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March 7, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Retirement Plan Administrator
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Communications Administrator - Current Clients
for Christian Retirement Ministries in CO

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Webcasts and Conferences

Best Practices for Other Retirement Plans When You Have an ESOP
Nationwide on May 28, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Using ESOPs to Structure an Acquisition - Legal Issues
Nationwide on June 4, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Using ESOPs to Structure Acquisitions - Strategic & Practical Issues
Nationwide on June 11, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

What You Need to Know as an Internal ESOP Fiduciary
Nationwide on June 18, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Valuation Issues for Internal Trustees
Nationwide on June 25, 2013 presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

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[Guidance Overview]

New Enforcement and Reporting Rules Applicable to Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs)
"Previously, the DOL's primary enforcement tool against fraudulent and abusive MEWAs was court-ordered injunctive relief. Now, ERISA permits the DOL to issue cease and desist orders, without prior notice or a hearing, when it appears that a MEWA has engaged in [certain] conduct[.]" (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)


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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Issues Interim Final Regs on Whistleblower Protections Under the ACA (PDF)
"Given the complexity of the ACA, the increasing incentives for employees to report employer violations (willful or inadvertent) and the minimal pleading standards for complaints set out in the new rule, employers should be extra vigilant in familiarizing themselves with the rules and requirements of Title I of the Act and ensuring compliance. As the ACA continues to be implemented over the coming years, whistleblower claims will likely increase[.]" (Alston & Bird)

[Guidance Overview]

A New Headache for Employers: Whistleblower Claims Under the ACA (PDF)
"The whistleblower protections under the [ACA] are robust, both with respect to the range of protected activity and the procedural tools and burdens of proof available to complaining employees. The potential impact on employers is significant. Unlike many areas for retaliation complaints, the [ACA] is intended to cover most, if not all, employees -- making them all potential whistleblowers." (Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP)

[Guidance Overview]

Treatment of ACA Whistleblower Complaints (PDF)
"[T]he relationship between the employee's receipt of a subsidy and the potential tax penalty imposed (section 4980H) on an applicable Large Employer could create an incentive for the employer to retaliate against an employee.... [Therefore,] Applicable Large Employers may consider taking the following actions early to minimize or avoid the likelihood of causing retaliatory complaints by employees:" (Chao & Company, Ltd.)

[Guidance Overview]

Final ACA Regs Address Transitional Reinsurance Program Premiums and Potential Effects for Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plans
"[For] group health plans that coordinate with Medicare, when the employer-provided coverage is primary, the employer plan would be required to make the transitional reinsurance program contributions. This scenario would occur when an individual is still actively employed by an employer, and covered under the employer's plan and Medicare[.]" (McDermott Will & Emery)

[Guidance Overview]

Final HHS Regs Create Risk Adjustment Programs to Stabilize Premiums
"The 483-page Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2014 final rule ... will reduce premiums in the individual market by 10 percent to 15 percent in 2014, according to a fact sheet issued by HHS. The rule, which takes effect April 30, ... provides further information on the so-called RRR programs required by ACA: a permanent risk adjustment program, a transitional reinsurance program, and a temporary risk corridor program[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)

Health Costs Slow to Lowest Rate in 15 Years As Employer Commitment to Benefits Wanes
"The slowing of the rate of health care cost increases comes amid a sluggish economy and a period of high unemployment that has made it easier for companies to reduce benefits of their workers.... The cost-shifting trend is expected to continue as employers wrestle with the uncertainty that lies ahead with the implementation of the [ACA]." (Forbes)

Are You Ready for a HIPAA and ACA Audit?
"[The DOL] appears to be pursuing its own robust approach to group health plan examinations, covering the HIPAA portability requirements, wellness programs, and [ACA] compliance.... [This article includes] a copy of the document request that one of [the firm's] clients recently received to kick off a DOL examination that will include an on-site visit." (Verrill Dana LLP)

In Conservative Arizona, Government-Run Health Care That Works
"As Congress debates an ambitious and far-reaching effort by the Obama administration to streamline medical care and rein in spending for the nation's sickest and most expensive patients, Arizona ...is occupying an unusual place in the national landscape: as a model for how a generously-funded, tightly regulated government program can aid vulnerable, low-income patients." (Kaiser Health News)

