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March 19, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Marketing and Sales
for National Retirement Services, Inc. in CA

Pension Administrator
for Preferred Pension Planning Corporation in NJ

Client Manager
for Hill, Chesson, & Woody in NC

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Webcasts and Conferences

Taking The Mystery Out Of Retirement Planning Workshop
in Washington on May 7, 2013 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

The World of Plan Audits
in Florida on April 2, 2013 presented by ASPPA Benefits Council (ABC) of North Florida

Abandoned Plans Webcast
Nationwide on April 18, 2013 presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

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[Official Guidance]

Text of Proposed Regs on 90-Day Waiting Period Limitation and Technical Amendments to Certain Health Coverage Requirements Under the ACA
"If, under the terms of the plan, an employee can elect coverage that becomes effective on a date that does not exceed the 90-day waiting period limitation, the coverage complies with the waiting period rules, and the plan or issuer will not be considered to violate the waiting period rules merely because individuals choose to elect coverage beyond the end of the 90-day waiting period.... [B]eing otherwise eligible to enroll in a plan means having met the plan's substantive eligibility conditions ... [T]hese proposed regulations would prohibit requiring otherwise eligible participants and beneficiaries to wait more than 90 days before coverage is effective." (Internal Revenue Service; Employee Benefits Security Administration; Department of Health and Human Services)


[Advert.]

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[Guidance Overview]

Insurance Market Reform: Guaranteed Issue and Insurance Rating (PDF)
"Guaranteeing health coverage to anyone who applies is an important ingredient in getting everyone into the risk pool. As such, insurance companies are stripped of their ability to mitigate moral hazard where individuals wait to purchase insurance when they are sick or in need of medical attention and drop coverage if they recover. Moreover, the collapse and redistribution of rate bands and ratios and the limitation of under writing factors will reshuffle the insurance underwriting deck where the less healthy and older population will likely see their premiums lowered and subsidized by the remaining insureds in the risk pool." (Chao & Company, Ltd.)

[Guidance Overview]

Determining If Your Business Is Subject to the 'Pay or Play' Penalties (PDF)
"Your 'full-time employees' in 2014 for purposes of determining potential penalties are, in some ways, determined differently from your 'full-time employees' in 2013 counted for determining if your business is an 'applicable large employer.' Using this information now, based on your expected 2014 workforce, can help you determine if your business will be subject to the shared responsibility penalties in 2014 and to take action before January 1, 2014." (McDonald Hopkins LLC)

[Guidance Overview]

HIPAA Compliance Update for Employee Benefit Plans
"Health plan sponsors need to review and update the plan's Notice of Privacy Practices ('NPP') to describe certain circumstances in which individual authorization is required ... Health plan sponsors must post the updated NPP by September 23, 2013 (or for plans that do not have a web site, provide it to covered individuals within 60 days of that date)." (Drinker Biddle)

[Guidance Overview]

OSHA Extends Broad Whistleblower Protections to Employees Complaining of ACA Violations
"The interim final rule ... identifies any employee's receipt of tax sharing or a cost-sharing reduction pursuant to PPACA as entitling that employee to whistleblower protection under FLSA.... Notably, there is no time limit defined in the regulations regarding this point, making it conceivable that once an employee receives the cost sharing subsidy ... he or she is by virtue of that receipt in a protected class in perpetuity. Indeed, this literal reading of the statute and regulations could afford such an employee with whistleblower protection throughout his or her lifetime, across multiple employers." (Jenner & Block)


[Advert.]

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A Closer Look at the Slowdown in Health Care Price Inflation
"As would be expected, periods of rising and falling health care price inflation align with rising and falling economy-wide price inflation. It is no accident that the only periods in which health care price inflation dropped below 2 percent are periods in which economy-wide price inflation was also below 2 percent. In this light, the sub-2 percent growth in health care prices in recent months is at least partially explained by sub-2 percent economy-wide inflation." (Altarum Institute)

2013 Global Workplace Health and Wellness Report (PDF)
"Employee health (69%) and engagement and morale (68%) are the key wellness objectives.... 86% of respondents reported lack of time is the main reason employees are not taking part in wellness initiatives.... 95% of organizations stated that they have or plan to have a fully implemented health and wellness strategy, however only 22% of organizations report having one fully implemented." (The Global Corporate Challenge)

