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November 16, 2010

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[Official Guidance]
Text of EBSA 'Fact Sheet' Summarizing Amendments to Interim Final Regs on Status of Grandfathered Health Plans (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Previously, one of the ways an employer group health plan could lose its grandfather status was if the employer changed issuers -- switching from one insurance company to another. The original regulation only allowed self-funded plans to change third-party administrators without necessarily losing their grandfathered plan status. Today's amendment allows all group health plans to switch insurance companies and shop for the same coverage at a lower cost and maintain their grandfather status, so long as the structure of the coverage doesn't violate one of the other rules for maintaining grandfathered plan status [such as significant cost increases or a reduction in benefits]."
(U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Official Guidance]
Text of Amendment to Interim Final Regs on Status as Grandfathered Health Plan Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PDF)
35 pages. Scheduled for publication in the November 17 Federal Register. Excerpt: "This amendment modifies . . . the interim final regulations, which previously caused a group health plan to cease to be a grandfathered health plan if the plan entered into a new policy, certificate, or contract of insurance. The modification provides that a group health plan does not cease to be grandfathered health plan coverage merely because the plan (or its sponsor) enters into a new policy, certificate, or contract of insurance after March 23, 2010 (for example, a plan enters into a contract with a new issuer or a new policy is issued with an existing issuer). The amendment applies to such changes to group health insurance coverage that are effective on or after [November 15, 2010], the date the amendment to the interim final regulations was made available for public inspection; the amendment does not apply retroactively to such changes to group health insurance coverage that were effective before this date. For this purpose, the date the new coverage becomes effective is the operative date, not the date a contract for a new policy, certificate or contract of insurance is entered into. . . . Notwithstanding the ability to change health insurance coverage pursuant to the modification made by the amendment, if the new policy, certificate, or contract of insurance includes changes described in paragraph (g)(1) of the interim final regulations, the plan ceases to be a grandfathered health plan. . . . The amendment also provides that, to maintain status as a grandfathered health plan, a group health plan that enters into a new policy, certificate, or contract of insurance must provide to the new health insurance issuer (and the new health insurance issuer must require) documentation of plan terms (including benefits, cost sharing, employer contributions, and annual limits) under the prior health coverage sufficient to determine whether any change described in paragraph (g)(1) is being made."
(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; U.S. Department of Labor; U.S. Department of the Treasury)

[Official Guidance]
Text of Request for Information to Facilitate the Federal External Review Process (PDF)
11 pages. Excerpt: "This notice is a request for information . . . to gain market analysis information in advance of one or more future Requests for Proposals . . . . This RFI solicits information that will enable the Departments of Health and Human Services . . . and Labor . . . to conduct a market analysis and assist the Departments in planning and developing the Federal external review process."
(U.S. Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight; U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Guidance Overview]
Subregulatory Guidance on Annual Limit Waivers and MLR for Mini-Med Policies (PDF)
Excerpt: "[This bulletin] discusses the following items: Special rules for application of MLR provisions to mini-med plans; Group health plan notice of waiver; State application for waiver in state-mandated policies; Standards used to assess waiver applications; and Record retention and audits."
(Aon Hewitt)

[Guidance Overview]
EEOC's New GINA Regulations Allow for Wellness Plans
Excerpt: "The EEOC's title II regulations provide employers and other covered entities that offer health or genetic services - including services under a voluntary wellness program - with a specific exception. Under the exception, the general prohibition against requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information does not apply if . . . four requirements are met."
(Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)

[Guidance Overview]
DOL Updates Employer Model CHIP Notice
Excerpt: "[DOL] has updated as of Nov. 3, a notice that employers providing group health coverage may use to notify eligible employees about Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program . . . premium assistance programs available in their home states."
(Mercer LLC)

[Guidance Overview]
2011 Medicare Premiums, Deductibles and Coinsurance
Excerpt: "Plan sponsors that pay the Medicare Part B premium or deductible should carefully review their plan documents and communications to assure that they are accurately stating the amount that the plan intends to pay."
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

The Question of Drug-Pricing Transparency in Contracts with Pharmacy-Benefit Managers
Excerpt: "The new healthcare-reform law mandates expanded disclosure of rebates, discounts and price concessions provided to pharmacy-benefit managers, but even before the law went into effect, some PBMs were willing to disclose the 'actual average inventory cost,' or AAIC, to plan sponsors. That's a big advance from the most-often-used 'average wholesale price,' experts say."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

HHS Seeking to Publish New Health Insurance Data
Excerpt: "'The Department of Health and Human Services is working on regulations that would allow it to publish additional in-depth health insurance data, including the number of people enrolled in each insurance plan.'"
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Does GINA Really Require You to Change Your FMLA Certification Form?
Excerpt: "[H]ere is the language from the rules - we still think it means that the safe harbor language should be included in your FMLA certification forms, but you can decide for yourself . . . ."
(Franczek Radelet PC)




