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October 31, 2012          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Webcasts and Conferences

Health Care Reform Fees for Employers and Insurers: Understanding PCOR, Reinsurance, and Health Insurer Fees
Nationwide on October 30, 2012 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Women in Retirement: Managing Longevity Webcast
Nationwide on November 20, 2012 presented by InvestmentNews

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Federal Judge Upholds Milwaukee County's Partial Shift of Health Costs to Retirees
"Milwaukee County's move to charge its retirees for some health care costs -- a change made in 2012 that shifted millions of dollars in costs from taxpayers to retirees as well as active employees -- was upheld in federal court Tuesday.... '[B]ecause there is insufficient evidence that the county was legally obligated to provide cost-free as opposed to premium-free health insurance to [the plaintiff retiree], the court is unable to grant her relief," [the] ruling says." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)


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Dallas County Commissioners Approve Health Care Stipend for Gay Domestic Partners
"[T]he move ... is estimated to cost taxpayers $100,000 a year ... The policy caps the stipend at the amount the county would pay for a married employee's spouse. It is not available for employees whose partners have access to health care coverage through their own employer. Employees must sign an affidavit that defines the relationship as a domestic partnership and prove that they and their partner have lived and operated a household together for at least six months." (The Dallas Morning News)

Is Covering Alternative Medicine Techniques and Therapies the Right Course?
"A tug of war between conventional medicine and [complimentary and alternative, or "CAM"] medicine -- much of which is aimed at preventing or treating illness and injury without drugs or invasive approaches -- has been going on for decades. While CAM continues to grow in popularity among individuals, the corporate mainstream remains committed to covering only what's been proven by evidence obtained through large, multiple, and rigorous clinical trials." (CFO)

Will Employers Flock to ACA Health Insurance Exchanges?
"For now, at least, large and midsize employers may be more interested in increasing the use of health account programs than getting health insurance for active employees from exchanges.... [O]nly 13 percent of the [surveyed] employers said they thought they would be getting health benefits for active employees through the ACA exchanges or private exchanges by 2016, and only 11 percent thought they would be getting health benefits for retirees from the exchanges." (Treasury & Risk)

Using Canada's Health System as Model Might Cut Health Care Costs in U.S.
"Since 1980, health care costs in the United States could have been about $2.15 trillion less if Canadian cost-saving measures had been used, according to a new study. Over the same period, health care spending in the United States grew nearly three times faster than in Canada's Medicare program, even though Canadian law bans co-payments and deductibles[.]" (Physicians for a National Health Program)


Health Plan Notices Checklist Includes Downloadable Model Notices

HR360's free 'Health Plan Notices Checklist' features a convenient summary of key requirements AND downloadable model notices in one convenient tool. Our free checklist includes key notices such as Health Care Reform, COBRA and HIPAA.

Employees Not Feeling Confident About Health Benefits Elections This Open Enrollment Period
"Just 56 percent of employees are highly confident they will select the right employee benefits during the annual benefits enrollment period in 2013, according to recent research from MetLife. The MetLife Benefits Election Poll also found that one in five workers who had the opportunity to participate in a benefits enrollment last year failed to act and defaulted to either the prior year's choices or their employer's default choices. Men (24 percent) were twice as likely as women (12 percent) to fail to actively enroll." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)


What Canada Can Teach Our Country About Fixing Medicare
"Back in 1980, Medicare spent an average of $1,215 on each beneficiary. In Canada, that number stood at $2,141. The difference largely had to do with the level of benefits: Canadian health insurance covers about 80 percent of seniors' medical costs, whereas Medicare covers about half. (More than 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will spend all assets on out-of-pocket costs during the last five years of life, according to one study.) Since then, United States per capita spending has grown three times as quickly as it has in Canada." (Physicians for a National Health Program)


The Avalanche of Obamacare Rules Continues: More Coming in 2013
"Government re-engineering of the private marketplace is a complex task. So far, more than 13,000 pages of federal ObamaCare regulations have been issued, but employers, states, and health companies say they need much more. One recent rule took 18 pages to define a 'full time employee.'" (Galen Institute)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Proposed Changes to ISS Proxy Voting Policies
This article describes current policy and proposed changes, and identifies areas on which ISS is specifically requesting comment. Excerpt: "On October 16, 2012, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) issued for comment several proposed proxy voting policy changes." (Benefits Bryan Cave)