ACA Brings New Litigation Risks
"Only in two areas does [the ACA] create direct enforcement remedies for workers to sue employers because their coverage is subpar: ... Discrimination complaints ... [and] Whistleblower retaliation.... [B]ut individuals may sue their employers for shortfalls in compliance with the new law under ERISA's enforcement mechanisms for benefits due under a plan (ERISA Section 502(a)(1)) and relief typically due in equity (ERISA Section 502(1)(c)); discrimination (ERISA Section 510); violations of HIPAA portability rules (ERISA Section 701); and breaches of fiduciary duty requirements, which are described in ERISA Section 404(c)[.]" (Thompson SmartHR Manager)

If You Care About Obamacare, You Should Care About Arkansas
"It's hard to underscore how much Arkansas's simple suggestion -- that it be able to use Medicaid dollars to buy private insurance for the expansion population -- has the potential to change the face of the [ACA]. If [four other states considering the Arkansas approach: Florida, Ohio, Louisiana and Maine] signed onto the Medicaid expansion through the Arkansas option, the Urban Institute estimates that 2.4 million people would gain health insurance coverage." (The Washington Post)

What's It Like Building D.C.'s Obamacare Exchange?
"When asked to describe what it's like to build an insurance market from scratch, D.C. Health Benefits Exchange Executive Director Mila Kofman settled on two words: 'Organized chaos.' Kofman ... can tick off dozens of policy decisions that she and her working groups still need to make, like whether to allow D.C. residents with an employer contribution to shop all health plans -- or a select number." (The Washington Post)

District Court Strikes Down Missouri Law Regulating Contraceptive Coverage
"A federal judge has struck down a Missouri law because it conflicts with a federal mandate for insurers to cover birth control at no additional cost to women.... The law required insurers to issue policies without contraception coverage if individuals or employers objected because of religious or moral beliefs." (Associated Press via The New York Times)

Insurer's Claim for Overpaid Disability Benefits Permitted under ERISA
"In siding with the First and Third Circuits, the Second Circuit in this case adopts a rule that would appear to make it easier for insurers and others to reach specifically identified funds (such as benefits overpayments) for which they assert a lien, even where the funds have been dissipated." (Practical Law Company)

With Private Exchanges, Workers Dump Old Health Care Choices
"Among almost 100,000 employees that enrolled in 2013 health benefits through the [Aon Hewitt private] exchange, 42% chose a plan that cost less and provided fewer benefits than the plan they'd used the previous year. And 26% elected a higher-cost plan with better benefits. For 2012, just 12% of the employees were enrolled in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs). For this year, that figure leaped to 39%." (CFO.com)

Michigan Cities Have $12.7B In Retiree Health Costs
"Michigan cities and townships that provide health care for retired public workers face nearly $13 billion in unfunded costs ... with half setting aside no money to cope with a bill gobbling up more of their budgets.... [Detroit] is not alone in grappling with how to pay promised health benefits to retirees. More than 300 cities, townships and villages -- home to two-thirds of state residents -- face a combined $12.7 billion in unfunded liabilities in the next 30 years." (CBS Detroit)

External Review as an Example of a Nuanced Regulatory Approach
"The initial internal and external review rules were quite strong, expanding on the protections offered by the existing ERISA internal review regulations ... Almost from the beginning, however, the enforcement agencies began to waffle in the face of intense lobbying from insurers and employers ... {E]leven months after the issuance of the initial rules, the implementing agencies released amendments to the interim final rule accompanied by further guidance, which together significantly undermined the consumer protections found in the initial rule." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)

What the U.S. Can Learn From China's Health Care Reform
"The reforms of the 1980s changed health care from being a social good to a commodity. Universal insurance was dismantled, and 900 million people lost coverage overnight. Health care was decentralized to provincial governments, who allowed the market to operate with few restrictions. What's emerged is a fragmented system fraught with inefficiencies and perverse incentives." (The Health Care Blog)

Inpatient Hospital Prices Increased 8.2 Percent Per Year, 2008-2010
"Using claims data from the commercially insured population under 65, the authors developed estimates of price levels and growth rates based on admissions (service), state, and locality. The authors concluded that unadjusted prices for inpatient hospital care rose 8.2 percent per year during the 2008-2010 period." (America's Health Insurance Plans)

Private Health Exchange Empowers Employees to Become More Astute Health Care Consumers
"According to Aon Hewitt's post-enrollment analysis, two-thirds of employees who participated in the corporate exchange said they now had a good understanding of how they share the cost of medical insurance with their employer. When choosing a coverage level, most employees said they based their choice on the desire to choose a plan that offered coverage similar to their current plan and price." (Aon Hewitt)

