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March 27, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

Account Manager
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia in GA

Retirement Services Education Consultant
for AUL/OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc. in CO

Retirement Plan Education and Communication Specialist
for Molewski Financial Partners in PA

Client Service Associate
for Pacific Rim Financial Group in WA

401(k) Administrator
for Third Party Administrator in ANY STATE

Sr. Manager/Director, Document Management/Technical Communications
for Diversified in NY

Client Relationship Manager
for Alliance Benefit Group of Michigan in MI

Director, Strategy & Planning
for Prudential in CT

Benefits Consultant, Large Groups
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia in GA

ERISA Plan Specialist
for Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group in MA

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Webcasts and Conferences

ERISA Litigation Update Webcast
Nationwide on April 12, 2012 presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

NTSAA Compliance Conference
in Nevada on May 3, 2012 presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

401(k) Service Provider Fee Disclosures: Get Ready for Compliance by July 2012
Nationwide on April 22, 2012 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

"The Top 16 408b-2 and 404a-5 Disclosure Questions and Answers" Web Seminar
Nationwide on April 17, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius

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[Official Guidance]
Transcript of This Morning's Supreme Court Oral Argument in HHS v. Florida (Mar. 27) (PDF)
131 pages. (Supreme Court of the United States)

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[Official Guidance]
Audio Recording of This Morning's Supreme Court Oral Argument in HHS v. Florida (Mar. 27)
Available as a downloadable file or in "streaming" format. (Supreme Court of the United States)

[Guidance Overview]
$1.5 Mil.lion Settlement after HIPAA Security Incident Results in More than $17 Mil.lion in Investigation and Remediation Costs
"This settlement represents a continuing trend of dramatically increased HIPAA enforcement activity with escalating fines, dramatic increases in investigatory and remediation expenses, and parallel enforcement by states. The BlueCross matter is equally significant because it is the first settlement resulting from the notification of a security incident to HHS under its breach-notification rules." (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati)

[Guidance Overview]
Essential Health Benefits Proposal Presents Challenges for Plan Sponsors
"Plan sponsors should monitor future regulations to determine whether further guidance is available on the issue of complying with the rules on annual and lifetime limits for essential benefits. In the meantime, plan sponsors should review which benefits have annual and lifetime dollar limits, and prepare to determine whether they are essential benefits[.]" (Sibson Consulting)

[Guidance Overview]
Agencies Request Comments on Coverage of Contraceptive and Sterilization Coverage for Employees of Nonexempt Religious Organizations
"A 90-day comment period has been provided 'to encourage maximum input into the development of an accommodation.' Once comments have been received, the agencies intend to issue proposed regulations for additional public comment, followed by final regulations that would be effective when the temporary enforcement safe harbor expires (i.e., for plan years beginning on or after August 1, 2013)." (Thomson Reuters/EBIA)

During Oral Argument on Tuesday, Justices Challenge Attorneys for U.S. Over Health Law
"The Supreme Court's five conservative justices challenged the Obama administration's arguments for the health-care law, with Justice Anthony Kennedy saying the government has a 'very heavy burden of justification' for a requirement that people carry health insurance or pay a penalty." (The Wall Street Journal)

Supreme Court Moves to Heart of Health Care Case
"The Supreme Court [confronted] the core of President Barack Obama's healthcare law [today] when it hears arguments on whether Congress had the power to require most people in the United States to buy medical insurance." (Reuters)

ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, March 26, 2012 (PDF)
A splendid update on health care reform legislation, regulations and initiatives. (Mintz Levin)

Health Ruling Hinges on How Justices Frame the Core Issue
"The law’s challengers present the central question as one of individual liberty. May the federal government ... compel individuals not engaged in commerce to buy a product, here health insurance, from private companies? The Obama administration, by contrast, urges the court to answer a different question. May Congress decide, in fashioning a comprehensive response to a national crisis in the health care market, to regulate how people pay for the health care they will almost inevitably need?" (The New York Times; free registration required)

Supreme Court Turns to Key Constitutional Issue in Health Care Law
"The Obama administration has argued that Congress has the authority to impose what it calls the 'minimum coverage provision' under its power to regulate interstate commerce and its authority to solve national economic problems." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Obama Administration to Require Health Care Coverage for Same-S.ex Spouse of Federal Employee
"The Obama administration has directed a health insurance company to cover the same-s.ex spouse of a federal employee. G.ay rights advocates say they believe this is the first time such coverage has been allowed." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Employers Boost Tax Benefits for Same-S.ex Couples
"Ernst & Young is one of about 35 businesses that offer tax benefits to same-s.ex couples, nearly triple the 12 companies that offered it just a year ago.... That's because starting Jan. 1, Ernst & Young became one of a growing number of companies who will compensate les.bian, g.ay, bisexual and transgender employees for a provision in federal tax law that forces them to pay income taxes on health and wellness benefits for same-s.ex partners[.]" (CNN Money)

Health Care Reform Law Has Accelerated Marketplace Change
"Health insurers are increasingly shifting their focus to managing the care of the poor and the elderly through contracts with Medicaid and Medicare, buying physician groups and urgent-care clinics, and offering consulting services to doctors and hospitals." (USA TODAY)

Reading between the Lines of Monday's Supreme Court Arguments
"The argument against the court's role in the case hinges on justices buying the theory that penalties assessed under the law on those who fail to obtain health insurance by 2014 are tantamount to taxes. Unfortunately for Washington lawyer Robert Long, who was making the argument, they appeared not to be buying it. At all." (NPR)