ISS Issues 2013 Draft Policies for Comment
"ISS is proposing the following changes: Recommend a vote 'against' or 'withhold' from the entire board if the board failed to act on a shareholder proposal that received the support of a majority of shares cast (rather than outstanding) in the previous year. Use a company's selected peers with size constraints as an input to its peer group methodology Incorporate a comparison of realizable pay to grant date pay as part of the qualitative evaluation of pay-for-performance alignment." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

When Disaster Strikes: Pay, Leave and Related Issues
"When a hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire or other emergency occur, numerous employment laws are implicated, including ... Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)... Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).... ERISA and COBRA." [Ed. note: the article includes an extensive list and a discussion of other employment-related legal implications.] (Society for Human Resource Management)

Employment Cost Index for September 2012
"Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending September 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported [on October 31, 2012]. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation costs) increased 0.3 percent, and benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) increased 0.8 percent.... Benefit costs [for civilian workers] increased 2.6 percent for the 12-month period ending September 2012 down from the September 2011 increase, which was 3.2 percent." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Sixth Circuit Finds ERISA Section 510 Does Not Protect Unsolicited Internal Complaint (PDF)
"The question in this case is whether [ERISA section] 510 extends its protections to an employee's unsolicited, internal complaint to his employer that it has violated ERISA.... The Sixth Circuit has not yet had occasion to address the issue..... [T]he Court concludes that in this case Section 510 does not protect the plaintiff's unsolicited, internal complaint -- an email to his employer threatening to report its ERISA violations to state and federal authorities -- because it was unconnected to any 'inquiry or proceeding'.... A fuller explanation is that 'an employee's grievance is within Section 510's scope whether or not the employer solicited information,' provided that the employee himself solicited information. Without the asking for information, there is no 'inquiry'." [Sexton v. Panel Processing, Inc., No. 12-10946 (6th Cir., Oct. 30, 2012)] (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit)

Silicon Valley Employers Provide Lavish Perks for Employees
"Say 'employee benefits' and pensions and health care will jump to most people's minds. Maybe life and disability insurance will pop up as well. But employers in Silicon Valley are going way beyond that. They're providing housekeeping, cooking, babysitting and a host of other services as perks for their employees." (Forbes)

District Court Clarifies When Remand to the Plan Fiduciary is Appropriate
"The Court declined to order a remand, focusing on the limit of its scope of review: The Court reviews the claims administrator's decision based upon the information it had at the time. Accordingly, the Court must review the fiduciary's decision before making any decision to remand. Implicit in the Court's holding was the recognition that, if the claims administrator abused its discretion, a remand may be warranted, but if the claims administrator did not abuse its discretion, based upon the information it had at the time, its decision can be upheld, and a claimant cannot force the re-opening for further information to be considered." [Hooks v. Hartford Life and Accident Ins. Co., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150536 (M.D. Ala. October 18, 2012)] (Wombyle Carlyle)

Hodgson Russ Employee Benefits Developments, October 2012 (PDF)
Articles include: Guidance Provided on Geographic Diversification and Single Property Transactions; Final Regulations Issued on Use of Corporate Aircraft for Entertainment; Multiemployer Pension Plan's Critical Status Does Not Preclude Employer Withdrawal; Retirees Are Not Entitled to Lifetime Benefits; and Liquidated Damages Due on Accelerated Withdrawal Liability. (Hodgson Russ LLP)


Most of National Education Association's Largest Affiliates Are Awash in Red Ink
"An Education Intelligence Agency analysis of 2010-11 Internal Revenue Service filings reveals as many as eight of the National Education Association's 11 largest state affiliates do not have the financial assets to match their liabilities and total almost $400 million in combined debt. The lion's share of the union's debt comes from employee pension and post-retirement health care liabilities." (Education Intelligence Agency)

Press Releases

ASPPA Gets Ready to Save 401(k)s from Tax Reform
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

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