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February 15, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Planning Consultant
for Diversified in IN

Employee Benefits Associate
for Nixon Peabody LLP in NY

Product Manager
for Charles Schwab in AZ

Plan Administrator
for Pelion Actuarial Services in ANY STATE

Retirement Plan / 401(k) Analyst
for Altman & Cronin Benefit Consultants, LLC in CA

Emerging Business Account Executive
for Woodruff-Sawyer & Co in CA

Manager - Conversions
for Verisight, Inc. in CA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Foreign Transferees: Outbound, Inbound, Equity and Treaty Issues
Nationwide on March 13, 2013 presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

"403(b) Plan Corrections: Correcting Under the New EPCRS Procedure" Web Seminar
Nationwide on March 21, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

Is an ESOP Right for You?
Nationwide on April 2, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Valuation Basics
Nationwide on April 9, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Letter to State of Illinois Conditionally Approving Partnership Exchange (PDF)
"Conditional approval reflects the substantial progress Illinois has made and an expectation that Illinois will be ready to provide affordable, quality coverage for consumers and small businesses in 2014.... [The] decision is contingent upon [certain] conditions[.]" (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)


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[Guidance Overview]

Proposed Regs Broaden Exemptions from and Accommodations for Offering Group Health Contraceptive Coverage
"For eligible organizations that self-insure their group health plans, the departments are considering three alternative approaches for providing participants with contraceptive coverage at no additional cost.... The first approach would provide third-party administrators with an economic incentive to arrange for individual policies by providing that the third-party administrator would be compensated by the issuer for doing so. In this option, the third-party administrator would act like an agent of the plan. The second option provides that the eligible organization would only be in compliance with the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage if the third-party administrator automatically arranges individual policies. Here, the third-party administrator would also receive compensation from the issuer. Finally, the third option would make the third-party administrator directly responsible for automatically arranging individual policies." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Issues New FMLA Regs (PDF)
"Prior to the March 8, 2013, effective date of the regulations, employers covered by the FMLA should review all FMLA policies and forms to ensure that they are consistent with the regulations. Employers should ensure that they are accounting for intermittent leave in increments of one hour, or shorter increments if other forms of leave are permitted in shorter increments. Additionally, employers should ensure that management employees are trained on the expansions of qualifying military family leave, so that potential leave requests can be identified appropriately." (Alston & Bird)

Gaps in Dental Coverage Under ACA
"Children's dental coverage is considered an 'essential health benefit' under the law. But the way it's likely to be offered -- through separate dental policies with no penalties for parents who don't get them -- has dentists and child health advocates worried." (Politico)

Why Obama's Optimism on Health Costs Is Premature
"It is true that the United States has just experienced four straight years of modest health care growth, a trend with huge implications for the federal budget, wages, and household budgets. If the slow growth lasts, it could mean the end to yearly spikes in insurance premiums. It could tame federal deficits for years to come and also help to ease state budget woes. But what's causing the trend and whether it's here to stay are big unanswered questions." (NationalJournal)


[Advert.]

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It's an ERISA Plan? District Court Construes Group Discount As Employer Contribution Under DOL Group Insurance Safe Harbor Analysis
"[T]he District of New Jersey found that an employer's mere offering of a group policy with a group discount was a 'contribution' sufficient to create an ERISA plan.... The court noted that under Third Circuit precedent, an ERISA plan generally exists if from the surrounding circumstances a reasonable person can ascertain the intended benefits, beneficiaries, financing, and procedures for benefits under the plan." [McCann v. UNUM Provident, et al., 3:11-cv-03241-MLC-TJB (Jan. 31, 2013).] (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Health Care as an Economic Stabilizer
"[T]otal private investment fluctuates considerably over booms and busts. By contrast, health care spending remains fairly stable over time. It does tend to growth less rapidly in times of deep recessions, but it has not declined in the United States." (Uwe E. Reinhardt in The New York Times; free registration required)

Enrollments for Insurance Start Oct. 1, Administration Official Says
"An Obama administration official told Congress on Thursday that the government would be ready to enroll millions of people in private health insurance plans this fall, but senators of both parties expressed doubts.... [A]fter listening to [Gary M. Cohen, the federal official in charge of setting up health insurance exchanges] for more than an hour, the committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, ... demanded a detailed work plan and timetable for specific tasks, showing how the White House would meet the Oct. 1 deadline." (Reuters, via The New York Times; free registration required)

