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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 7, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
HHS's New Information on Its Early Retiree Reinsurance Program Website
Excerpt: "The focus of the new information is that plan sponsors with an ERRP-approved application may now submit their lists of early retirees to the secure ERRP website. Guidance is provided on how to identify early retirees and how to format the list and submit it to HHS. Early retiree lists MUST be filed with HHS before a claim for reimbursement may be submitted. HHS reiterates that plan sponsors will be able to submit these claims in October."
(The ERISA Industry Committee)

Important Dates to Remember Related to Health Benefits
Excerpt: "The . . . checklist provides insurance agents/brokers, employers and benefits and payroll professionals a checklist of key upcoming dates and deadlines related to health benefits."

It's Time for Plan Sponsors to Reassess Their Options Under Part D (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Healthcare reform legislation has resulted in significant changes to prescription drug plan options under Medicare Part D. A new article . . . considers why plan sponsors should reexamine their existing approaches to prescription drug coverage and take advantage of the new opportunities available since passage of the new healthcare laws."
(The Bureau of National Affairs via Milliman)

Health Care Law's Guidelines on Premiums' Use Take Shape
Excerpt: "[D]eciding which expenses insurers can include has been proving a monumental and controversial task for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners . . . . Write the 'medical loss ratio' rules too expansively, consumer advocates warn, and insurers will subvert the spirit of the law by passing off overhead and administrative expenses as activities that benefit patient health."
(The Washington Post; free registration required)

McDonald's and 29 Other Firms Get Health Care Coverage Waivers
Excerpt: "The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn't lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether. Without waivers, companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 mil.lion in 2012, $2 mil.lion in 2013 and unlimited in 2014."

Waivers Address Talk of Dropping Health Coverage
Excerpt: "The waivers have been issued in the last several weeks as part of a broader strategic effort to stave off threats by some health insurers to abandon markets, drop out of the business altogether or refuse to sell certain policies."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

Court Sends Retiree Health Dispute to Arbitration
Excerpt: "[A District Court] found that even though a collective bargaining agreement calling for such arbitration had expired, the newspaper company's dispute with the Newspaper Guild of St. Louis over the issue was still subject to arbitration because rights accrued under the union contract potentially were being infringed upon."

Hewitt Comments on Claims and Appeals and External Review Processes
Excerpt: "Hewitt addressed the following issues in the letter: Existing External Review Processes; De Novo Review; Deemed Exhaustion of the Internal Claims and Appeals Process; New or Additional Evidence; Notice Requirements; Expedited Notification of Benefit Determinations Involving Urgent Care[.]"
(Hewitt Associates)

ERIC Comment Letter Urges Flexibility in Operation of State-Level Exchanges Under PPACA
Excerpt: "ERIC's letter noted the strong interest of employers in how effectively the exchanges manage their health-care coverage operations and the impact of expected significant changes and developments in the areas of health-care cost containment, quality, transparency, delivery, payment reform, wellness and prevention efforts, and the adoption of health information technology."
(The ERISA Industry Committee)

Reminding Ourselves What Has Gone Right with the Health Law
Excerpt: " The biggest improvements in the health insurance marketplace will not begin until 2014, but already, there are new measures that will protect consumers from dangerous holes in their coverage."
(Tom Daschle via Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Insurance Is a Strange Model for Health Care
Excerpt: "[F]or something that is predictable, ongoing, needed by everyone, or necessary for the welfare of our community, an insurance model makes absolutely no sense. That's why we don't use an insurance model to provide police or fire services or to provide an education to our children. For these we use the tax model. Basic essential health care should also be in this category."
(Physicians for a National Health Program)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Small Business Jobs Act Simplifies Taxation of Cell Phone Usage
Excerpt: "New legislation, which takes effect immediately, simplifies substantiation rules for employer-provided cell phones and other similar telecommunications equipment."
(McDermott Will & Emery)

Employees Value Employers More that Offer Voluntary Benefits
Excerpt: "According to a survey conducted for insurer WellPoint, Inc., most employees (83%) think more highly of employers that offer voluntary insurance benefits than those that don't."

Segal Responds to GASB's Preliminary Views on Pension and Financial Accounting (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "'In our view, if adopted, GASB's Preliminary Views would result in significant 'game changers' to the financial reporting for public sector retirement and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) plans.'"
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

Webcasts and Conferences

Complimentary Update - Form 1099-R Penalty Changes
Nationwide on October 7, 2010
presented by Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC

Multi-Cultural Plan Communications Challenges-Opportunities-Resources
Nationwide on October 27, 2010
presented by Cross Cultural Benefit Communications

Notice 2010-15 - Miscellaneous HEART Act Changes Plan Amendments
Nationwide on October 14, 2010
presented by AccuDraft, Inc.

Qualified Plan Amendments: What To Do By Year End
Nationwide on November 9, 2010
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Retirement Plans: Large Plan Audits
in California on October 19, 2010
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference, San Diego Chapter

Press Releases

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