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February 4, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Lead Benefits Consultant
for AT&T in TX

401(k) Consultant
for Creative Retirement Systems in OH

Retirement Plan Specialist
for Transamerica in IA, OH

Processing and Office Administration Manager
for TRA, Inc. in WI

Plan Document Auditor, 13-0241
for Lincoln Financial Group in ANY STATE, IL, IN

Data Conversion Specialist - Retirement Plan Services
for John Hancock Financial Services in MA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Preparing Benefits and HR Professionals for 2013 and Beyond
in Ohio on March 5, 2013 presented by Thompson Hine LLP

ESOP Accounting: Financial Reporting by ESOPs
Nationwide on February 26, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Equity Compensation Taxation for Private Companies
Nationwide on February 27, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Affordable Care Act: Action Plan Webinar
Nationwide on February 28, 2013 presented by Bass, Berry & Sims

ESOP Accounting - Financial Reporting by the Plan Sponsor
Nationwide on March 5, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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[Official Guidance]

Text of Proposed CMS Regs on Transparency Reports and Reporting of Physician Ownership or Investment Interests
"This final rule will require applicable manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals, or medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to report annually to the Secretary certain payments or transfers of value provided to physicians or teaching hospitals ('covered recipients'). In addition, applicable manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations (GPOs) are required to report annually certain physician ownership or investment interests. The Secretary is required to publish applicable manufacturers' and applicable GPOs' submitted payment and ownership information on a public website." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)


Employer Health & Human Capital Congress - February 21-22, 2013 - Orlando, FL

Sponsored by World Congress

With deadlines looming, and Private Exchanges potentially shifting the employer-health care marketplace, focus on strategy planning and benchmarking. Talk directly to your counterparts in similar industries about next steps in these uncertain times.

[Official Guidance]

Text of Proposed Regs: Required Coverage of FDA-Approved Contraceptive Methods, Sterilization Procedures, and Patient Education and Counseling for Women with Reproductive Capacity (PDF)
"First, the proposed rules would amend the criteria for the religious employer exemption to ensure that an otherwise exempt employer plan is not disqualified because the employer's purposes extend beyond the inculcation of religious values or because the employer serves or hires people of different religious faiths. Second, the proposed rules would establish accommodations for health coverage established or maintained by eligible organizations, or arranged by eligible organizations that are religious institutions of higher education, with religious objections to contraceptive coverage." (Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview]

Religious Nonprofits Won't Pay for Birth Control Under Proposal
"[I]nstitutions that insure themselves, such as hospitals and universities, could use a third party to find a separate health policy that would pay for and provide the coverage. The costs would be offset by the fees insurers pay to participate in the new online health marketplaces set to open in October under the health law." (Kaiser Health News)

[Guidance Overview]

Stand-Alone HRAs: DOL, IRS, HHS Put the Brakes On
"Recognizing the potential hardship to existing stand-alone HRAs, the FAQs include a special rule for amounts credited or made available under HRAs in effect prior to January 1, 2014. Whether or not an HRA is integrated with other group health plan coverage, unused amounts credited before January 1, 2014 may be used after December 31, 2013 to reimburse medical expenses without running afoul of the Act. If the HRA did not prescribe a set amount or amounts to be credited during 2013, then the amounts credited cannot exceed the amount credited for 2012." (Mintz Levin)

[Guidance Overview]

Several Changes Required by HITECH and Omnibus HIPAA Final Rule
"[T]he new rules now mandate that certain subcontractors of your BAs be held to much higher standards of privacy and security. This will be one of the most significant aspects of compliance under the new Omnibus rules. The new rule gives covered entities and business associates up to one year after the 180-day compliance date (up to September 23, 2014) to modify contracts to comply with the rule." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)

[Guidance Overview]

HIPAA/HITECH Act Omnibus Rule Checklist (PDF)
37 items addressed to Covered Entities, Business Associates, and Subcontractor Business Associates. Excerpt: "This checklist is a tool to assist covered entities, business associates and subcontractor business associates to plan their implementation of the January 25, 2013, HIPAA/HITECH Act Omnibus Rule." (Alston & Bird)

[Guidance Overview]

Contraceptive Coverage and Religious Accommodation
"The proposed rule... responds to the 200,000 comments the agencies received on the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking.... This proposed accommodation is unlikely to satisfy everyone (or perhaps anyone) completely. Employees and students of religious organizations will still receive contraceptive coverage to which the organizations object. But it will probably be more difficult for employees and students to access coverage than if it were simply available through their regular health plan." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)

[Guidance Overview]

New Contraceptive Mandate Rules Not Likely to Affect Lawsuits by For-Profits
"One distinctive feature of the new version, besides expanding the number of organizations eligible for an exemption, is that the rules are written in a way that the government contends will mean that the exempt religious organizations will have to perform only one minor duty: they will have to issue a paper declaring that they are eligible for the exemption. Beyond that, according to the new version, those organizations will not have to enter into any contracts for insurance coverage of the services at issue, will not have to arrange any coverage or any such service, will not have to pay for it, and will not have to refer any employee or student for such coverage or service." (SCOTUSblog)

