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March 25, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

401(k) Plan Administrator
for Asperia in MA

Pension Actuary
for Asperia in MA

for Benetech, Inc. in ANY STATE

Qualified Plan Administrator
for DST Systems, Inc. in MO

Director, Negotiated Benefits Department
for United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union in DC

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Webcasts and Conferences

Employee Plan Compliance Resolution Systems (EPCRS) 2013
Nationwide on June 21, 2013 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

2013 403(b) Update
Nationwide on April 10, 2013 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

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[Guidance Overview]

Proposed Guidance Issued on 90-Day Waiting Period
"The 90-day limit on waiting periods offers slightly more flexibility than the employer mandate. For instance, if an employer's health plan provides that employees will become eligible for coverage 90 days after obtaining a pilot's license, that requirement would comply with the 90-day limit on waiting periods. But, the same employer could be liable under the employer mandate for failing to provide coverage to a full-time employee within three months of hire date. So, employers sponsoring group health plans or contributing to multiemployer plans should confirm that any plan eligibility criteria aligns with both the employer mandate and the 90-day limit on waiting periods." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)


1 Week Left to Get Early Bird Rate on Newest Benefits Conference

Sponsored by Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

Make the right moves with your employee health, wellness & benefits program. Join your peers already registered from Hormel Foods, Perfumania, Safeway, Cheesecake Factory, UCLA and more leading organizations. Register today at Benefitsconf.com

[Guidance Overview]

New Rules on 90-Day Waiting Period Limitation
"[T]he popular eligibility provision under which coverage begins 90 days after the first day of the first month following the date of hire is no longer permissible. The new safe harbor is to ensure that coverage begins no later than 60 days after the first day of the first month following the date of hire.... [T]he 'Certificates of Creditable Coverage' required under Title I of HIPAA will be phased out by 2015, having been made obsolete by the [ACA]'s prohibition on exclusions from coverage due to pre-existing health conditions." (E is for ERISA)

[Guidance Overview]

Overview of Key Tax Provisions in the Affordable Care Act (PDF)
"Many of the provisions under the ACA are now in effect and the individual mandate, health insurance exchanges and employer shared responsibility penalties will become effective in 2014. Given the wide spectrum of affected parties, this Insight provides a summary of certain tax-related provisions under the ACA that will impact employers." (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Clarifies Applicability of Pay or Play to Multiemployer Plans' Contributing Employers
"This relief is notable in part because it applies to all employees for whom the employer is required by the collective bargaining agreement to make contributions, not just those who end up being offered the coverage. In addition, an employer can utilize this relief even if the multiemployer plan's eligibility provisions result in coverage not being offered within three months after employment begins." (Proskauer's ERISA Practice Section Blog)

[Guidance Overview]

New Enforcement and Reporting Rules Applicable to Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements
"The regulations provide that a cease and desist order may apply to MEWAs and to persons having custody or control of assets of the MEWA, authority over management of an MEWA, or any role in the transaction of an MEWA's business. Thus, a cease and desist order or summary seizure order could apply to a third party administrator." (Bloomberg BNA)


SouthWest Benefits Association 38th Annual Conference - May 8-10 - New Orleans

Sponsored by SouthWest Benefits Association

Staying up to date in the world of benefits has never been more critical. Changes in regulations, technology and the economy continue to influence benefits structures. Participation in the SWBA Conference is the most cost-effective way to stay informed.

Like CVS, More Employers Penalize Workers That Snub Wellness Exams
"New data ... shows nearly 60 percent of U.S. employers plan to 'impose consequences on participants who do not take appropriate actions for improving their health' in the next few years such as completing a health risk questionnaire.... Already five percent of companies that offer incentives for participating in a program that helps workers become aware of their health status offer 'incentives in the form of a consequence' if they don't take a health risk questionnaire or participate in a 'biometric screening,' which generally includes a blood test for cholesterol or a glucose measurement." (Forbes)

Incentives Play Important Role in Employers' Efforts to Improve Workforce Health and Performance
"Aon Hewitt's survey of nearly 800 large and mid-size U.S. employers representing more than 7 million U.S. employees found that 83 percent offer employees incentives for participating in programs that help employees become more aware of their health status.... Of the 83 percent of employers that offer incentives for these types of programs: 79 percent offer incentives in the form of a reward, 5 percent offer incentives in the form of a consequence, 16 percent offer a mix of both rewards and consequences." (Aon Hewitt)

PPACA and Wellness Plans: The CVS Model
"The reward, not paying the $600, is the incentive to participate in the program and since the reward is not based on a particular outcome (such as losing weight or lowering BMI), it avoids the HIPAA non-discrimination concerns that outcome based programs face. Of course it has caused quite an uproar because the assumption is that it penalizes employees for being overweight, but this is not actually the case. It merely provides an incentive to employees to find out how they can be more healthy, including the fact that they might need to lose weight." (Fox Rothschild LLP)

No Simple Procedure: Putting Affordable Care Act Into Practice
"Welcome to the eye of the Obamacare storm. This year represents a deceptively calm interlude -- after the partisan war whoops of 'repeal and replace,' and before 2014, when millions of Americans are supposed to get covered under the health care law. It's a year of nuts and bolts, trying to get many complicated moving parts in place for a policy that large swaths of the country still oppose." (Politico)

