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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 19, 2010

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Join the nation's top retirement services marketing, sales, administration and record keeping professionals at the SPARK Forum. Gain insights into the latest industry trends. Attend sessions designed specifically for TPAs, Advisors and RIAs. Participate in interactive sessions on marketing, operations, investments and distribution issues, and network with peers from national banks, insurance companies, mutual fund complexes, investment firms, third party administrators, benefit consulting organizations and financial advisory firms.

[Guidance Overview]
Domestic Partner Laws in Washington: How State Law and Health Care Reform Impact Section 125 Plans and Health Plans
Excerpt: "This advisory outlines some preliminary steps employers should take to ensure compliance with the law, answers some key questions employers may have regarding health benefits and tax issues, and analyzes how the new law impacts Section 125 plans in comparison to the underlying benefit arrangements."
(Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Additional Guidance on Market Reform Provisions of Health Care Reform Law (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "In recent weeks, [the agencies responsible for implementing health care reform] have begun issuing 'sub-regulatory' guidance . . . ."
(Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]
Round-up of Recent Guidance on Health Care Reform (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "The new items . . . include: [Frequently] Asked Questions relating to PPACA implementation for group health plans . . . . DOL Technical Release 2010-02 - providing a grace period for implementing new claims and appeals procedures for non-grandfathered plans. IRS Notice 2010-63 - explaining the penalties that apply to a discriminatory fully-insured health plan. Revised Model Notice of Adverse Benefit Determination. Revenue Ruling 2010-23 - confirming expenses for most over the counter drugs cannot be reimbursed under cafeteria plans, HRAs or HSAs beginning January 1, 2011. IRS Notice 2010-69 - making reporting of health plan costs on Form W-2 optional for 2011. Early Retiree Reimbursement Guidance - providing several items to assist plan sponsors in requesting reimbursements under the program."
(Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Employers that Contribute to Multiemployer Health Plans Are Not Required to Report Coverage Costs on W-2 Forms for 2011
Excerpt: "Representatives of multiemployer plans have tried to impress on the IRS and Treasury how difficult it would be for individual multiemployer-plan contributors to determine how much health coverage their contributions had actually funded for their specific employees, and the need for special streamlined rules to make this W-2 reporting requirement feasible in the multiemployer context."
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

[Guidance Overview]
Court Finds Private School Failed on COBRA Notice Mandate
Excerpt: "[The judge] ruled that federal court case law indicated that the employer was responsible for giving new employees their initial COBRA notices when their coverage started and that the school, Academia Sagrado Corazon, had not done so."
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

[Guidance Overview]
Employer Held Liable for Failure to Provide Initial Notices; Unclear Who Was to Provide Election Notices
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Although this court concluded that the employer was responsible for providing the COBRA initial notice, we note that DOL COBRA regulations require the plan administrator to provide the initial notice. The plan administrator is the person designated in the plan instrument. And if no such person is designated, then the plan administrator is the plan sponsor (e.g., the employer)."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
The Affordable Care Act: More Clarity on Grandfathered Plans and Two New Grace Periods
Excerpt: "Only the six changes identified in the regulation will cause a plan to lose its grandfathered status."
(Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)

Campaign Claims: Health Law Myths and Facts
Excerpt: "The debate that preceded passage of the health-care overhaul resumed as a heated issue in the midterm elections. Politicians and advocacy groups seeking repeal of the law are making dramatic claims about its cost and effects. How valid are they? We evaluate some of the most common criticisms."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

'Medical Loss Ratio' Rule with January Deadline Could Cause More Insurers to Drop Health Care Coverage or Go Out of Business
Excerpt: "The Obama administration is awaiting the recommendation of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, meeting in Orlando this week, for how and when to implement key changes to the 'Medical Loss Ratio' rule."
(Cable News Network)

Chaplains at Work Help Employees Handle Stress
Excerpt: "About 20 South Florida companies offer a chaplain service as a benefit through Corporate Chaplains of America, a Christian non-denominational counseling service based in Raleigh, N.C. The chaplains can assist with stressful situations that affect workers, including divorce, financial problems, and lately, home loan modifications and foreclosures."
(Orlando Sentinel)

U.S. Sues Michigan Blue Cross Over Pricing
Excerpt: "The Justice Department sued Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on Monday, asserting that the company, the state's dominant health insurer, had violated antitrust laws and secured a huge competitive advantage by forcing hospitals to charge higher prices to Blue Cross's rivals."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