Deadline to Submit Creditable Coverage Disclosures to CMS Is March 1 (PDF)
"Group health plan sponsors that provide prescription drug coverage to individuals eligible for Medicare Part D must disclose to CMS on an annual basis whether the coverage qualifies as creditable or noncreditable. This requirement applies to all plan sponsors that provide prescription drug coverage, even those that do not make prescription drug coverage available to retirees. Calendar year plans must submit this year's disclosure to CMS by March 1, 2013." (Buck Consultants)

Six Questions and Answers About the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate
"Q: Wouldn't this mean that the religious institutions would still pay for birth control as part of the insurance they provide to their workers? A: Administration officials say no. While birth control will be covered, by not requiring employers to pay anything additional or to tell employees how to get the services, the administration believes it has brokered a satisfactory compromise. White House officials said last year that actuaries they consulted said that covering contraceptive services would not increase costs for employers and could actually save insurers money by preventing pregnancy." (Kaiser Health News)

Birth Control Rule Altered to Address Religious Objections
"The proposal could expand the number of groups that do not need to pay directly for birth control coverage, encompassing not only churches and other religious organizations, but also some religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and social service agencies. Health insurance companies would pay for the coverage. The latest proposed change is the third in the last 15 months, all announced on Fridays, as President Obama has struggled to balance women's rights, health care and religious liberty." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Can Health Plans Administer ACA Subsidies Outside the Federal-State Exchange System?
"Because of the sharp increases in health care costs that will result from full implementation of the Act, some unions that offer Taft-Hartley health plans are suggesting that they may no longer be able to continue coverage. Like large employers, they are concerned about the ACA's elimination of certain mechanisms that have been successfully used to control costs." (HR Policy Association)

CMS Releases Sunshine Law Final Rule
"CMS issued the long-awaited, 15-months-overdue ... Final Rule implementing section 6002 of the [ACA] better known as the Sunshine Law. CMS is calling the Sunshine Law the 'National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments' [and] stated that in order to give manufacturers and [group purchasing organizations] sufficient time to prepare, data collection will begin on August 1, 2013." (Faegre Baker Daniels)

Eighth Circuit Says COBRA Penalties Not Needed Due to 'Free' Health Coverage for Plaintiff
"[T]he qualified beneficiary had pursued notice penalties in bankruptcy court and federal district court, and was rejected each time.... The bankruptcy court ruled in Hostess' favor, finding among other things that [his] damages were not connected to the lack of notice two years earlier and even if they were, any prejudice suffered was 'insignificant compared to the benefit he received from two years of uninterrupted free health care.' Also, Hostess did not act in bad faith so a civil penalty was unnecessary; the tumult of Hostess' bankruptcy reorganization likely caused its inability to prove that the COBRA notices were sent." [In re Interstate Bakeries Corp., 2013 WL 275978 (8th Cir., Jan. 25, 2013)] (Thompson SmartHR Manager)

Part-Time Employee Health Care Rare Ahead of Obamacare
"The ADP Research Institute analyzed data from about 300 large employers covering 2 million workers and dependents. Among the employers studied, 23 percent of their workers are part-time but only 8 percent get company-sponsored health benefits. Just 15 percent of part-time workers are even offered health insurance.... Companies don't always offer fringe benefits to low-wage workers, especially part-timers, because doing so traditionally hasn't been considered necessary for hiring and retention[.]" (The Huffington Post)

Religious Nonprofits Won't Pay For Birth Control Under Proposal
"After a year of lawsuits and public outcry, the Obama administration proposed Friday a way for women who work at nonprofit religious institutions to get free birth control without requiring their employers to pay for it. Instead, institutions that insure themselves, such as hospitals and universities, could use a third party to find a separate health policy that would pay for and provide the coverage. The costs would be offset by the fees insurers pay to participate in the new online health marketplaces set to open in October under the health law." (Kaiser Health News)

HHS Defends 'Exchange' Name Change
"The problem, [HHS Director of External Affairs Anton Gunn] said, is that the word 'exchange' doesn't translate to anything meaningful in Spanish.... He explained that 12 million of the people eligible to use exchanges speak Spanish, and 'these are the people we need to reach.'" (FierceHealthPayer)


The Gold Plated Health Care System: What the New Numbers Tell Us about the State of the Economy
"This non-economist ... believes the pause could be more durable, even after 2014. Something deeper and more troublesome than the recession is at work here. As observed last year, the health spending curve actually bent downward a decade ago, four years before the economic crisis. Health cost growth has now spent three years at a pre-Medicare (indeed, a pre-Kennedy Administration) low." (The Health Care Blog)


Obamageddon: Fees, Fees, Fees
"[A HHS executive] joked that anyone who refers to the newly named State Marketplace as 'an Exchange' as we now know them, needs to put a quarter in the jar. A new revenue source for HHS? Perhaps. The comment and loose change penalty would be cute if it didn't come on the heels of several recent announcements and clarifications of additional fees and taxes being layered on employers to help pay for Obamacare." (William Gallagher Associates)


HHS Mandate: An Offensively Narrow Exemption
"[The new contraceptive mandate rule] is another sorry episode in a line of bureaucratic tweaking and unfulfilled promises that again fails to address the serious religious liberty problems caused by the coercive HHS mandate. In short, only the precious few employers who are deemed religious enough by the Obama Administration would be afforded true protection of their religious freedom and the ability to live and act according to their beliefs." (The Heritage Foundation)

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