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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

'Top 10' Year-End Tax Planning Strategies in Light of 2010 Tax Legislation
Excerpt: "[I]n addition to implementing tax law changes taking effect in 2011, corporate tax executives must begin making contingency arrangements in the event that items such as the Bush tax cuts and the so-called 'extenders' package are not addressed before the end of the year. Given the dynamic and uncertain legislative environment, [we provide] recommendations as to the 'Top 10' year-end tax planning strategies that corporate tax executives should be considering."
(Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

Executive Perquisites Still Continue As Regular Fixture in Many HR Executive Pay Packages
Excerpt: "Increased public scrutiny has probably contributed to the leveling off of executive perquisites, but a recent analysis shows that two-thirds of HR executives receive some form of perk. The larger the company, the more likely HR leaders would receive perks, although there were industry differences."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Maryland Commission Studying Pension and Retiree Benefits Plans Public Hearing
Excerpt: "Maryland currently has an estimated $33 bil.lion in unfunded liabilities for benefits it has promised to pay over the next three decades -- $18 bil.lion for pensions and $15 bil.lion for retiree health insurance."
(citybizlist)

Job Perks Begin to Reappear in Workplaces
Excerpt: "Renewable energy company Covanta Energy, for instance, will revive the holiday luncheon that it tabled last year for workers at its Fairfield, N.J., headquarters. And folks at Domino's Pizza will be eligible for bigger bonuses this year."
(USA TODAY)

National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Co-Chairs' Proposal [11/10/2010 Draft Document] (PDF)
50 pages. Excerpt: "Our plan makes five basic recommendations: 1. Enact tough discretionary spending caps and provide $200 bil.lion in illustrative domestic and defense savings in 2015. 2. Pass tax reform that dramatically reduces rates, simplifies the code, broadens the base, and reduces the deficit. 3. Address the 'Doc Fix' not through deficit spending but through savings from payment reforms, cost-sharing, and malpractice reform, and long-term measures to control health care cost growth. 4. Achieve mandatory savings from farm subsidies, military and civil service retirement. 5. Ensure Social Security solvency for the next 75 years while reducing poverty among seniors."
(National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform)

$200 Bil.lion in Illustrative Savings (Draft Document Updated 11/12/2010) (PDF)
24 pages. Illustrated FY 2015 Savings are Domestic: $100.2 Billion, Defense: $100.1 Billion with a Total: $200.3 Billion.
(National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform)

The President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability Will Hold First Meeting November 30, 2010
Registration closes on Nov. 23, 2010 or when it reaches capacity. Go to the target page for further details.
(President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability)

Bringing Canines to Work Is a Doggone Good Idea, Experts Say
Excerpt: "Dogs can foster greater employee trust and collaboration in the workplace, researchers at Central Michigan University say."
(Chicago Tribune)

More Companies Launching Workplace Banking Programs
Excerpt: "Local banks are reporting a resurgence in the popularity of workplace banking programs, as companies look for low-cost measures to beef up benefits in a constrained economic environment. These programs typically offer employees free or discounted financial services, while providing banks a source of new customers."
(The Washington Post; free registration required)

Aging Workers, Be Wary of Discrimination
Excerpt: "New evidence linking aging workers to the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is scary on two fronts. First, it ties declining job performance with common symptoms of the dementia that now affects 5 mil.lion Americans. By 2040, that number is expected to quadruple."
(www.delawareonline.com)

Employee Ownership Update for November 15, 2010
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses the following: A district court ruled the purchase of unregistered shares for the Tribune ESOP was a prohibited transaction. There are no COLA changes for defined contribution plans in 2011. There is a new site for nonqualified deferred compensation plans. Penmac Staffing is now one of the largest employee-owned companies. The failure to include amounts from option and ESPP exercises is causing errors in calculating compensation in 401(k) plans.
(The National Center for Employee Ownership)


Webcasts and Conferences

5500 System Webcast
Nationwide on November 18, 2010
presented by ASC (Actuarial Systems Corporation)


Press Releases

Amendment to Regulation on “Grandfathered” Health Plans under the Affordable Care Act
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

How Many of the U.S. Nonelderly Population Have Health Insurance?
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

Exchange Traded Funds Added to CPI Retirement Platform
CPI Qualified Plan Consultants, Inc.


Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Benefits Administrator-Retirement
for Republic Services, Inc.
in AZ

Associate Attorney
for Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
in

Benefits Specialist
for Landmark Aviation
in TX




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