Inside the Administration's Plan to Build 25 Insurance Exchanges
"[HHS] has put a lot of effort into building something called a 'federal data hub,' where the federal government -- and the states -- can check if an individual is eligible for new benefits. As you can see in [a] diagram that consultants at Xerox drew up, the eligibility system is quite complex, as it needs to draw information a number of federal agencies." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

U.S. Official Touts Health Insurance Exchanges But Lawmakers Leery
"The Obama administration on Thursday assured U.S. lawmakers that it is on track to enroll millions of people in new state health insurance markets, but it quickly came under fire from Republicans and Democrats about how costly the coverage may be. Gary Cohen, the Department of Health and Human Services official responsible for implementation of the markets known as health exchanges, told a Senate panel the online marketplaces would meet an October 1 enrollment deadline in all 50 states." (Reuters)

Workplace Health Management Programs More Successful When Spouses Included
"[T]he best practices most strongly associated with positive outcomes were: [1] Including spouses in key components of the program, [2] Promoting all wellness activities under a single brand name, [3] Having a formal, written strategic plan with financial objectives, and [4] Active participation by senior leadership in wellness programs." (Mercer)

Expiration of Health Coverage Tax Credit Will Affect Participants' Costs and Coverage Choices
"The GAO found that approximately 69 percent of HCTC participants will likely be ineligible for either an ACA premium tax credit or Medicaid, or they will likely receive a ACA premium tax credit less generous than the HCTC. However, the GAO's analysis also found that at least 23 percent will likely be eligible for ACA premium tax credits more generous than the HCTC. In addition to the ACA premium tax credit, up to 28 percent of all HCTC participants will likely be eligible for ACA cost-sharing subsidies, depending in part on whether or not their state expands Medicaid under the ACA." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Health Insurance Exchanges Are Top Priority for States
"[R]esearchers found that 55 percent of respondents (including a majority of Democrats and Republicans) selected creating a health insurance exchange or marketplace as their top priority for their state's governor and legislature. Fifty-two percent of respondents believed that their state should adopt Medicaid expansion, with 75 percent of Democrats but only 34 percent of Republicans in agreement." (Medical Xpress)

Feds Tighten Benefits for High-Risk Pool Members
"The Obama administration has increased costs for about 38,000 people enrolled in high-risk insurance pools run under the federal health law to prevent the program from running out of money. The pools, which started in 2010, will expire at the end of the year when new rules prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illnesses take effect. The program was funded with $5 billion." (Kaiser Health News)

[Opinion]

Where Are the ACA Savings?
"Here's [Tom Emerick's] theory ... it's just a theory. ACA will 'save' consumers a bundle of money by lowering deductibles and out of pocket expenses, covering a much wider range of health services, taking the caps off many limits, covering children to age 26, etc., etc. In one very particular sense that will save families a lot of money. The hitch is these things drive up premium costs." (Cracking Health Costs)

[Opinion]

Health Care's Good News
"[If] the growth of [health care] spending is decelerating, why are premiums increasing? First, the big increases were in relatively small parts of the market, among individual and small-business policies. Second, like everyone else in the health care industry, insurance companies are uncertain about the future, particularly about what will happen to their margins when the new exchanges open in October." (The New York Times; free registration required)

[Opinion]

Smaller Rate Increase in California by Anthem Blue Cross Welcome But Too Little, Too Late
"The California Department of Insurance announced today that a 17.9% average health insurance rate increase paid by 630,000 Anthem Blue Cross customers on February 1st has been reduced to 13.9%. Anthem should never have charged its customers the double-digit increase, said the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, but regulators in California lack the power to reject an excessive rate increase before it takes effect." (Consumer Watchdog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

CalSTRS Fights Disney Over Executive Comp and Role of Board Chairman
"The $158 billion state pension, with 5.28 million Disney shares, will oppose an amendment to the company's stock incentive plan and cast a 'no' advisory vote on executive pay, according to a statement today. CalSTRS also will vote in favor of splitting the chairman and CEO roles in the future." (Bloomberg)

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