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February 7, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Director of Sales Support and Implementation
for July Business Services in TX

Sr. Retirement Plan Administrator
for First Savings Retirement Services in PA

Employee Benefits Attorney
for Ice Miller LLP in IN

Litigation Associate
for Boutique Benefits Firm in DC

401(k) Internal Sales / Administrator
for Farmer & Betts in OR

Assistant General Counsel / Director of Government Affairs
for The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries in VA

Retirement Plan Consultant
for Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group in NY

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Webcasts and Conferences

New HIPAA/HITECH Act Regulations - What Plan Sponsors Need to Do to Comply
Nationwide on March 14, 2013 presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

ERISA Litigation National Institute
in Illinois on May 20, 2013 presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

NAPA/ASPPA 401(k) Summit
in Nevada on March 3, 2013 presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

Long-Term Disability Benefits Advanced Seminar
in Illinois on May 22, 2013 presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

WiPN Seattle and Las Vegas Events - February and March
Nationwide on February 26, 2013 presented by Women in Pensions Network

Health Care Reform
in Minnesota on April 26, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Minnesota on April 25, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

HIPAA Privacy & Security
in Minnesota on April 25, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Minnesota on April 24, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Minnesota on April 24, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Cafeteria Plans
in Minnesota on April 23, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Application for Health Insurance Webinar
Nationwide on February 8, 2013 presented by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Application for Health Insurance Webinar
Nationwide on February 11, 2013 presented by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Impact of Recent Agency FAQ Guidance on HRAs and Private Exchange Arrangements Teleconference
Nationwide on February 13, 2013 presented by Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC)

Health Care Reform Update: The Employer Mandate and Other Considerations for 2013 Webinar
Nationwide on February 13, 2013 presented by Ballard Spahr LLP

Helping Small Business Owners Save for Retirement Webcast
Nationwide on February 27, 2013 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS 2012 Report on ACA Effect on Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries (PDF)
"This second annual report details how millions of seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare continued to experience lower costs on prescription drugs and improved benefits in 2012 because of the [ACA]. Since the law's enactment, 6.1 million Americans with Medicare who reached the Part D coverage gap also known as the 'donut hole,' have saved over $5.7 billion on prescription drugs. Drug savings of $2.5 billion in 2012 are higher than the $2.3 billion in savings for 2011.... [Projected] average savings per Medicare beneficiary [are] approximately $5,000 from enactment through 2022, while those with high prescription drug spending are projected to save much more -- over $18,000." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)


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[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Give Relief to Employers on March 1 Exchange Notice Deadline, But May Thwart Use of HRAs (PDF)
"It is helpful that the agencies intend to assist employers by designing a safe-harbor notice.... Unfortunately, the guidance on HRAs is not what many were hoping for, as it would appear to preclude some defined contribution plan designs that had been envisioned.... Similarly, the guidance narrowing the exemption for fixed indemnity plans will limit some plan designs." (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

[Guidance Overview]

Health Reimbursement Accounts Under the ACA (PDF)
"[A] Stand-Alone HRA that covers active employees and provides any EHB is subject to the PHS Section 2711 no limits requirement. For all practical purposes, employers that have been offering Stand-Alone HRAs will abandon such arrangements since it is unlikely that any employer will grant an employee unlimited coverage for any EHB under an HRA." (Chao & Company, Ltd.)

[Guidance Overview]

Proposed Wellness Rules Clarify Rewards and 'Reasonableness'
"The proposed amendments clarify that a reasonable alternative standard developed by a medical professional who is not independent of the employer ceases to be reasonable if it conflicts with the recommendations of an individual's personal physician and also clarify that it is not reasonable for an employer to seek verification of a health condition where the individual's medical condition is known or patently obvious." (Benefits Bryan Cave)

[Guidance Overview]

Form 990 Schedule R Reporting for Multiemployer Health and Welfare Plans: Changes for 2012
"For the 2012 reporting year, multiemployer health and welfare plans need to identify only the legal names and federal tax classifications of employers who contribute to the plan. This represents a change from 2011, in which the IRS required reporting of each contributing employer's address, federal employer identification number (EIN), primary activity, legal domicile and direct controlling entity, in addition to legal name and federal tax classification." (Lindquist LLP)


[Advert.]

