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Interim Procedures for Federal External Review and Model Notices under Health Reform (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Grandfathered health plans are not subject to any of the claims and appeals changes under PPACA, including the external review. However, if a group health plan or benefit package/option that is part of a group health plan loses its grandfathered health plan status, it must comply with these new claims and appeals requirements."
(Hewitt Associates)

[Guidance Overview]
A Break Down of the Proposed Changes to HIPAA
Excerpt: "The proposed rule contains numerous changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule; of those changes, CDT considers the [following four] to be the most consequential. 1. Business Associates 2. Enforcement 3. Marketing 4. Research"
(Center for Democracy & Technology)

Employers See Greater Health Care Savings Through Dependent Eligibility Audits
Excerpt: "'Employers are realizing just how much money the audit process can save, especially now,' . . . . 'They're beginning to see that removing excess costs associated with ineligible dependents will help them offset any increases in plan costs they expect under health care reform.'"

'Meaningful Use' of Electronic Health Records
Excerpt: "Starting in May 2011, the federal government will begin paying bonuses to doctors, clinicians, and hospitals that have adopted the use of electronic health records (EHRs). From now until 2016 individual doctors and other providers may earn up to $44,000 from Medicare or $63,750 from Medicaid, and hospitals can earn millions of dollars, if they can demonstrate they are making 'meaningful use' of EHR systems."
(Health Affairs)

AARP Says Brand-Name Drug Prices Up 8% in 2009
Excerpt: "Over the last five years, according to the report . . ., the retail prices for the most popular brand-name drugs increased 41.5 percent, while the consumer price index rose 13.3 percent."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

Employers Urge Regulators to Ease Rules for Keeping Health Plan 'Grandfathered' Status Under Reform
Excerpt: "Extensive comments from employer groups urge more flexible rules giving employers greater ability to control costs and make other plan changes without losing grandfathered status. Specific recommendations include easing cost-sharing and contribution restrictions and allowing plans to switch from insured to self-insured status and to make network provider or formulary changes."
(Mercer LLC)

Putting a Lid on Health Care Inflation Is Possible
Excerpt: "This may well sound pie-in-the-sky-- and I'm not suggesting that we'll do it. Still, if you believe the many observers who suggest that at least one-third of our health care dollars are squandered in ways that provide no benefit to patients, in theory, we should be able to slice spending by 25%."
(The Century Foundation)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

New Tax Laws May Increase the Popularity of Life Insurance and Annuities with Long-Term-Care Riders
Excerpt: "[The] so-called combo LTC products, including annuity/LTC as well as life insurance/LTC blends, are likely to become even more popular as some deferred tax breaks take effect and pricing benefits become clearer."
(Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)

Update on California's Ban on Same-S.ex Marriage Held Unconstitutional
Excerpt: "Update: An Aug. 16, 2010, stay by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put same-s.ex weddings in California on hold while it considers the constitutionality of the state's g.ay marriage ban."
(Society for Human Resource Management)

Webcasts and Conferences

"401(k) Plans: What Every Practitioner Should Know"
Nationwide on September 22, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

"401(k) Plans: What Every Practitioner Should Know" - Atlanta
in Georgia on September 23, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

"401(k) Plans: What Every Practitioner Should Know" - Denver
in Colorado on September 22, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

"403(b) Plan Design Workshop" - Minneapolis
in Minnesota on September 24, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

"Cross-tested/Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan Design Workshop" - Denver
in Colorado on September 24, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

"Cross-tested/Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan Design Workshop" - Minneapolis
in Minnesota on September 23, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

"Cross-tested/Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan Design Workshop" - Pittsburgh
in Pennsylvania on September 22, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

2nd Annual Retiree Healthcare Congress
in Nevada on October 25, 2010
presented by Global Media Dynamics

Form 8928 and Excise Tax Compliance: COBRA, HIPAA, Health Reform, and Other Rules
Nationwide on September 14, 2010
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

Press Releases

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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Installation Administrator
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, LLP
in MN

for UC Office of the President
in CA

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