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September 13, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Essential Health Benefits Include . . .
Excerpt: "One of the many difficulties faced by employers is determining what constitutes an essential health benefit on which there can be no annual or lifetime dollar limits on the value of benefits. There is no definition of what constitutes an essential health benefit beyond the following list . . . ."
(Greta Cowart on BNA Pension & Benefits Blog)

[Guidance Overview]
Guidance on Annual Limit Waivers Released
Excerpt: "Plan sponsors with an insured benefit option they believe is eligible for a waiver should review the plan with their insurance carrier and determine whether the carrier will apply for a waiver for all such plans in their book of business. If the insurer applies for a waiver for the plan option, the plan sponsor would not have to do so."
(Segal)

[Guidance Overview]
Healthcare Reform Implementation Opportunities and Challenges for Employers and Consumers
Excerpt: "The new health reform law will significantly affect the way employers provide health coverage to their employees, and will transform many of the choices and protections consumers have in the marketplace. This briefing explored the major provisions in the law that relate to these changes."
(Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Guidance Overview]
HHS Releases Annual Health Coverage Limit Waiver Guidance
Excerpt: "Federal regulators have issued guidance on how 'limited benefit' or 'mini-med' health care plans can apply for waivers from rules restricting and then banning essential benefit limits."
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

[Guidance Overview]
Guidance Issued on Process for Obtaining Waivers of the Annual Healthcare Plan Limit Requirements
Excerpt: "Note that a waiver granted under the guidance applies only for the plan or policy year beginning on or after September 23, 2010 and before September 23, 2011. A plan or insurer must reapply for subsequent years prior to January 1, 2014, when the waiver expires."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Provides Guidance on Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Restriction
Excerpt: "The guidance allows tax-free reimbursements for OTC drugs that were purchased before 2011 and held in a 'shoebox' for later reimbursement."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Issues Draft Form 8941 for Calculating Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for 2010
Excerpt: "The small business health care tax credit, which is effective for the 2010 taxable year, allows eligible small employers that offer health insurance coverage to their employees to take a tax credit of up to 35% of the nonelective contributions they make toward premium cost . . . . The draft Form 8941 that is currently available is an advance proof copy . . . ."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Crunch Time: As Health Care Costs Rise, Businesses Face Tough Decisions
Excerpt: "Facing increases of 9 percent or more in health benefits plans, many companies will shift more of the cost of health care to their employees next year."
(Tampa Bay Business Journal)

New Jersey Governor to Go After Health Benefits
Excerpt: "With the state facing a long-term $66.8 billion liability, Gov. Chris Christie will soon be targeting a benefit that government workers have long held dear: health insurance."
(CourierPostOnline.com)

Health Costs: They'll Spike, Then Slow Down
Excerpt: "It will be at least five years before health care reform triggers a sustained slowdown in the pace of spending, according to new government estimates released on Thursday."
(CNNMoney.com)

HHS Launches First Spanish-Language Health Care Consumer Web Site
Excerpt: "[CuidadodeSalud.gov is] the first Web site in Spanish of its kind to help consumers take control of their health care by connecting them to new information and resources that will help them access quality, affordable health care coverage."
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

[Opinion]
Healthcare Reform Is Source of Medical Inflation: Repeal and Replace It
Excerpt: "We were told that most Americans would pay less for their health care. Yet the Obama administration's own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services just reported that health care costs will instead go up by over $1,000 per year by 2019 for a family of four."
(George Pataki in USA TODAY)

[Opinion]
Don't Blame Healthcare Reform for Rising Costs of Care
Excerpt: "Outraged that you'll be paying nearly two-thirds more than you do now? Ready to demand repeal of the reform law passed early this year? Think again."
(USA TODAY)




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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Pension, Health Benefits Under Scrutiny for University of California Employees
Excerpt: "UC's governing board of regents is scheduled to vote on a proposal to increase the amount current employees and the university contribute to the retirement plan. The payments would go up over the next two years, so that by July 2012, employees would pay 5 percent of their salaries to the retirement plan and UC would pay 10 percent."
(Fresno Bee)

Connecticut Governor Proposes Pension Changes
Excerpt: "Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell has proposed creating a defined contribution plan for new state employees among other efforts to help the state cope with $34 billion in unfunded pension and retiree health benefits liabilities."
(Business Insurance)

[Opinion]
Public Workers' Generous Benefits Come at a Price
Excerpt: "Several forces contribute to the gap between public and private sectors. For one, state law prohibits many public employees from striking and that prohibition comes at a price of ensuring fairness for those employees. In addition, many public workers accept lower salaries in exchange for generous health care benefits."
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)


Press Releases

Owner of Los Angeles-based Amadeus Salon Indicted for Embezzlement of Retirement Plan Assets
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)


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