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January 30, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

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Webcasts and Conferences

Design and Taxation of Low and No Cost Fringe Benefits: De Minimis, No-Additional-Cost, Transportation, and Other Budget-Friendly Benefits
Nationwide on January 26, 2012 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Workshop with Sal Tripodi
in California on February 16, 2012 presented by National Institute of Pension Administrators - San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

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[Official Guidance]
Text of Proposed DOL Regs Implementing FMLA Statutory Amendments Affecting Veterans and Family Members (PDF)
213 pages. "This Notice . . . proposes regulations to implement amendments to the military leave provisions of the FMLA made by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which extends the availability of FMLA leave to family members of members of the Regular Armed Forces for qualifying exigencies arising out of the servicemember's deployment; defines those deployments covered under these provisions; and extends FMLA military caregiver leave to family members of certain veterans with serious injuries or illnesses." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Self-Funding and Alternative Models for Health Benefit Financing   [Advert.]

Sponsored by World Congress

As employers struggle with increasing health care costs, rising premiums and instability in the market, explore creative approaches to financing benefits that deliver new opportunities to drive real savings. February 7-9, Washington, DC

[Guidance Overview]
DOL Announces Proposed Regs Implementing Statutory Amendments to FMLA
"The proposed language would extend the entitlement of military caregiver leave to family members of veterans for up to five years after leaving the military. At this time, the law only covers family members of 'currently serving' service members. Additionally, the proposal expands the military family leave provisions of the FMLA by extending qualifying exigency leave to employees whose family members serve in the regular armed forces. Currently, the law only covers families of National Guard members and reservists." (U.S. Department of Labor)

[Guidance Overview]
Regs Provide Details on Proposed Application of FMLA to Veterans and Family Members
"Highlights of the proposed rule include: the extension of military caregiver leave to eligible family members of recent veterans with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty; a flexible, three-part definition for serious injury or illness of a veteran; the extension of military caregiver leave to cover serious injuries or illnesses for both current servicemembers and veterans that result from the aggravation during military service of a preexisting condition . . . ." (SmartHR)

[Guidance Overview]
Michigan Law Imposes Assessments on Health Claims Paid under Employer-Sponsored Plans
"Last September, Michigan enacted a law that imposes upon certain entities an assessment equal to 1% of their total paid claims under an ERISA group health plan, up to a cap of $10,000 per individual, effective for dates of service on or after January 1, 2012." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

[Guidance Overview]
Practitioners' Forum Discussion: Evans v. Sterling Chemicals, Inc.
"In Sterling, the Fifth Circuit held that an asset purchase agreement that included a provision in which the purchaser committed to providing post-retirement medical and life insurance coverage to acquired employees at the same levels provided under the seller's plans constituted an amendment to the purchaser's employee welfare plans." (Compensation Planning Journal via The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.)

[Guidance Overview]
No Extended COBRA Coverage for Disabled Employee Terminated after Reduction of Hours
"As for the employee's argument that a disability extension could be based on an insurer's determination, other courts have held that a plain reading of the statute requires the determination to be made by the SSA. The statutory language requiring a qualified beneficiary to be determined to be disabled 'under title II or XVI of the Social Security Act' seems less than clear on that point, but DOL regulations specifically require a qualified beneficiary to notify the plan administrator that he or she has been determined by the SSA to be disabled." (Thomson Reuters/EBIA)

A Four-Part Prescription for Managing the Cost of Pharmacy Benefits
"This Newsletter discusses four emerging strategies for managing the cost of prescription drug coverage, one of which also aims to enhance the value of the coverage to participants: Review retail pharmacy networks, Maximize the utilization and cost effectiveness of generic drugs, Combat direct-to-consumer 'couponing' by brand-name drug manufacturers, and Improve drug-therapy adherence through plan design and the promotion of personal contact between participants and their pharmacists." (The Segal Group, Inc.)

Establishing and Administering an OPEB Trust
"The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends creating a qualified trust fund to prefund OPEB obligations. To ensure that the trust is established and administered properly, governments should consult qualified legal counsel and fully understand the following issues . . . ." (Government Finance Officer's Association)

Tracking Employment-Based Health Benefits in Changing Times
"Most Americans obtain their health care coverage through an employment-related plan. The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides measures of access, participation, and features for those plans This article discusses some of the issues that the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will present for the NCS." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

HIPAA Audits Come with Short Turnaround Times
"[HHS] has begun a pilot program of HIPAA privacy and security audits for health care providers and health plans, and the audits will have some very short turnaround times." (The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.)

