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February 1, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Relationship Manager
for Independent Pension Consultants in MN

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Webcasts and Conferences

401(k) Essentials Plus Series
Nationwide on April 18, 2013 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Hot Topics in Executive Arrangements: Employment and Other Tax Issues
Nationwide on March 7, 2013 presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Best Practices for S Corporation ESOPs
in Arizona on February 7, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Deep Dive into the Play or Pay Penalty Components Webinar
Nationwide on February 7, 2013 presented by Bass, Berry & Sims

Incentive Plans That Support Employee Ownership Plans
Nationwide on February 12, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Don't Do That With Your ESOP: Legal and Fiduciary Issues
Nationwide on February 19, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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[Guidance Overview]

Federal Agencies Issue New Rules Addressing Minimal Essential Coverage, Premium Tax Credit Eligibility
"The proposal lists the following as types of coverage that would be designated per se as minimum essential coverage: Self-funded student health insurance plans. Foreign health coverage. Refugee medical assistance supported by the Administration for Children and Families. Medicare advantage plans. AmeriCorps coverage. In addition, the HHS proposes that state high risk pools also initially be designated minimum essential coverage, but reserves the right to assess and reevaluate this decision." (Littler Mendelson LLC)


Summit on Ancillary Products and Voluntary Benefits - March 13-15, Lake Mary, FL

Sponsored by World Congress

This Summit is a must attend for health plans, insurance carriers and brokers looking for the most current insights, innovations and solutions available in the ancillary and voluntary benefits sector. Promo Code BLINK3 good for $300 off registration fee.

[Guidance Overview]

How the New Regs Address Shared Responsibility,Tax Exemptions and Family Coverage Affordability
"The bottom line seems to be that even though an employer must offer coverage for an employee and the employee's children, the employer will not be penalized if family coverage is unaffordable as long as self-only coverage is affordable.... On the other hand, if self-only coverage is affordable to the employee (defined now as costing no more than 8 percent of household income) an employee [must] purchase it to avoid the individual responsibility penalty, but need not purchase family coverage for dependents if family coverage costs more than 8 percent of household income.... Employers can offer unaffordable family coverage and avoid a penalty. The federal government will pay less for premium tax credits as fewer people will be eligible. And hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of children (and spouses) will remain uninsured." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)

[Guidance Overview]

HHS Releases New Guidance on Use of ERRP Reimbursements and Correction of Data Inaccuracies (PDF)
"A plan sponsor must continue to satisfy the 'maintenance of contribution' requirement as long as it retains ERRP funds. It is therefore important that a plan sponsor document the use of ERRP funds as soon as practical.... "It is important that plan sponsors who received ERRP reimbursements correct in a timely manner any data inaccuracies in pending payment requests that were for the same plan year. Data inaccuracies include prescription drug rebates that were estimated in an initial submission, but later were finalized. (Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]

Proposed Regs Define Essential Health Benefits and Actuarial Value Under ACA
"To standardize how AV is calculated, HHS is providing an online 'AV calculator' to assist issuers in determining a health plan's AV, using a national, standard population. In 2015, HHS will begin to accept state-specific data if individual states submit such data for the calculator. While high deductible health plans and health savings arrangements are currently compatible with the AV calculator, the guidance includes proposed standards and other considerations for plans that have design features that are not readily compatible with the AV calculator." (McGuire Woods LLP)

