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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

December 28, 2012          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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[Guidance Overview]

Final Regs Issued on Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund Fees
"Although the fee applies to insured and self-insured plans, because the insurance issuer is responsible for paying the fee on insured plans, this post focuses on the fee as applied to self-insured employer-sponsored health plans.... The plan sponsor pays the fee. In general, the plan sponsor is: (1) for a single-employer self-insured plan, the employer, (2) for a MEWA, the plan committee, (3) for a VEBA (other than a VEBA that is the funding vehicle for an employer-sponsored plan), the trustee." (Benefits Bryan Cave)


Agenda Debut: Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

Sponsored by Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

While other events focus on the administrative & legal aspects, we bring you thought leaders & senior execs at major employers to inspire & give you real solutions to enhance your overall HR strategy. April 22-24. Aria, Las Vegas. BenefitsConf.com

[Guidance Overview]

New PCORI Fee Impacts Employers and Health Insurers
"The PCORI Fee generally will apply to major medical benefits. Many other benefits -- such as dental plans, vision plans and health flexible spending arrangements (Health FSAs) -- will often be 'excepted benefits' and therefore usually not subject to the PCORI Fee ... [A] chart discusses how the PCORI Fee applies to various benefits that may be offered by an employer. [This article includes a test for identifying 'excepted benefits' as well as] an important 'non-duplication' rule, which can reduce the Fee owed by an employer." (Quarles & Brady LLP)

[Guidance Overview]

Employers, Insurers Face New 'Reinsurance' Fee of $63 Per Covered Life in Health Plans
"By November 15, 2014, plan sponsors of a self-funded plan will submit plan enrollment information to HHS. The information will describe the average number of covered lives for the 2014 benefit year. Generally within 15 days of that submission, HHS will notify the employer of the amount which must be paid as a Reinsurance Fee." (Quarles & Brady LLP)


Federal Healthcare Exchange May Create Privacy Nightmare
"In order to determine eligibility for health insurance subsidies, the new [federal] exchange has to bring together information about you and your family from the Treasury Department and IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, as well as your Social Security number -- all coordinated by the Department of Health and Human Services.... The data gathering is sensible, in the abstract. Similar information is collected when you apply for a mortgage. But when the constantly updated information is combined in a central data hub, the potential for abuse is staggering. For one thing, the hub will have all the details needed to steal identities and fraudulently access credit." (USA TODAY)

Healthcare Provider Consolidation Leads to Increased Prices
"Research has shown that the trend toward consolidation is increasing. In 2000, one in 20 specialists was employed by a hospital, whereas in 2012, one in four specialists is a hospital employee." (America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP))


Executive Forum on Rewarding Healthy Behaviors - January 30-31, 2013 - San Diego

Sponsored by World Congress

The pre-eminent event for innovative workplace wellness and preventive health management initiatives designed to promote health behavior change within health insured populations. Evidence-based success strategies to contain healthcare costs.

Hobby Lobby Faces Millions in Fines for Bucking Obamacare
"Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the [ACA] ... After failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby announced ... through its attorneys that it 'will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.'" (CNN Belief Blog)

Health Care Law May Help Baby Boomers
"Since the recession, Boomers have been hard hit by unemployment, shrinking nest eggs and rising health care costs. During those years, about 8.6 million Boomers were without health insurance, according to a special 2009 report by Commonwealth Fund. As the Boomer generation approaches retirement, many hope that the health care law will fill the void.... [I]f early retirees can wait until the ACA takes effect, it will change the playing field[.]" (USA TODAY)

Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate Fights Desperation Among the Insured
"Connecticut was one of the first states to establish such an agency, a response to the numerous complaints lawmakers were receiving at that time from constituents about their managed care plans. It has since assisted thousands of consumers in enrolling in health insurance plans and in settling health insurance disputes. Congress liked what Connecticut was doing, enough to encourage other states to follow suit. A provision of the Affordable Care Act offers grant money for states to either strengthen existing healthcare advocacy programs or to begin them." (Kaiser Health News)

U.S. Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits: Status, Financial Outlook and Alternative Approaches for Funding
"The Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund ... covered about 49 percent of the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) $94 billion retiree health benefit liability at fiscal year-end 2012. USPS's deteriorating financial outlook, however, will make it difficult to continue the current prefunding schedule in the short term, and possibly to fully fund the remaining $48 billion unfunded liability over the remaining 44 years of the schedule on which the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was based.... GAO's analysis of maintaining current law requirements compared to five alternative approaches showed differing impacts on USPS's future annual payments and unfunded liabilities." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

What 'Health Care Costs' Really Means
"The reason we should be worried about our rising national health care bill is that health care spending is going up faster than the rest of the economy. At current rates, the Congressional Budget Office estimates we'll be devoting pretty much the entire federal budget and about 50 percent of GDP to health care by 2080. When you think about the federal debt, think health care. Of course, part of the reason health care spending is going up so fast is prices for everything from health care labor to drugs to CT scanners are skyrocketing. But the more worrisome reason for rising spending is the quantity of high technology specialty services we undergo." (The Atlantic)

Text of U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Denying Contraceptive Mandate Injunction to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (PDF)
"Applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek. First, whatever the ultimate merits of the applicants' claims, their entitlement to relief is not 'indisputably clear'.... Second, while the applicants allege they will face irreparable harm if they are forced to choose between complying with the contraception-coverage requirement and paying significant fines, they cannot show that an injunction is necessary or appropriate to aid our jurisdiction. Even without an injunction pending appeal, the applicants may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts." (Supreme Court of the United States)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Hodgson Russ Employee Benefits Developments, December 2012
Articles include: New Proposed Regulation Relating to Wellness Programs; District Court Rejects Private Equity Fund Liability for Multiemployer Plan Withdrawal; Actual Receipt of COBRA Notice Not Required; and Plan Cannot Exclude COLA From Lump Sum Payouts of Accrued Benefits. (Hodgson Russ LLP)

Cypen & Cypen Newsletter for December 27, 2012
Covers employee benefit developments with an emphasis on governmental plans. Topics in this issue include: San Bernardino Bondholders Play Hardball With CalPERS; CalPERS Statement on U.S. Bankruptcy Proceedings in San Bernardino; Will 401(K) Plans Keep Getting Worse? Omission of Reference in SPD Does Not Create Inconsistency With Terms of Pension Plan; Public Pension Plans Consider Shooting Down Gun Investments; and Okay To Eliminate American Airlines Lump-sum Pension Payout. (Cypen & Cypen)

DOL Regulatory Agenda Released
The U.S. Department of Labor has published the Fall 2012 issue of its regulatory agenda, which lists the regulations under active consideration for publication, proposal or review during the next 12 months. (Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Press Releases

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