Electronic Health Records Still Need Work
"America may be a technology-driven nation, but the health care system's conversion from paper to computerized records needs lots of work to get the bugs out, according to experts who spent months studying the issue." (BenefitsPro)

When Health Plans Go High Deductible
"The goal is to give consumers more incentives to not spend on the care they don't need, but these plans often raise concerns that subscribers will cut back on the care that they do need, too. A new study from a team of Harvard researchers explores how health insurance plans with high deductible effect the care that families do, and don't, seek." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Judge Says Same-S.ex Health-Coverage Ban Biased
"A federal judge signaled Thursday that she's likely to strike down a federal law that denies long-term health coverage to the same-s.ex domestic partners of state employees in California, saying it appears to be based on prejudice against gays and lesbians." (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Device Makers Urge Coverage of Weight-Loss Surgery
"Advocates say it will give obese patients a complete arsenal for fighting the condition that can spur a host of life-threatening illnesses and help save billions of dollars in health care costs for employers and the government." (Reuters via Employee Benefit News)

Early Induced Pregnancies Are Costing Your Health Plan
"That's not to say that some babies don't need to be induced before full term (40 weeks) because of medical reasons, but a growing trend shows that hospitals are electing this option because of revenue and doctors' schedules or because moms simply want to schedule their births." (Employee Benefit News)

Medical Debts Put Patients at Risk of Financial Collapse
"[Millions of Americans don't have the cash to cover their medical bills, but h]ospitals expect to be paid promptly and offer little leeway to insured patients. Unpaid bills go to collection agencies, damaging a person's credit history for years." (The Republic)

Supreme Court Weighs Sick Leave for State Workers
"In many industrialized countries around the world, taking time off from work to deal with a medical issue isn't just a benefit; it's considered an entitlement, as much as an eight-hour day. But in the world's richest nation, a worker who claims that right has had to appeal to the highest court in the land. So the Supreme Court will now weigh the rights of public employees to seek justice under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)." (, Inc.)

American Benefits Council Files Amicus Brief on Severability Issue in U.S. Supreme Court Health Care Reform Case
"'If the Supreme Court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, then the "shared responsibility" provision of the law requiring employers to offer health coverage that satisfies the individual mandate should also be struck down,' according to an amicus (friend of the court) brief filed today by the American Benefits Council." (American Benefits Council)

American Academy of Actuaries Files Amicus Brief on Severability Issue in U.S. Supreme Court Health Care Reform Case
"The Academy's brief provides actuarial input to the court on the consequences of severing the mandate — should it be invalidated by the court — and allowing the market reforms to remain in effect." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Text of American Academy of Actuaries Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Health Care Reform Case (PDF)
The brief supports respondents on the severability issue. 'Argument: Should the Court invalidate the individual mandate provision of the Act, it should also invalidate the guaranteed-issue and community rating provisions." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Significant Compensation and Benefit Due Dates for 2012 (PDF)
"This Compliance Calendar assumes a plan administered on a calendar year basis by an employer with a calendar fiscal year." (Aon Hewitt)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS's 2012 Maximums for Valuing an Employer-Provided Vehicle's Personal Use
"If a company car is used for commuting or other personal uses that are more than de minimis, the employee will recognize income on the value of the personal use. That value may be determined using a general valuation rule or one of three special valuation rules: the automobile annual lease valuation rule, the cents-per-mile rule, or the commuting valuation rule." (Thomson Reuters/EBIA)

Legislative Background of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions, 2011-2022
"The legislative background provided for each expiring provision includes: A brief description of the provision, The public law in which the provision was originally enacted with the original expiration date, A brief description of substantial modifications to the provision, if any, and The public law in which the provision was most recently extended, if any, with the current expiration date." (U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation)

The State of Broad-Based Employee Ownership Plans 2012
This report details the extent and growth of employee ownership through ESOPs, 401(k) plans, stock options, ESPPs, and other vehicles; summarizes the leading research on employee ownership and corporate performance; and discusses current challenges and prospects. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

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Holly Horton, Business Manager

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