Implementing the ACA: State Action on the 2014 Market Reforms
"Because states are the primary regulators of health insurance, this issue brief examines new state action on a subset of protections -- such as guaranteed access to coverage and a ban on preexisting condition exclusions -- that go into effect in 2014. The analysis finds that, to date, only one state passed new legislation on all of these protections, and an additional 10 states and the District of Columbia passed new legislation or issued a new regulation on at least one protection." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Only 11 States and D.C. Have Taken Action to Implement the ACA 2014 Health Insurance Market Reforms
"Thirty-nine states have not yet taken action to implement these requirements, potentially limiting their ability to fully enforce the new reforms and ensure that consumers receive the full protections of the law. These reforms include bans on denying people health insurance due to preexisting conditions, a minimum benefit standard, and limits on out-of-pocket costs.... Without new legislation, regulators in at least 22 states would be limited in their ability to use all of the tools they need to protect consumers under the Affordable Care Act. The authors say that while states can use existing authority to promote compliance with many of the law's requirements, 'questions remain about how effectively states can enforce the 2014 market reforms without new or expanded legal authority.'" (The Commonwealth Fund)

Policy Options to Sustain Medicare for the Future (PDF)
"This [232-page] report presents a compendium of policy ideas that have the potential to produce Medicare savings or generate revenue, while also laying out the possible implications of these options for beneficiaries, health care providers, and others, as well as estimates of potential savings, when available." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Why the Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending Can't Tell Us Much About the Efficiency or Quality of Our Health Care System (PDF)
"This paper examines the geographic variation in Medicare and non-Medicare health spending and finds little support for the view that most of the variation is attributable to differences in practice styles. Instead, ... socioeconomic factors that affect the need for medical care, as well as interactions between the Medicare system, Medicaid, and private health spending, can account for most of the variation in Medicare health spending. Furthermore, ... the health spending of the non-Medicare population is not well correlated with Medicare spending, suggesting that Medicare spending is not a good proxy for average health spending by state." (Louise Sheiner, Federal Reserve Board of Governors)

Where Is Health Spending Headed?
"CMS actuaries already see health costs rising, but expect the rate fully to double in 2014 (to 7.8 percent). One worrisome 2011 datum: the 6.2 percent rise in Medicare spending, sharply higher than the 3.8 percent increase in private insurance costs. Medicare saw 1.1 million new beneficiaries and experienced a 3.6 percent increase in per-beneficiary expense in 2011. If these trends continue or accelerate through 2014, CMS might be close to the mark." (Health Affairs Blog)

National Health Spending In 2011: Overall Growth Remains Low But Some Payers And Services Show Signs of Acceleration
"In 2011 US health care spending grew 3.9 percent to reach $2.7 trillion, marking the third consecutive year of relatively slow growth. Growth in national health spending closely tracked growth in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 and 2011, and health spending as a share of GDP remained stable from 2009 through 2011, at 17.9 percent." (Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS))

Tick, Tock: Administration Misses Some Health Law Deadlines
"The Obama administration is late in implementing several provisions of the federal health overhaul intended to improve access to care and lower costs. The programs, slated to take effect Jan. 1, were supposed to increase fees to primary care doctors who treat Medicaid patients, give states more federal funding if they eliminate Medicaid co-pays for preventive services and experiment with changes to how doctors and hospitals are paid by Medicare. The administration also has delayed giving states guidance on a new coverage option known as the 'basic health program,' designed to help low and moderate-income people who don't qualify for Medicaid." (Kaiser Health News)

Exempt from the Obamacare Mandate: The Amish, Mennonites, Prisoners, Aliens and Indian Tribes
"Plus, people who don't have to file tax returns. Plus people who are uninsured for no more than three months. Plus the homeless. Plus family members of a worker who is offered 'affordable individual coverage' by an employer who faces family premiums in excess of 8% of family income." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

Charges Billed by Out-of-Network Providers: A Hidden Threat to Affordability
"This report provides a snapshot, state-by-state, of exorbitant charges billed by some out-of-network physicians in the 30 largest states by population. Our survey further indicated that health plans and their members routinely receive bills from physicians that are 10 to 20, or sometimes nearly 100 times higher than Medicare would allow. It illustrates the value of provider networks and a pressing problem faced by consumers who want affordable, meaningful access to out-of-network providers." (America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP))

