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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 11, 2010

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[Official Guidance]
FAQs About the Affordable Care Act Implementation Part II
Excerpt: "Like the FAQs the Departments issued on September 20, 2010, these FAQs answer questions from stakeholders with a view to helping people understand the new law and benefit from it, as intended."
(U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Guidance Overview]
Perspectives on the CLASS Act: The Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act (PDF)
20 pages. Excerpt: "The articles detail various implications for individuals, the federal government, employers, insurers and agents, and health plan providers."

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Guidance on the Expanded Adoption Tax Credit and Foreign Adoptions
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This guidance resolves the handling of prior-year adoption credits in a way that is very friendly to taxpayers. While the need for paper documentation of the credit, and therefore the need for paper tax return filings, is somewhat cumbersome, the guidance does offer a flexible assortment of substantiation options for claiming the credit for domestic adoptions that are not yet final."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Microsoft to Shift Part of Health Care Costs to Workers
Excerpt: "Currently, Microsoft covers the entire cost of healthcare benefits for nearly all of its 90,000 employees."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

How Best to Accommodate ACOs (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "On October 5, 2010, [CMS], the [FTC] and [HHS] jointly hosted a workshop with participants from different segments of the healthcare industry to gather opinions . . . regarding integrating hospital and physicians into accountable care organizations ('ACOs') and related implications on antitrust, anti-kickback, Stark and civil monetary penalty laws."
(Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP)

'Crowdsourcing' Offers New Way for Doctors to Seek Treatment Advice
Excerpt: "Crowdsourcing refers to the process of developing a group consensus by pooling ideas from a broad community, often over the Internet. Physicians can crowdsource by posting a medical question online and seeking input from thousands of medical professionals."
(California HealthCare Foundation)

Many Employees Seeing New Benefits and Rising Prices in Their Health Plans This Fall
Excerpt: "Mercer says the new benefits from the health overhaul add about 4% to premiums. The Obama administration says any impact on premiums will be minimal and in any event mitigated by provisions in the new law."
(The Wall Street Journal)

Health Care Interests Push to Make Accountable Care Organizations Pay Off for Them
Excerpt: "As envisioned by the law, ACOs would be integrated delivery systems involving doctors, hospitals and other providers whose pay would be partly based on meeting certain quality and cost targets. The goal: to improve care and slow rising costs."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

HHS Adds New Tools and Information to Health Care 'Web Portal'
Excerpt: "Time will tell whether the website accomplishes HHS's stated goal -- to 'make the health insurance market more transparent, increase competition and help lower costs for individuals.'"
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

HHS Suggests Flexibility in Application of Medical Loss Ratio Standards to Certain Health Plans, Including 'Mini-Med' Plans
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: While the MLR standards do not apply to self-insured plans, they do apply to all insurance coverage (including otherwise grandfathered coverage). As the January 1, 2011 effective date approaches for compliance with the MLR standards and with no regulations yet issued, this HHS statement seems to be intended to provide some comfort to employers and insurers that the agency will take a reasonable approach to implementation."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

What Changes in Survival Rates Tell Us About U.S. Health Care
Excerpt: "[The authors] speculate that the nature of our health care system -- specifically, its reliance on unregulated fee-for-service and specialty care -- may explain both the increased spending and the relative deterioration in survival that we observed. If so, meaningful reform may not only save money over the long term, it may also save lives."
(Health Affairs via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Engaging Large Employers Regarding Evidence-Based Behavioral Health Treatment
Excerpt: "[The project has several objectives; one objective is to] Develop an understanding of how knowledgeable large employers in the U.S. are in regards to behavioral health, collaborative care and the research supporting its effectiveness."
(National Business Group on Health)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Transition Relief Presents Opportunity to Correct 409A Document Errors Prior to Year-End
Excerpt: "Corrections made by December 31, 2010, will, in most instances, allow employees to avoid recognizing additional taxable income and taxes under Section 409A that generally will apply after 2010."
(Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Sets 2011 Blended Meals and Incidental Expenses Rates for Transportation Industry
Excerpt: "The blended M&IE rates are available to employers directly involved in moving people or goods . . . . They provide a level at which employers in the transportation industry may reimburse their employees for expenses. Employers whose employees travel frequently also may use the rates. They are intended to simplify recordkeeping for such employers, since their employees may travel during a single payroll period to many locations with different M&IE rates."
(Thompson Publishing Group Inc.)

Mandated Clawbacks Will Create New Tensions Between Executives and Boards
Excerpt: "Virtually all publicly traded companies must rewrite their clawback provisions, many of which were developed in response to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) but don't go as far as required by Dodd-Frank. Where previous law called for clawbacks after 'acts of commission' by executives, the new law mandates clawbacks from executive officers regardless of whether the acts that led to the restatement were within their control."
(Towers Watson)

SHRM Working on 'Cost Per Hire' Metric
Excerpt: "[A report] said a draft standard is now being reviewed by members of SHRM's Staffing and Workforce committee and will then be submitted to the American National Standards Institute where it can be deemed official."

Tennessee High Court Denies Benefits for Widow of Murdered Employee
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court of Tennessee has denied a claim for workers' compensation benefits by the widow of an employee whose murder at his workplace is unsolved. The state's high court agreed with lower court decisions that the employee's death was the result of a neutral assault and that the 'street risk' doctrine was inapplicable because the employer's premises were not open to the public."

LEGO Earns Kudos from Working Moms
Excerpt: "For the sixth straight year, Enfield-based LEGO Systems has made the 'Working Mother Magazine 100 Best Companies' list. The company has been recognized for its high approval rating among employees, generous family leave and flexible working conditions."
( LLC)

Wellness Programs and Employee Ownership
Wellness programs can significantly reduce health care costs while improving employee well-being, commitment, and productivity. While there are many variations on these programs, several key practices have emerged. There are also legal requirements for these programs. This issue brief features articles by leading experts on these issues as well as several detailed ESOP company case studies. The Web page for the brief features a lengthy excerpt to read.
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

Webcasts and Conferences

Health Care Reform: A Six Month Check-up
Nationwide on October 28, 2010
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Multiemployer Plan Attorneys - 2010 Pension Relief Act Guidance and Valuable Approaches
Nationwide on October 21, 2010
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Press Releases

October Declared National Renewable Energy 401(k) Month
The Renewable Energy Initiative (TREI)

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Participant Service Center Supervisor
for New York Life
in MA

Assistant Director (Member Services Call Center)
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Regional Director of Account Management
for Corporate Synergies Group, Inc.
in MD

DB/DC Pension Analyst
for Boyce & Associates, Inc.
in AZ

Business Development Officer
for Hancock Bank
in AL

Sr. Consultant/Project Leader-Strategic Planning
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

Client Service Manager - Richfield, OH
for Charles Schwab
in OH

Senior Plan Consultant
for Scholz, Klein & Friends Enlightened Retirement Group, Inc.
in TX

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