Chief Human Resource Officer Concerns with the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act
Excerpt: "A new report . . . shows that chief human resource officers believe PPACA could result in far more employees receiving subsidized coverage through health insurance exchanges rather than through the employer-provided insurance that was anticipated by Congress."
(HR Policy Association)

Measuring Health Risk: Surveys vs. Screening
Excerpt: "Hiring clinicians to check employee blood pressure and other risk factors is typically more costly than simply asking workers to fill out a survey. But is the additional cost and effort worth it? Researchers and other experts differ regarding which companies might benefit, and why."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

Compensation Analyst for Asheville, North Carolina, Human Resources Department Pleads Guilty to Receiving $19,052 in Fraudulent Flexible Spending Account Reimbursements
Excerpt: "According to a separate account of the case from the Society for Human Resource Management . . ., the charges were filed in March 2010 after the Asheville City Police investigated allegations that several members of the city's HR staff of 12 were abusing the city's Flexible Spending Account . . . program."
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

Walmart Sued for Firing Employee over Cancer-Related Disability
Excerpt: "According to an EEOC lawsuit, the employee had successfully worked as a forklift operator at a Walmart distribution center in Midway, Tennessee, for 12 years. He was a productive worker for three years following cancer surgery which left him with weakness in his right shoulder and arm."
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

It's About Time to Check the Fine Print on Your Health Plan
Excerpt: "This is the time of year when your employer allows you to make changes to your benefits package -- most importantly, to your health insurance. . . . As in years past, employers will be rejiggering their plans with an eye toward passing much of this year's increase in health insurance costs to employees."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

[Opinion]
Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project Letter to HHS Regarding National Health Care Quality Strategy (PDF)
Excerpt: "[W]e appreciate the opportunity to provide our responses to . . . ten questions as posed by the Department."
(American Benefits Council)




An employer writes:

"I have to tell you that of all the job boards I've ever used, this one has the best quality of candidates. I don't get flooded with tons of resumes, and even the candidates who aren't fit for the jobs we have don't miss the mark by much."


Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Nonqualified Plans Still Liked by Tax-Exempt Organizations
Excerpt: "According to Mercer's Executive Benefit and Perquisite Practices Survey for Tax-Exempt Organizations, these plans are most prevalent among health care organizations (60%), followed by foundations and charities (50% and 32%, respectively). Among all tax-exempt sectors, the prevalence of nonqualified plans significantly decreases when moving down the executive ranks."
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

2011 IRS Limits Announced
Excerpt: "The 2011 HSA limits were announced in May. The remaining limits were announced by the Treasury in mid-October."
(Kushner & Company)

Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 Expands Employee Protection Under USERRA
Excerpt: "The Act, which passed in the House over one year ago, is a compromise measure between the House and the Senate and encompasses several veterans' benefits bills."
(Haynes and Boone, LLP)

San Diego, California, City Council Mandates Equal Benefits for Domestic Partners of Their Contractors' Employees
Excerpt: "Starting Jan. 1, any company entering into, extending or renewing a contract with the city will have to comply with the new law."
(KPBS Public Broadcasting)

The Financial Time Bomb of Longer Lives
Excerpt: "No other force is as likely to shape the future of national economic health, public finances and national policies, according to a new analysis on global aging from Standard & Poor's, as the 'irreversible rate at which the population is growing older.'"
(The New York Times; free registration required)


Webcasts and Conferences

401(k) Advisor Symposium- Costa Mesa, CA
in California on November 2, 2010
presented by 401k Rekon

401(k) Advisor Symposium- Houston, TX
in Texas on October 26, 2010
presented by 401(k) Rekon

401(k) Fee Disclosure: What You Need to Know and What You Need to Do
in California on November 4, 2010
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Wellness Program Checkup: A Clean Bill of Health for 2011
Nationwide on November 8, 2010
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters


Press Releases

PBGC Announces Maximum Insurance Benefit for 2011
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

NEA Member Benefits to Offer Still River's Retirement Planning Software
Still River Retirement Planning Software, Inc.

Thomas Finnegan Elected ASPPA President
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)


Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Consultant
for Federated Investors, Inc.
in PA

Senior Plan Consultant
for BPA, A BPAS Company
in PA

Retirement Consultant
for The Meltzer Group
in MD




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