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December 20, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Medical Loss Ratio Interim Final Rule Released
Excerpt: "Insurance companies must submit a report to HHS for each state in which the company is licensed to issue coverage that includes the experience of all policies issued during the MLR reporting year (i.e., calendar year.) The report will aggregate data separately for the large group policies, small group policies and individual policies at the state level."
(Ford & Harrison LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Issues New Guidance on Preparation of Consumer Reports Required Under New Health Care Transparency Law
Excerpt: "The legislation commonly known as Wisconsin's 'Health Care Transparency' law (HCT law), 2009 Wisconsin Act 146, was enacted on March 9, 2009, and becomes effective January 1, 2011. It generally requires many health care providers, hospitals and insurers to provide greater transparency to consumers with regard to charges and reimbursement."
(Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Court Finds Individual Insurance Mandate of PPACA Unconstitutional (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "Under section 1501 of PPACA, Congressional authority to enforce the individual mandate is predicated on findings that mandatory health coverage is 'commercial and economic in nature' and 'substantially affects interstate commerce.' The 'Cuccinelli' ruling represents the first successful challenge to this Congressional authority, and the decision may have a significant impact on provisions in the law relating to employer-sponsored health plans."
(Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

Companies Are Providing Care Services at the Workplace
Excerpt: "These new work-place clinics are incarnations of the occupational clinics that were a common fixture on plant grounds that were often plagued with work-site injuries. The expanded model includes broader services like primary and specialty care, pharmacy service, blood draws, X-rays, and physical therapy. Employers hope these clinics will produce behavioral lifestyle changes which factor into an employee's every-day life."
(FOX News Network, LLC)

Some Companies Repositioning Their EAP Programs, Using Them to Better Support Wellness Efforts and to Offset Mental Health Treatment Costs
Excerpt: "To maximize their EAP investment, some employers have taken steps to better promote their programs, along with boosting the number of annual sessions covered from the once typical three to as many as six, and sometimes even more at some companies . . . ."
(Workplace Management: free registration required)

Employers Scramble for Answers on Dealing with Worker Stress and Fatigue
Excerpt: "In a recent study, 81 percent of human resources managers agreed that employee fatigue is a bigger problem than in years past. According to a Workforce Management and WorkForce Software survey of 820 U.S. companies, the major culprits are reduced head count, lack of boundaries between home life and work, second jobs and a culture of 'wanting to do it all.'"
(Workplace Management: free registration required)

Cost-Sharing: Effects on Health Spending and Outcomes
Excerpt: "This synthesis examines how cost-sharing affects the use of services, whether some patients are more sensitive to cost-sharing than others, and whether reduced use of services as a result of cost-sharing has an effect on health outcomes. All of these issues factor into whether and how cost-sharing could be used to reduce the rate of growth of health care spending."
(Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

New Rules for Mini-Med Plans Limit Their Sale, Require Insurers Notify Consumers of Low Annual Coverage Limits
Excerpt: "Mini-med plan insurers also must direct consumers to http://www.HealthCare.gov where they can get more information about other coverage options."
(Wolters Kluwer)

House Extends Health Insurance Subsidies for Some Laid-Off Workers
Excerpt: "The House on Wednesday approved legislation that would give an 18-month extension to a federal law that provides rich health insurance premium subsidies to workers who lose their jobs due to foreign competition and older participants in failed pension plans."
(Business Insurance)

The Supreme Court and Obama's Health Care Law
Excerpt: "[T]he votes of the Supreme Court are not that easy to divine, and while political considerations can creep into any judge's views, deeper factors are at play, said Mark Tushnet, a professor at Harvard Law School. Supreme Court justices, for the most part, 'are attuned to their reputations as individuals in history, and their overall place in the government as a whole,' he said."
(The New York Times; one-time registration required)




Sessions by: Whirlpool, Office Depot, State of Missouri, INTEL, Time Warner, Inc., CDC (DHHS), St. Louis Co., Manatee Schools, City of Clearwater, Univ of Michigan, Mayo Clinic, Pinellas Co., St.Johns Schools, Quad Graphics/Quad Med, Athens-Clarke Co., City of Sarasota, Univ. of Iowa, Natíl Business Group on Health, Ironworkers Funds, Univ. of South Florida, Workers Comp Research Institute, Univ. of Minnesota, NCH Healthcare System, Update on Health Reform...and more sessions. Best Value in Health Benefits Continuing Education (HBCE) - highest quality and modest registration: $275 - $345. SHRM and other CE credits. www.HBCE.com Phone 941-484-1430 or Email: info@HBCE.com

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Temporary Payroll and Benefit Relief Under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The Act extends various tax benefits that were to expire. For example, (i) An adoption credit under EGTRRA is extended through 2012; (ii) Child care credit is extended for 2011 and 2012; (iii) EGTRRA employer provided education assistance exclusion is extended through 2011 and 2012; (iv) Coverdell Educational IRAs continue the EGTRRA $2000 maximum and the availability of for elementary and secondary school expenses through 2011 and 2012; (v) Tax-free distributions from IRAs for charity are extended through 2011."
(Charles C. Shulman, Esq.)

Obama Signs Bill Extending Benefits Tax Breaks
Excerpt: "[The tax-favored status of several employer-provided benefits was passed: 1. allowing] employers to reimburse employees for up to $5,250 in annual undergraduate and graduate educational costs without the reimbursement being included in employees' taxable income . . . . [2. E]mployers are eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 25% of expenses for developing and operating child care centers as well as a tax credit of 10% on expenses for child care and referral services. [3. allowing] employers to provide tax-free reimbursement to employees of about $13,000 of adoption-related expenses[; and, allowing] employees to reduce their salaries and make pretax contributions of up to $230 a month to pay for mass transit expenses."
(Business Insurance)

Top 100 Employment Law Blogs
Excerpt: "[This year's list only includes] blogs written by lawyers, legal professionals, or from a legal perspective. Non-lawyer consultants account for less than 10 of the blogs on this year's list and each of those write consistently on legal issues."
(The Delaware Employment Law Blog)

Federal Work-Life Programs Require Additional OPM Guidance
Excerpt: "The Office of Personnel Management is missing opportunities to help federal agencies develop, implement and improve work-life programs, according to the Government Accountability Office."
(National Journal Group, Inc.)

[Opinion]
What Does Tax Cut Deal Mean for Medicare, Social Security and Health Care Reform?
Excerpt: "The larger the deficit, the more compelling the conservative case for shrinking entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Health Care reform in 2012."
(The Century Foundation)


Webcasts and Conferences

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Atlanta
in Georgia on January 21, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Charlotte
in North Carolina on January 20, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Houston
in Texas on January 20, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Kansas City
in Kansas on January 21, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

401(k) Rekon Advisor Symposium- Boca Raton
in Florida on January 27, 2011
presented by 401(k) Rekon

401(k) Rekon Advisor Symposium- Larchmont, NY
in New York on January 27, 2011
presented by 401(k) Rekon

Fiduciary Issues for Internal ESOP Trustees
in Georgia on June 14, 2011
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership


Press Releases


Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Manager of Benefit Operations
for Arnold & Porter LLP
in DC

Pension Plan Administrator
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL




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