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[Guidance Overview]

It's Time to Start Counting Full-Time Employees
"The proposed regulations confirm that the number and mix of an employer's full-time and part-time employees during the remainder of 2013 can make a significant difference in determining whether the employer will be an applicable large employer when the employer mandate becomes effective in 2014. Each employee's status as a full-time or part-time employee in 2013 will also be important for applicable large employers because (depending on the measurement periods selected) employee hours during 2013 will determine which employees must be offered affordable health plan coverage in 2014." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)

[Guidance Overview]

HIPAA/HITECH Omnibus Final Rule: Implications for Marketing
"[T]he Final Rule departs from prior versions of the rule in that it requires individual authorization for all communications, whether for 'treatment' or 'health care operations' purposes, where the covered entity receives financial remuneration for making the communications from a third party whose product or service is being marketed. 'Financial remuneration' means direct or indirect payment from or on behalf of a third party whose product or service is being described.... [T]he Final Rule retains a narrow exemption ... for refill reminders and other communications that are about a drug or biologic that is currently being prescribed for the individual." (Drinker Biddle)

[Guidance Overview]

What Employers Need to Know About the HIPAA/HITECH Omnibus Final Rule
"While these changes do not alter the fundamental structure of HIPAA compliance, employers still face a relatively lengthy 'to do' list to comply with all of the new requirements. Perhaps, even more importantly, once the revised regulations go into effect, employers will confront much higher enforcement risk and significantly increased exposure to six- and seven-figure civil monetary penalties." (Littler Mendelson P.C.)

Committees Launch Obamacare Burden Tracker
"According to the Obama Administration's own estimates, ObamaCare will require American job creators, families, and health care providers to spend over 127 million hours per year on compliance. That burden is growing with every new regulation published ... What could be done in 127,602,371 hours? Mount Rushmore, which took 14 years to build, could be constructed 1,040 times. Halley's comet, seen from Earth once every 76 years, could be spotted 191 times. The Empire State building, which took 7 million hours to build, could be constructed 18 times." (U.S. House Ways and Means Committee)

Utah Offers to Split Health Insurance Exchange
"Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said ... that he's made a new offer to [HHS] Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: His state will run half of a health insurance exchange, and let the federal government run the other half.... [U]nlike other states, Utah already has a health insurance exchange for small businesses that acts as a one-stop shopping marketplace but doesn't have some of the regulations included in the federal health overhaul," (The Wall Street Journal)

HHS Reports Medicare Prescription Drug Savings Hit $5.7b
"In 2012, seniors saved $2.5 billion on prescriptions, compared to $2.3 billion in 2011 ... an average of $706 per person in 2012.... Drugmakers have agreed to give the government a 52.5% discount on premium drugs and 21% on generic drugs to participate in Medicare in 2013[.]" (USA TODAY)

HHS Delays Basic Health Plan Option Until 2015
"[S]ome states had planned to offer government insurance to people who don't qualify for Medicaid, but who would be hard pressed -- even with federal subsidies -- to afford the premiums and cost-sharing of plans offered in the new insurance marketplaces. Those earning up to twice the federal poverty level, or about $47,000 for a family of four, would have been eligible.... [HHS] said it basically ran out of time to put out guidelines to get the program running by 2014." (Kaiser Health News)

Scary Health-Care Statistics on the Broken-Down Boomer Generation
"Aging baby boomers are fatter and sicker than their predecessors were at the same age, says a new study that's raising alarms about the future costs of health care and disability.... [B]oomers were less likely to report excellent health and to do regular exercise, and more likely to suffer from obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other maladies. To pick one sorrowful example, they were twice as likely to use a 'walking assist device,' such as a cane." (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Employers Becoming More Savvy About Specialty Pharmacy
"[In a] survey on specialty pharma in 2011, 53 percent of respondents said they had a low level of understanding these benefits. That improved considerably in the 2012 survey, when none indicated a low level and only 4 percent indicated very little understanding." (HealthLeaders InterStudy)

