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January 2, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Valuation Actuary [Part time]
for Dallas Actuaries, Inc. in ANY STATE, TX

Pension Administrator
for Alliance Pension Consultants, LLC in IL

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Webcasts and Conferences

RITA Conference - Spring 2013
in District of Columbia on March 20, 2013 presented by Retirement Industry Trust Association (RITA)

Rehires, including HEART and USERRA
Nationwide on January 23, 2013 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

"Plan Corrections: When Good Plans Go Bad" - Minneapolis
in Minnesota on January 23, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Corrections: When Good Plans Go Bad" - Philadelphia
in Pennsylvania on January 23, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Corrections: When Good Plans Go Bad" - Des Moines
in Iowa on January 24, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Corrections: When Good Plans Go Bad" - Detroit
in Michigan on January 24, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Corrections: When Good Plans Go Bad" - Syracuse
in New York on January 24, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Corrections: When Good Plans Go Bad" - Boston
in Massachusetts on January 25, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Corrections: When Good Plans Go Bad" - Cincinnati
in Ohio on January 25, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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[Official Guidance]

On HHS Web Site: Timeline of Effective Dates of ACA Provisions
The linked page, on a government web site managed by HHS, provides a timeline of when provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect. Includes links to additional information for consumers. View items by selecting blocks on the timeline or click the arrows. (Healthcare.gov)


New & Innovative. A Conference Developed Just for You!

Sponsored by Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

Hear what's working for major employers: AmEx, Big Lots, Carlson, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Comcast, H-E-B, Ingersoll Rand, Intel, Leviton, Microsoft, Vanguard & Walgreens. April 22-24. Aria, Las Vegas. Register today for the best rate. BenefitsConf.com

[Guidance Overview]

Some Surprises in Proposed IRS Regs on Calculation and Determination of Employer Penalty ACA Provisions
"The proposed regulations are lengthy, but include a number of interesting surprises, including the following: [1] The employer penalty provisions require coverage for both full-time employees and their dependents (children up to age 26, but not spouses). [2] All employers in a controlled group are aggregated together to determine whether an employer is subject to the penalty. But, once an employer is subject to the penalty, the calculation of the penalty is applied separately to each member of the controlled group.... [3] Penalties do not apply if an employer is in substantial compliance with the requirements. For this purpose, the IRS proposes to adopt an exception for up to 5% of an employer's full-time employees." (Kilpatrick Townsend)

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Publishes Proposed Employer Shared Responsibility Regs
"The proposed regulations provide that employers must offer 'minimum essential coverage' to at least 95% of full-time employees and their 'dependents' to avoid paying a penalty. The proposed regulations define an employee's dependents as a child (as defined in IRC Section 151(f)(1)) who is under 26 years of age. The term 'dependent' does not, therefore, include an employee's spouse. The penalty will be calculated for each calendar month. Employers may take advantage of one of three safe harbors, detailed in the proposal, to determine whether the plan they offer is 'affordable'." (Littler Mendelson LLC)

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Proposed Regs on Employer Shared Responsibility Penalty (PDF)
"[H]ighlights include the following: Clarification that an applicable large employer must offer coverage to 'substantially all' FTEs and their dependent children up to age 26 in order to avoid potential liability for the play or pay penalty.... Clarification that the shared responsibility requirements are generally applied separately to each member of the controlled group.... Expansion of safe harbors for determining whether the employer's health coverage is affordable for purposes of the play and pay penalty.... Special transition relief for non-calendar year plans in existence as of December 27, 2012." (Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]

Proposed IRS Regs on Employer Shared Responsibility Provide Some Welcome News, Some Measures to Thwart Abuse
"The proposed regulations build on ... prior guidance in response to public comments [the IRS] received, resolve some questions the guidance left open, and depart from the prior guidance in certain instances. The proposed regulations also contain several new 'anti-abuse' rules that anticipate and attempt to thwart ways in which employers might manipulate employment status and thus reduce their employer mandate obligations starting in 2014... [This article summarizes] a 144-page regulation (including an 89-page preamble), every page of which contains important guidance for employers who, this current calendar year, will or are likely to exceed the 50 full-time/FTE threshold and thus have shared responsibility duties in 2014." (E is for ERISA)