House Spending Bill Cuts Funding for Exchanges
"The GOP-controlled House of Representatives on [March 6] passed legislation to fund the government through Sept. 30.... According to Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, the measure will delay implementation of the health law's exchanges scheduled to begin enrolling individuals in October." (Kaiser Health News)

Employers Plan Aggressive Response to Shifting Health Care Landscape
"[E]mployers expect average total costs for active employees to reach $12,136 in 2013, up 5.1% from $11,457 in 2012 -- the lowest cost increase in 15 years.... [E]mployees contribute 42% more for health care than they did five years ago, compared to a 32% increase for employers. The total employee cost share, including premiums and out-of-pocket costs, has climbed from 34% in 2011 to 37% in 2013." (National Business Group on Health)

Invisible Gorillas, Voluntary Benefits, and You
"Although we all know that voluntary benefits can provide tremendous value to the employees that take advantage of them, it's important for employers to make sure employees know that the value is there. Clear communication is vital." (Healthcare Reform Magazine)

Cigna Decides Not to Join Connecticut Insurance Exchange
"Cigna hasn't completely ruled out participating in Connecticut's exchange in the future. But since the marketplace has a two-year lockout for insurers that don't participate when it opens, Cigna can't reverse its decision until at least 2016." (FierceHealthPayer)

Steven Brill Explains His 'Bitter Pill'
"[D]uring the long debate over President Barack Obama's health insurance reform proposals, a question kept nagging at me: Everyone on all sides seemed to accept as a given that healthcare was wildly expensive, and the only debate seemed to be over who should pay for it. I wondered: Well, why is it so expensive in the first place?" (Reuters)

Poll Finds 15-Point Drop in Democrats' Support for Health Law
"Opponents of the [ACA] currently outnumber supporters (42 percent to 36), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest tracking survey. Public opinion has switched back and forth since the law passed in 2010, and in November, support for the law was 4 percent higher than opposition (43 percent to 39)." (The Hill)


Premium Shock: The Story Isn't As Simple As It Seems
"So does that mean there is NO premium shock to worry about and it's all going to be fine and dandy? No. Some people will pay more and enrollment patterns in the exchanges are a very legitimate source of concern -- particularly with so much political controversy and misinformation still out there. But it's far more complicated than the 'prices are soaring, the sky is falling' story you may be hearing -- and should not be telling." (Association of Health Care Journalists)


Unfunded Future Medical Bills for California Retirees
"It isn't just the potential $500 billion state public-employee pension debt that threatens California's fiscal future. Also underfunded is the promised medical care for those retirees. According to a recent report by state Controller John Chiang, California has 'an actuarial accrued liability of $63.85 billion' for these retiree medical costs over 30 years. That's up $1.7 billion from the previous year." (Orange County Register)


Unnecessary Regulations Increase Prescription Drug Costs
"As drug coverage has become widespread, so have calls to impose additional regulations on drug plans and the firms that manage them. In the guise of protecting consumers, there are frequent calls for state and federal lawmakers to enact laws that hamper efficient management of prescription drug benefits. These efforts are short-sighted." (John C. Goodman, Greg Scandlen and Devon M. Herrick, via National Center for Policy Analysis)


No Competition: The Price of a Highly Concentrated Health Care Market
"[C]ommercial insurers cannot contain costs because the pricing mechanism for medical services is broken. When it comes to health care, competition simply isn't working.... On average, private insurers pay 25 percent more than Medicare for physician services and 30 percent more for hospital care.... [B]oth public and private sector payment rates for doctors in America are far and away the highest in the world[.]" (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)


Who Is Insured or Not Insured by Government?
"One of the many dilemmas surrounding federal health care policies is that the government only partially insures most people when it subsidizes health care, but we want to pretend that once 'insured' we are all entitled to the maximum health care available. This puts a lot of weight on the definition of 'insurance' and creates misunderstandings about what the government does and does not do." (Urban Institute)


How Can Congress Improve the FMLA? Let Us Count the Ways
"[E]mployee advocates are calling for a broad expansion of the FMLA that would allow for paid leave or broader coverage ... [The] employer community has called upon Congress and the Department of Labor to fix the ills of the FMLA ... [which is] flawed in three fundamental areas: the definition of a serious health condition, the use of intermittent leave and the medical certification process." (FMLA Insights)

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