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January 6, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

Benefit Services Specialist
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia in GA

401k Plan/Asset Management Sales
for Premier National Provider in ANY STATE, CA, DC, IL, IN, MD, MI, NJ, OR, PA, TX

Plan Administrator
for Blue Ridge ESOP Associates in ANY STATE

DC Plan Administrator
for TPA Firm in Maryland in MD

Senior Investment Analyst
for Cammack LaRhette Consulting in NY

Account Manager, Retirement Plans
for Cammack LaRhette Consulting in NY

Senior Editor for EBIA Products
for Thomson Reuters (EBIA) in ANY STATE, WA

Pension Compliance Manager
for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) in VA

Account Manager - Deconversion
for MassMutual Financial Group in MA

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Webcasts and Conferences

"1099-R: An Ongoing Challenge" Web Seminar
Nationwide on January 13, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius

"ADP/ACP Testing Techniques 2012" - A 2-part Web Seminar
Nationwide on February 1, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius

"Earned Income: Computing Compensation for the Self-Employed" Web Seminar
Nationwide on January 24, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius

"ERPA Test Review Part II" Web Seminar, A 3-part program
Nationwide on January 9, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius

We also publish the BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter (free): Subscribe

[Official Guidance]
Interim Final HHS Regs: Standards for Health Care Electronic Funds Transfers and Remittance Advice (PDF)
"This interim final rule with comment period implements parts of section 1104 of the Affordable Care Act which requires the adoption of a standard for electronic funds transfers (EFT). It defines EFT and explains how the adopted standards support and facilitate health care EFT transmissions. . . . These regulations are effective on [the date of publication in the Federal Register, expected to be January 10, 2012]." (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)

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[Official Guidance]
Affordable Care Act Provision Cuts Red Tape, Saves Up to $4.5 Bil.lion
"New standards for electronic funds transfers in health care, required by the Affordable Care Act, will reduce up to $4.5 bil.lion off administrative costs for doctors and hospitals, private health plans, states, and other government health plans, over the next ten years, according to estimates included in new rules published today by [HHS]." (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)

[Guidance Overview]
Federal Court Holds Plaintiff's Recovery of Medical Expenses Paid by ERISA Plan Are Recoverable
"The Defendants filed affirmative defenses including claims that the Plaintiffs' recovery was reduced or barred by the provisions of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL). The Plaintiffs argued that the defenses should be stricken since the medical bills were paid by a self funded ERISA plan which was making a claim for reimbursement. The Plaintiffs filed a Motion in Limine." (InjuryBoard)

[Guidance Overview]
Guidance on W-2 Reporting for Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage
"The purpose of the reporting requirement is to provide employees with comparable consumer information on the cost of their health care coverage. However, the reporting requirement does not mean that the amounts reported are taxable." (Practical Law Company)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Guidance on Form W-2 Reporting of Group Health Plan Coverage (PDF)
"The Notice will apply until further guidance is issued. Many of the new rules are characterized as 'transitional relief' and the Notice states that these rules may change in future guidance. However, as with Notice 2011-28, any future guidance will be prospective only and will not be applicable earlier than January 1 of the calendar year beginning at least 6 months after the guidance is issued." (Groom Law Group)

Workplaces Ban Not Only Smoking, but Smokers Themselves
"As bans on smoking sweep the USA, an increasing number of employers — primarily hospitals — are also imposing bans on smokers. They won't hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use, whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches." (USA TODAY)

Breast-Feeding at Work Now Protected by Law
"The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March 2010, amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, and for the first time employers are now federally mandated to provide women with breaks and a place to breastfeed. The final rules regarding the law have not been finalized, but that hasn't stopped the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour division's enforcers from going after employers who don't make accommodations for working moms who want to pump." (

How Does Growth in Health Care Costs Affect the American Family?
"Health care costs nearly doubled between 1999 and 2009, which left the average 2009 family with only $95 more per month than in 1999. If costs had matched the consumer price index's rise, the average family would have an additional $450 per month." (RAND)

Value-Based Benefit Design Programs Are Growing, but Still Rare in Small-Group Market
"A few large, self-insured employers such as Pitney Bowes, Inc. have successfully used value-based benefit designs (VBD) to reduce coverage costs and improve employee health. Although health insurers are focusing greater attention on value-based design plans, few of them have made VBD plans available to small employers. One San Francisco-based health plan, however, says small employers are hungry for such product designs." (Atlantic Information Services, Inc.)

Texas Food Retailer to Launch Healthy-Eating Initiative Sourced from Employee Wellness Program
"To make ingredients for healthy recipes less expensive, H-E-B has created a 'Healthy Savings' meal program, which will offer 'bundles' of fresh ingredients plus recipes for a healthy meal that will feed four people for less than $10." (The Brownsville Herald)

Collaboration Reduces Costs of Health Care
"Experts say employers, hospitals, physicians and health plans are willing to work together because cost and quality problems have reached crisis levels. The goal is to cut spending that's wasteful and doesn't help patients. Sometimes there's an implicit threat that if a provider or health plan doesn't participate, the employer will buy health care elsewhere." (USA TODAY)

The Proposed MEWA Rules: Cracking Down on Health Insurance Scams
"With little fanfare and little attention from the media, the Obama Administration recently issued proposed rules to crackdown on health insurance scams that use ERISA to avoid state law enforcement and regulatory actions." (Health Affairs)

Evaluating Bundled Payment Contracting
"This healthcare reform briefing paper provides an overview of bundled payments and discusses recent developments, as well as an analysis of considerations in contracting for bundled payments." (Milliman, Inc.)

The Third Burning of Washington: Uncivil Health Care Wars Continue
"[T]he third branch of our democracy, the judiciary, may be about to take its lumps alongside the other two, as the Supreme Court takes up a case that is at the core of much of the breakdown of comity among the working parts of our federal government that has exacerbated the low esteem in which the government is presently held by the public. . . . [T]he impending health care review by the Court could actually carry much more potential threat to the Court's authority than Gore versus Bush . . . ." (Alvin D. Lurie, Esq. on

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
2012 Payroll Tax Rates and Limits (PDF)
"The maximum [Social Security Employee] withholding for the period January 1, 2012, to February 29, 2012, is $770.70 (calculated at 4.2% of maximum wage base). The maximum withholding for the period March 1, 2012, to December 31, 2012, if the payroll tax holiday is not extended, is $5,688.50 (calculated at 6.2% of maximum wage base). The sum of $770.70 and $5,688.50 is $6,459.20." (Lindquist LLP)

The ERISA Bond: Summary of Some of the Key Bonding Requirements
"The bonding requirement applies to most employee benefit plans under ERISA, including: tax-qualified retirement plans; group medical, dental, and prescription drug plans; and flexible spending arrangements (FSAs). You should think about the ERISA bonding requirements any time that you or one of your employees or agents is handling employee money or plan assets." (McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP)

How Many TPAs Are There? Explanation and Legal Liability Factors
"Based on the various statistics & reports and occasional access to raw survey data and market terminology, my best estimate based on cross-referencing relevant parts of the various data, is that 52-55% of all US covered workers in non-federal-government plans are in plans administered to some degree by a TPA entity." (Society of Professional Benefit Administrators)

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