DOL Final Rule Expands Military Family Leave and Leave for Airline Flight Crew Members
"[C]aregiver leave ... now can be taken up to five years after the service member leaves the military and for an injury or illness that results from a condition that predates the individual's active duty but that was exacerbated by the military service." (FMLA Insights)

DOL Issues Final Rule Implementing FMLA Statutory Amendments
"[T]he DOL takes the position that any leave to care for a veteran voluntarily provided by an employer before March 8, 2013 that does not otherwise qualify as FMLA leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition is not FMLA-protected and does not count against an employee's FMLA entitlement." (Ford & Harrison LLP)

Vets Get Upgrades on Family and Medical Leave
"The families of eligible vets now will have the same FMLA benefits afforded to active-duty caregivers under the law's expansion. The final rule ... also applies to service members' pre-existing injuries or illnesses aggravated during active duty, and increases the amount of time in the 'qualifying exigency' category that a family member can take off for a service member's 'rest and recuperation' from five to 15 days." (GovExec.com)

Five Bipartisan Health Care Reform Options
"These reforms have had the support of both parties in the past and are capable of effectively reining in spending: Raise Medicare's eligibility age.... Reform Medigap to incentivize better behavior.... Simplify cost-sharing and add a catastrophic benefit.... Allow for competition in Medicare.... Cap Medicaid spending per beneficiary." (The Heritage Foundation)

[Opinion]

HHS Tries Selling Contraception Mandate with a Morality-Laundering Scheme
"But [the new proposal is] not compromise. That's 'you lose,' attached to a morality-laundering scheme. It does nothing meaningful to address the objections of religious-affiliated employers who provide health insurance for employees and it does nothing at all to protect the freedom of conscience of private employers who object to the mandate." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

[Opinion]

Why Premiums Will Change for People Who Now Have Nongroup Insurance
"Compared with existing practice, the new rules will lower premiums for older people and many women, while raising premiums for young people (particularly young men). This has led to concerns that these young people will suffer 'rate shock,' [although] the potential for premium increases among young people is mitigated by the fact that many of them will be eligible for premium subsidies. People under age 30 also are able to enroll in a special catastrophic plan that will provide coverage roughly similar to bronze plans and with rates that may be much less affected by the age limitation." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Opinion]

Health Care Industry Efforts Hold Key to Access
"[H]ealth reform is a 'go.' Yet, gaps and questions remain, some of them potentially far more substantial than originally anticipated.... How can we make the most of this platform? How can we connect the people to the coverage offered by the exchanges and persuade people to buy it? How can we connect the people who buy coverage to the care they will need? And how can we do so in a way that doesn't break the bank?" (Health Affairs Blog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

DOL FAQs Address Hurricane Sandy-Related Benefits Issues
"Individuals who lose coverage as a result of Hurricane Sandy may be able to request special enrollment in another group health plan (for example, under a spouse's plan), which must be requested within 30 days of losing eligibility for other coverage." (Practical Law Company)

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Updates Late 5500 Correction Program
"Paper filings are no longer accepted for either timely or delinquent filings ... The DOL added an online tool to its website ..., designed to assist filers in determining which versions of Forms 5500/5500-SF and schedules to use when filing delinquent annual reports or amending prior year annual reports under EFAST2 ... Filers who utilize the online payment system are no longer required to mail a hard copy of the Form 5500 (without schedules) to another DVFC address." (Benefits Bryan Cave)

Compensation Costs Increased in December 2012
"Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1.9 percent for the 12-month period ending December 2012, essentially unchanged from the December 2011 increase of 2.0 percent. Wages and salaries increased 1.7 percent for the current 12-month period. In December 2011 the increase was 1.4 percent. Benefit costs increased 2.5 percent for the 12-month period ending December 2012, down from the December 2011 increase, which was 3.2 percent." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Social Security, Health Spending to Hit $3.2 Trillion a Year by 2023
"Federal spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid stood at $1.6 trillion in 2012, with healthcare spending alone at $885 billion. CBO predicts that annual outlays for those programs alone will top $3 trillion by 2023, with Obama's healthcare reform law adding another $134 billion in costs to provide coverage for 26 million people through new state-based healthcare exchanges." (Chicago Tribune)

Press Releases

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