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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

November 8, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
IRS's 2011 Adjusted Limits for Long Term Care, MSAs, Adoption Assistance, and Tax Credit Limits
Excerpt: "This revenue procedure does not include a number of adjustments normally listed, including the qualified transportation fringe under IRC Sec. 132 and the child tax credit under Sec. 24."
(Wolters Kluwer)

[Guidance Overview]
DOL Staff Members Provide Informal Views on Fiduciary Status, SPDs, Wellness, and More
Excerpt: "The Joint Committee on Employee Benefits . . . of the American Bar Association has reported on its May 5, 2010 Q&A session with DOL staff members. Highlights include unofficial, nonbinding remarks about [various welfare plan topics.]"
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Explanation on When Gym Fees Will Qualify as Medical Care Expenses
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: While this information letter discusses the medical expense deduction, its analysis may also help plan administrators determine whether gym fees are reimbursable under a health FSA and HRA, or may help an individual determine whether the fees may be paid from an HSA on a tax-free basis."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform FAQs on Grandfathered Health Plans and Lifetime Limits
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: We are not sure that the reformulation of the rule in Q/A-1 provides much clarification. The regulation in question requires a statement about grandfather status 'in any plan materials provided to a participant or beneficiary describing the benefits provided under the plan or health insurance coverage.'"
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
TRICARE Providers Are Federal Subcontractors, Says Judge
Excerpt: "In a decision that could expand the jurisdiction of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs over health care providers, an administrative law judge with the U.S. Department of Labor has held that a hospital that subcontracted to provide medical services to TRICARE beneficiaries is a federal subcontractor subject to the affirmative action laws."
(Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP)

SHRM Poll Finds Paid Holiday Totals Same for 2011 as for 2010
Excerpt: "A news release from the Society for Human Resource Management . . . said 97% of organizations offer one or more paid holidays per year. Thanksgiving Day (97%), New Year's Day and Independence Day (both 96%), Labor Day (95%), Memorial Day (95%), and Christmas Day (94%) are the holidays that organizations overwhelmingly plan to observe in 2011."

AARP Shifts Health Plan Costs to Avoid 'Cadillac Plan' Tax
Excerpt: "Lobbying organization AARP has announced an 8%-hike in employee health insurance costs to 13% - in part, it says, because of the health care reform law. An Associated Press news report said AARP is also reshuffling its copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40% 'Cadillac Plan' tax on high-cost health plans taking effect in 2018 under the law."

Large Employers Said to Comprise Fastest-Growing Market for High-Deductible/HSA Plans
Excerpt: "According to a survey by [America's Health Insurance Plans], the number of large employers offering these plans increased by 33 percent between January 2009 and January 2010."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

Employers Struggle with Increasing Costs to Insure Workers
Excerpt: "[However, a] 'company that keeps its health plans relatively unchanged by retaining the same insurance carrier and passing on no more than minimal cost increases to employees could be exempt from many of the law's changes -- such as the elimination of co-payments for dozens of preventive services'"
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

More Physicians Working for Hospitals Rather Than Hanging a Shingle
Excerpt: "The latest sign of the continued shift comes from a large Medical Group Management Association survey, which found that the share of responding practices that were hospital-owned last year hit 55%, up from 50% in 2008 and around 30% five years earlier."
(The Wall Street Journal)

U.S. Watching Massachusetts Fight to Contain Health Costs
Excerpt: "As the governor's lieutenants draft a bill on payment overhaul to submit to the Legislature in January, representatives of medical care providers, insurers, employers, and consumers met yesterday to try to craft a workable cost-control plan."
(The Boston Globe)

An employer writes:

"I have to tell you that of all the job boards Iíve ever used, this one has the best quality of candidates. I donít get flooded with tons of resumes, and even the candidates who arenít fit for the jobs we have donít miss the mark by much."

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]
Federal Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' Notice of Intent to Rescind Compensation Guidelines
Excerpt: "The OMB must review proposed regulatory actions before such actions may be published in the Federal Register. There is no anticipated date for completion of OMB's review so the effective date is uncertain."
(Jackson Lewis LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
'Cost Basis' Regulations Impact Stock-Based Compensation
Excerpt: "[The final regulations better explain the types of arrangements that will (and will not) be subject to these rules.]"
(Groom Law Group)

The Dodd-Frank Act: Corporate Governance and Executive Compensation (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "[The article provides] insight on the effects the Dodd-Frank Act are having on corporate governance and executive compensation practices at public companies. [Reprinted with permission from Financier Worldwide Limited]."
(Faegre & Benson LLP)

Starbucks' Employees Say Conditions and Benefits Have Deteriorated Amid Cost-Cutting, Competition
Excerpt: "Starbucks still offers better compensation than most of its peers -- even after its painful retrenchment in 2008 and 2009. Nevertheless, its roughly 105,000 cafe workers are grappling with higher out-of-pocket medical costs, lost personal days, slower vacation accrual and hourly pay that is lower than at some of its fast-growing rivals."

Audio and Text: Walmart Will Cover Up to 15 Percent of Tuition Toward College Degrees for Employees
Excerpt: "The world's largest retailer is now offering its 1.4 mil.lion employees a college education. Through a partnership with American Public University, employees can take online courses toward a bachelor's or master's degree."
(National Public Radio)

Employers Addressing Bedbug Problems
Excerpt: "Amid growing concerns about commercial bedbug infestations -- particularly in New York, where the bloodsuckers have been reported in retail stores, movie theaters and office buildings -- employers need to know what to look for and how to react when potential problems arise, experts say."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

Las Vegas, Nevada, Police Contract Finally Reveals Hidden Benefits
Excerpt: "[S]even executives of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, who work nights and weekends only when necessary and who are not essential in protecting the public, for years have received both assignment pay and shift pay. Although they are paid at public expense, the arrangement was never publicly disclosed until written into the last police employee contract, and then only partially."
(Las Vegas Review-Journal)

American Benefits Council Letter Regarding Executive Compensation Provisions of Dodd-Frank Act (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "Read literally, the new pay ratio disclosure provision in § 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act could impose requirements that may be extremely difficult for most public companies to satisfy."
(American Benefits Council)

How Will the 2010 Mid-Term Election Results Impact Employers?
Excerpt: "In the wake of victories that allowed Republicans to take control of the House and gain influence in the Senate, many businesses hope to see reforms of what they view as the anti-business policies of the Obama administration."
(Ford & Harrison LLP)

Webcasts and Conferences

"DOL and IRS Compliant Participant Notices" Web Seminar
Nationwide on November 30, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

"PTIN and Me: New Rules, New Duties, New Questions" Web Seminar, An Encore Presentation
Nationwide on November 23, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius

Expanded NY CLE Program: Hot Developments in M&A Benefits, Including Dealing with PBGC Downsizing Liability
in New York on November 16, 2010
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network ), New York Chapter

Lessons from the 2010 Annual Audit Season and Upcoming Technical Developments for 2011
in California on November 18, 2010
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference - Orange County Chapter

Press Releases

CEFEX Enhances Investment Advisor Certification Program
Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX)

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Defined Contribution Analyst I or II
for The Standard
in OH

Health Benefits Team Leader
for General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist
in IL

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