[Guidance Overview]

Proposed IRS Regs Clarify Employer Mandate Calculations
"Among other points, the proposed rule and Q&As clarify that: [1] Employers will determine each year, based on their current number of employees, whether they will be considered a large employer subject to the shared responsibility provisions for the following year.... [2] Employers average their number of employees across the months in the year to see whether they meet the threshold of 50 FTEs. The averaging can take account of fluctuations that many employers may experience in their work force across the year." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Administration Says Employers Must Offer Family Health Care -- Affordable or Not
"To avoid a possible tax penalty, the government said, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer affordable coverage to those employees. But, it said, the meaning of 'affordable' depends entirely on the cost of individual coverage for the employee, what the worker would pay for 'self-only coverage'.... The new rules ... create a strong incentive for employers to put money into insurance for their employees rather than dependents. It is unclear whether the spouse and children of an employee will be able to obtain federal subsidies to help them buy coverage -- separate from the employee -- through insurance exchanges being established in every state." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Congress Passes Fiscal Cliff Act; Benefits Affected
"Various temporary tax provisions enacted as part of EGTRRA were made permanent. These include: ... The liberalized child and dependent care credit rules (allowing the credit to be calculated based on up to $3,000 of expenses for one dependent or up to $6,000 for more than one) (Sec. 21); ... The exclusion for employer-provided educational assistance (Sec. 127); ... The employer-provided child care credit (Sec. 45F); ... The act also extended through 2013 a number of temporary individual tax provisions, most of which expired at the end of 2011 ... [including] Parity for exclusion from income for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits (Sec. 132(f))[.]" (Journal of Accountancy)

Small Businesses Struggle to Navigate Provisions of the Health Care Law
"Three provisions in particular -- health care exchanges, the small employer's health insurance tax credit, and the shared responsibility penalty -- affect small businesses, whose CEOs often act as accountant, IT director, sales manager, and any number of other roles.... 'One thing we have to understand,' said Phil Kennedy, a small business owner from Oklahoma, 'is that this is a train that's moving.' Here is how four businesses are trying to keep up with that locomotive." (Journal of Accountancy)

Majority of Americans Live in States Where Health Insurance Premiums Are 20 Percent or More of Median Income
"The majority (80 percent) of working-age Americans live in states where premiums are 20 percent or more of median income, according to a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund. The report ... also found that average premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance plans rose 62 percent between 2003 and 2011, from $9,249 to $15,022 per year ... Workers are paying more out-of-pocket as employee payments for their share of health insurance premiums rose by 74 percent on average and deductibles more than doubled, up 117 percent between 2003 and 2011." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Maximizing the Value of Employer-Sponsored Health Care (PDF)
"[E]mployers will continue to be able to manage their costs by simply cutting benefits and asking employees to pay a larger share of their premiums. But the ACA's ban on annual and lifetime dollar limits and its mandates relating to coverage of preventive care services, among other things, represent new constraints on these types of plan-design strategies.... The same supply chain management concepts that employers use to lower costs and improve margins in other aspects of their business can be applied to [employer-sponsored health care plans]." (Deloitte Center for Health Solutions)