Here Are 1.2 Million Reasons Why Employers Must Train Their Managers About the FMLA
"It is critical that your managers identify an employee's need for FMLA leave because, at a minimum: 1) they are responsible for communicating to Human Resources or a leave administrator that the employee may need FMLA leave; and 2) they are your eyes and ears at an early stage in the game where FMLA abuse might be an issue." (FMLA Insights)

Failure to Train Managers About FMLA Resulted in $1.2 Million Cost for Employer
"Despite pointing out that the leave was medically necessary and formally asking for FMLA leave, the boss terminated [the employee, whose] claims for interference with his FMLA leave rights went to a jury trial.... $750,000. The employer's total loss, including [the employee's] and its own attorneys' fees and costs, exceeded $1.2 million.... Managers and supervisors do not need to be FMLA leave experts. However, they need to have a basic understanding of the leave rights provided by the FMLA ... in order to avoid million-dollar mistakes like [this employee's] supervisor committed." (Reed Group)


Taking On Obamacare's Discriminatory Subsidies: Arizona Should Keep Slugging
"An odd and unforeseen result of the Supreme Court's decision upholding ObamaCare is that, in certain circumstances, the law will now subsidize legal immigrants but not citizens. What triggers this inequity is a state's decision to implement an Exchange -- not the decision to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. (Even if a state implements both provisions, legal immigrants would still receive more valuable subsidies than citizens.) The good news is that states can therefore prevent this inequity simply by not establishing an Exchange." (Cato Institute)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Legal Memorandum Addresses Stock Options and Other Transaction-Related Deductions
"On January 28, 2013, the [IRS] published a generic legal advice memorandum (GLAM), AM2012-10, addressing the timing under the consolidated return regulations of certain deductions that commonly arise in an acquisition, including compensation deductions attributable to amounts paid to cash out a target company's non-qualified stock options (NQOs) and stock appreciation rights (SARs) held by employees.... The GLAM is not binding legal authority, but is a significant statement of the IRS's position with respect to what can be a material issue in an acquisition. If the IRS is correct, option deductions and certain other deal-related deductions that cannot be allocated to the post-closing periods will be immediately useable only if the target is profitable, or possibly if it had been profitable in prior periods and can claim a refund." (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati)

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Approves Listing Standards for Compensation Committees
"The SEC approved the standards substantially as proposed in October 2012 ..., including recent amendments to the proposals that made a few minor changes (including extending the phase-in schedule for issuers that cease to be smaller reporting companies and clarifying that assessing the independence of compensation advisers is not required for advisers whose roles are limited to consulting on broad-based, nondiscriminatory plans or providing noncustomized data)." (McGuire Woods LLP)

Examples of Disclosures Regarding Conflict-Free Compensation Advisors
"New S-K Item 407(e)(3)(iv) provides that if any compensation consultant has played a role in determining or recommending the amount or form of executive and director compensation, and the consultant's work has raised any conflict of interest, then disclosure of the nature of the conflict and how the conflict is being addressed is required.... [Although the rule] does not require any disclosure if the compensation consultant's work did not raise any conflict of interest ... a review of 20 proxy statements filed [during January showed that] 12 companies (60%) made disclosures that their compensation consultant had no conflict of interest.... The disclosures also contain interesting discussions of procedures and practices companies are using in this area." (Dodd-Frank.com, a blog by Leonard, Street and Deinard)

Hodgson Russ Employee Benefits Developments, January 2013
Articles include: Fiscal Cliff Legislation Contains Benefit Plan Changes; IRS Extends Date to Amend Defined Benefit Plans for Section 436 Restrictions; IRS Publishes Final Regulations on New PCORI Fees Imposed on Health Plans; Proposed Regulations Limit Executive Compensation and Administrative Expenses for Service Providers Contracting With New York State; and IRS Creates Exception to Anti-Cutback Rule for Lump Sum Payments by Plan Sponsor in Bankruptcy. (Hodgson Russ LLP)

Press Releases

NAPA and ASPPA Announce 401k Advisor Leadership Award Finalists
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

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