[Opinion]

Deloitte Health Care Reform Memo, March 18, 2013
"The four big bets [of the ACA] are still the big unknowns.... Will access to health insurance result in expanded access to affordable insurance coverage for 32 million newly insured? ... Will employers choose to pay instead of play long-term? ... Will the states be able to effectively manage and fund their expanded responsibilities? ... Will it reduce costs?" (Deloitte)

[Opinion]

Text of Comments to IRS on Proposed Shared Responsibility Regs (PDF)
"We represent a number of California employers in many diverse industries that are substantially challenged by the proposed regulations, including local government, health care, and public utilities.... We respectfully request that the transition rules in the proposed regulations be extended to accommodate the practical needs of employers and in recognition that these rules require extraordinary change in the way that employers have operated for many decades.... We respectfully propose that the Service establish a voluntary correction program under Section 4980H ... We respectfully propose an alternative, and optional, method of measurement [of full time status for new variable hour hires.]" (Hanson Bridgett LLP)

[Opinion]

Text of Comments to IRS on Proposed ACA Regs on Employer Shared Responsibility
"[This comment letter is] submitted on behalf of two separate Fortune 500 companies [whose] group health plans ... have in excess of 400,000 employees and covered dependents ... Crediting Hours of Service for a period of time for which no duties are performed should be subject to a maximum crediting period.... [The authors] suggest that the Service apply a maximum time period of six months, after which Hours of Service no longer are required to be credited." (Kilpatrick Townsend)

[Opinion]

Obamacare: Projected Premium Increases by State
"Many Obamacare advocates attempt to refute these premium increases by pointing to Obamacare's generous subsidy scheme. But as the Hoover Institution's Daniel Kessler points out, 'This argument is misleading. It fails to consider that the money for the subsidies has to come from somewhere. Although debt-financed transfer payments may make insurance look cheaper, they do not change its true social cost.'" (The Heritage Foundation)

[Opinion]

ERISA Industry Committee Says Shared Responsibility Regs Need Revisions
"ERIC emphasizes that members of a controlled group should not be required to aggregate the hours of service that workers provide for more than one member of the controlled group.... ERIC also recommends the Agencies clarify that the proposed regulations would not apply once an employee has left employment.... The Agencies are also encouraged to clarify that the lookback periods used to determine whether a worker is a full-time employee should only apply to individuals who do not work on a fixed schedule, that is, 'variable hour employees.'" (The ERISA Industry Committee)

[Opinion]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Submits Comments on ACA Shared Responsibility Regs (PDF)
"The Chamber is concerned about several substantive components of the NPRM such as: (1) the challenge for employers to comply with a requirement that still remains opaque; (2) the challenge for employers in states that choose not to expand Medicaid eligibility; (3) the importance of encouraging wellness program participation when assessing affordability; (4) the difficulty in reflecting different industries standards as to what constitutes a seasonal worker; and (5) liability questions for businesses following corporate transactions. We believe that Treasury and IRS need to clarify certain other rules and as well as how the rules will apply in some special situations." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Abject Dismissal of a Proxy Disclosure Lawsuit May Augur Demise of a Novel Plaintiff Bar Business Model
"Judge James Kleinberg of the Santa Clara County Superior Court in California recently ... dismissed in its entirety a proxy disclosure lawsuit that alleged Symantec's directors had breached their fiduciary duties by, among other things, not disclosing certain information related to compensation consultant compensation, peer group company selection criteria and equity compensation metrics.... [T]he wholesale rejection by Judge Kleinberg of the fundamental underpinnings of the recent wave of proxy disclosure lawsuits may halt in its tracks future similar claims against Silicon Valley-based companies, as well as serving as a guidepost for jurists in other parts of the country." [Natalie Gordon vs. Symantec, et al. (No. 1-12-CV-231541, Feb. 22, 2013)] (DLA Piper)

Employers Slowly Enrich Programs for Older Workers
"To employers, ... older workers increasingly represent serious bottom-line expense and profitability issues. These financial issues may translate seniors' lifestyle aspirations into some impersonal statistics. But in terms of changing workplace programs and perceptions, dollars and cents may also drive change more quickly and effectively than any set of 'feel good' motivations." (U.S.News and World Report)

Press Releases

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