Seventh Circuit Issues Preliminary Injunction in Contraception Mandate Case
"The most interesting part of the opinion comes ... where the Court explains its reasoning on the probable merits of the case. Specifically, the Court rejects the government's argument that K&L is a secular corporation that accordingly lacks interests that could be protected under RFRA by pivoting to the Kortes' religious beliefs ... This analysis raises an interesting question about the interplay among the rights of majority shareholders, managers, and corporations after Citizens United. The Seventh Circuit seems to treat them as essentially overlapping, so that government regulation of corporations would be unlawful if it violates the rights of one, two, or all three of the above." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Round-Up of ACA Litigation at Year-End 2012
"The strategy of those challenging the mandate seems to have been to file a large number of cases in courts across the country, thus making likely a split in decisions that would have to be resolved eventually by the Supreme Court. The cases challenging the contraceptive mandate, however, are not all the same, but rather fall into three categories. First, there are cases brought by Catholic institutions not covered by the religious employer safe harbor, such as Catholic hospitals and universities.... Second are cases brought by Protestant institutions that do not necessarily object to all contraceptives, but do object to covering 'morning after' contraceptives, which they regard as abortifacients. Third are cases brought by secular businesses owned by individuals who have religious objections to covering contraceptives (or abortifacients) for their employees." (Health Affairs Blog)

Proposed Regs Help Employers Structure Wellness Programs With Incentive Payments and Premium Discounts
"[E]mployers that restricted wellness programs to completing a health risk assessment in order to get employees more engaged with their health status and aware of their risk factors can now move beyond that more confidently to offer incentives that reward significant changes in health status.... By providing parameters around which employers can structure premium-based incentives, employers can more readily create a tie between each employee's health and the size of each employee's premiums." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Founder of Domino's Pizza Wins Temporary Ruling on Contraceptive Coverage Dispute
"'The (federal) government has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that its actions were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest,' said [federal district court judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff], a 1986 Reagan appointee. "Therefore, the court finds that plaintiffs have established at least some likelihood of succeeding on the merits" of their claim. Monaghan filed the emergency petition this month, on behalf of himself and Domino's Farms Corp., a Michigan property management firm he operates, not directly related to the pizza-chain empire. Monaghan sold his majority interest in the pizza company in 1998." (CNN Belief Blog)

Text of District Court's Temporary Restraining Order Against HHS Contraceptive Mandate (PDF)
"[Plaintiff Thomas] Monaghan asserts that acting to have his company provide such coverage would cause him to commit a grave sin according to his religious beliefs. This argument is well-taken, since DF cannot act (or sin) on its own. Therefore, even though the ACA does not literally apply to Monaghan, the Court is in no position to declare that acting through his company to provide certain health care coverage to his employees does not violate Monaghan's religious beliefs. They are, after all, his religious beliefs.... The Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion "only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest'.... The government bears the burden of proof and 'ambiguous proof will not suffice'.... [A]t this point, the Court has insufficient information before it to adequately determine whether the Government's interests are sufficiently 'compelling,' or whether the Government's actions are the least restrictive. Thus the Government has failed to carry its burden." (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, via Thomas More Law Center)


New Year Brings HHS Mandate Against Religious Freedom
"The Obamacare mandate that forces employers to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization has created a cavernous void for religious liberty that will threaten the existence of many businesses in the new year. On January 1, religious business owners whose employee health plans renew at the beginning of the year will face the impossible decision to either violate their deeply held beliefs by complying with the mandate or jump over Obamacare's conscience cliff and face ruinous fines." (The Heritage Foundation)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

2013 Benefits Rate Card (PDF)
The linked article is a list of indexed statutory limits for both retirement and health & welfare plans. (Towers Watson)

Same-Gender Marriage and Your Employee Benefit Plans
"For so long as DOMA remains the law of the land, employee benefit programs that carry favorable tax attributes for married couples will be treated one way for federal tax purposes and another way for state tax purposes in Maine and elsewhere. At a minimum, employers who have employees that are part of a same-[gender] married couple will have to adjust their payroll systems to accommodate this difference. Administrative forms that identify spouses and are used in determining the payment of benefits (such as life insurance and certain other benefits) should also be reviewed to determine whether state same-[gender] marriage laws are implicated." (Verrill Dana LLP)

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