Arguing that Health Mandate Is Not a Tax, Except When It Is
"In defending the law, the Justice Department has taken a legal position — that the health care act constitutes a tax — that contradicts the political stance taken by President Obama. To do that, it has relied on legal semantics to argue that the insurance mandate will be enforced through the tax code even though Congress took pains to label it a penalty and not a tax." (The New York Times; free registration required)

No Matter What Happens to the Health Care Reform Law, American Health Care Is Changing for Good
"HHS has launched a [program] to reward groups of hospitals and doctors — called 'accountable care [organizations]' (ACOs) — for providing good, cheap care to patients on Medicare, the public insurance plan for the old. A variety of measures encourage clinics to co-ordinate services from different doctors and specialists. In October Medicare will begin to reward, with higher payments, hospitals that score well on, say, care for heart-attack patients." (The Economist)

Some Insurers Paying Patients Who Agree To Get Cheaper Care
"Some Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield members in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Indiana can receive $50 to $200 if they get a diagnostic test or elective procedure at a less expensive facility than the one their doctor recommended. The offer covers nearly 40 services, from standard radiology tests such as mammograms and MRIs to such surgical procedures as hip and knee replacements, hernia repair, bariatric surgery and tonsillectomies." (Kaiser Health News)

A Review of the Supreme Court's Hearing on the Health Care Law
"There was a foretaste of arguments that will take place on Wednesday concerning the constitutionality of the mandate on states to cover more people under Medicaid -- those in new categories and those in previously eligible categories who had not applied for benefits but might do so now because of the mandate (even though most would have no income tax liability and hence no possible tax overpayments that could be withheld as a penalty/tax)." (Brookings)

The Link between Market Reforms and the Mandate: What They Are Saying
The page provides quotes from the President, the media, some senators, and a few health care experts. (America's Health Insurance Plans)

The Supreme Court ACA Arguments: Timothy Jost on the Anti-Injunction Act
"The state and private plaintiffs and the federal government would like to have the question of the constitutionality of the minimum coverage requirement settled now, and all contend that [the Anti-Injunction Act] does not apply in this case.... It seems clear from the day’s argument that the Court is not inclined to dismiss the case under the AIA. It is less clear how they will get around it." (Health Affairs Blog)

Slowing the Growth of Health Care Spending (PDF)
"The current sense of crisis ... is largely due to the increasingly compelling evidence that a large fraction of what we spend on health care is wasted on avoidable care and unnecessarily high prices. Studies such as this case report comparing Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Cincinnati help us understand both where the waste can be found and what we can do about it." (Health Care Incentives)

Quick Guide to What You Need to Know to Follow the Health Law Case
"The Supreme Court will hear six hours of arguments over three days about four questions involving the 26-state challenge to Obamacare.... [Former attorney general Ed Meese has called it] 'the most important case to come before the court in 100 years.'" (Galen Institute)

Comments Submitted to EBSA on Proposed Regs Prescribing Filings by MEWAs and Certain Other Related Entities
Target page includes links to the text of comments from various interested parties. (Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Whatever the Court Decides, Health Care Reform Won't Work
"Regardless of whether the Supreme Court upholds or overturns the Affordable Care Act in whole or in part, the unfortunate reality is that federal health law of 2010 will not work: (1) it will not achieve universal coverage, as it leaves at least 26 mil.lion uninsured, (2) it will not make health care affordable to Americans with insurance, because gaps in their policies will leave them vulnerable to bankrup.tcy in the event of major illness, and (3) it will not control costs." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Killing the Mandate Won't Fix Health Care
Tom Daschle says: "Consider what happened in the nine states that attempted to implement health insurance reform in the 1990s without a personal coverage requirement. Two-thirds of these states ... have since repealed these laws because they led to skyrocketing premiums and reduced choice for consumers." (Politico)

Uncle Sam, Please Don't Make Me Eat My Broccoli!
"[I]f the federal government can make everyone buy health insurance at a particular coverage level and type, can it make everyone buy anything? For example, could the federal government require everyone to buy a certain amount of broccoli every year, and assess penalties for a failure to do so? After all, like health insurance, broccoli has the potential to improve health, thereby reducing health care spending and perhaps enhancing economic productivity of the workforce." (The Health Care Blog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Extends Deadlines for Storm Victims in West Virginia
"The IRS has extended return-filing and payment deadlines for victims of severe storms, tornadoes, flooding, mudslides and landslides that started on February 29, 2012, in parts of West Virginia and resulting in the counties of Lincoln, Marion and Wayne being declared a federal disaster area." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business / CCH)

Executive Compensation 2011: The Year in Review (PDF)
"2011 was the first year of mandatory Say-on-Pay [SOP], the non-binding shareholder advisory vote on the compensation of named executive officers as disclosed in the proxy statement, and the frequency of future SOP votes. Other executive compensation developments in 2011 were voting policy changes of certain institutional shareholders and their advisers, dominated by Institutional Shareholder Services ..., related to SOP and other executive compensation-related proxy statement proposals." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Explaining the Lack of Non-Public Actors in the U.S. Public Social Insurance System
"[T]he paradox of the American social insurance system is that while disclaiming any desire for socialist-type programs, most Americans today believe that only the government should be responsible for providing the social insurance safety net.... [M]ost Americans are not yet ready to place their faith in these private actors, even if more efficiency, cost-savings, and activation could be achieved by doing so." (Marquette University Law School)

Mortality Study Points to Increasing Pension and Retiree Health Care Costs
"Traditional pension plan liabilities could rise by 2 to 4% and retiree health care liabilities 6 to 9% under a new mortality improvement scale published for comment by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). The new scale reflects the last two decades' better-than-expected mortality improvement after age 55." (Mercer)

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