First-Dollar Contraceptives Mandate Is Obamacare's Most Commented-Upon Regulation
"One provision [of the ACA] has engendered more controversy than any other: The requirement that contraceptives be covered without co-payment has drawn more than 147,000 public comments ... That is more than any other regulatory proposal on any subject, health care or otherwise, the non-profit finds. To put that in perspective, the second-most commented on health care regulation trailed by over 100,000 comments, receiving 4,700 responses. Eighty-nine percent of all federal rules ... get fewer than 100 responses." (The Washington Post)

The Articulation Effect of Government Policy: Health Insurance Mandates Versus Taxes
"[The authors] document the controversy over the ACA's insurance mandate provision ... Pre-controversy, articulating the policy as a mandate, rather than a financially equivalent tax, increased probability of insurance purchase by 10.6 percentage points -- an effect comparable to a $1000 decrease in annual premiums. After the controversy, the mandate is no more effective than the tax.... [H]ow a policy is articulated affects behavior and that persuasion and public opinion management can help achieve policy objectives at lower cost." (National Bureau of Economic Research; purchase required for full document)

Undocumented Immigrants Would Have to Wait Years for Government-Paid Health Care
"Obama's plan would have immigrants wait at least eight years before they qualify for health benefits. A Congressional plan spearheaded by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona pushes the wait to at least 10 years. Some experts believe both scenarios would create an interim period in which even wider gaps would develop between the haves and have-nots of health care." (The Press-Enterprise)

Geographic Value Index Won't Fix Healthcare Cost Variation
"CMS asked the 20-person [Institute of Medicine] committee to recommend how Medicare Parts A, B, and C payments should include a geographic value index depending on spending and value in those regions. 'These preliminary observations suggest that a geographic value index would reward low-value providers in high-value regions and punish high-value providers in low-value regions,' the committee said. The issue is a critical one, because according to one report ... 'Medicare spending would drop by as much as 29% if practices of low-cost, high-quality regions were adopted nationwide, significantly improving healthcare for Medicare beneficiaries.'" (HealthLeaders Media)

Employers to Increase Pressure on Doctors to Justify Fees
"[E]mployers want to see more doctors in plans that, for example, group physicians based on efficiency and quality metrics so that the onus is on employees to determine whether they want to pay even more out of pocket to see physicians who aren't meeting those marks. But the idea is not to punish doctors merely based on cost, [said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health]. Companies have 'learned more about what's driving costs and increasing quality,' she said. 'They've become more sophisticated about looking at solutions.'" (American Medical News)

Connecticut Races to Reach Uninsured, Open Health Insurance Marketplace
"Officials working for Access Health CT, created under the federal health law, have collected names of more than 1,300 people needing coverage at recent town-hall meetings across the state. This spring and summer, they plan to use booths at festivals and street fairs to gather thousands more. Come fall, they'll also pay community groups and small businesses, such as barbers and beauticians, in New Haven, Bridgeport and other cities with high uninsured rates to reach out to people and sign them up for coverage on the spot." (Kaiser Health News)

What's Next for Employment-Based Health Benefits? (PDF)
24 data-rich presentation slides. "9% of employers [are] interested in providing employees with a fixed-dollar subsidy to purchase coverage on their own ... 16% [are] very confident & 37% [are] somewhat confident [that] exchanges will provide a viable alternative to employer-sponsored coverage for retirees in 2014 or 2015 ... 18.8% of employers will consider terminating group health plan and pay penalties in 2014[.]" (EBRI)

Bill Aims to Curb Rising Prescription Drug Costs of Federal Employees Health Plan
"Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., has proposed a bill to ... [cap] prescription drug prices paid by the [Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)] and [provide] stronger guidance for negotiators. Currently, individual health plans contract with pharmacy benefit managers, who negotiate with drug manufacturers and pharmacies on behalf of their enrollees. Lynch said FEHBP participants are paying 15 percent to 45 percent more for their prescription drugs than participants in other federal programs, including the Veterans Affairs Department's, and Medicare and Medicaid." (GovExec.com)

The Effects of the ACA on the Franchise Industry (PDF)
"Industries that have traditionally offered the greatest opportunities to entry -- level workers -- leisure and hospitality, restaurants -- will be particularly hard -- hit by the new law.... The $2,000 penalty will amount to 15 percent of average annual earnings in the food and beverage industry and 9 percent in retail trade.... With higher -- skill jobs, employers can offer the required benefits and pay for them by adjusting the wage. But low -- wage jobs in the restaurant and retail sectors leave little room for wage reductions without violating federal minimum wage law. Consequently, firms will have an added incentive to become more automated, or machinery -- intensive -- and employ fewer workers." (Hudson Institute)


How the Media Portrayed the CVS Wellness Program -- and Got It Wrong
"[W]ellness financial incentives are commonplace and have been around a long time. And if that is how the media had described the CVS program, it's doubtful anyone would have even paid any attention to it. Unfortunately, that's not how the media ran with the story.... ABC's Good Morning America segment was emblazoned with the headline, 'Who's Watching Your Weight -- CVS Employees Required to Disclose Weight.' Their website ran a similar headline, 'CVS Pharmacy Wants Workers' Health Information, or They'll Pay a Fine.' Those headlines are provocative -- but they're completely misleading." (The Health Care Blog)


Workplace Wellness Programs Should Be Encouraged, Not Attacked
"In addition to preventing and managing chronic disease, wellness programs can generate significant savings. According to a recent study ... wellness programs have an average return on investment of $3.27 for medical cost savings and $2.73 for absenteeism reduction. These savings can be used to pay employees higher wages, invest in further adapting benefits to specific employee population needs, and create more jobs." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)


AMA Supports Georgia Insurance Commissioner's Defense of Prompt-Pay Law
"The [amicus curiae brief filed by the] American Medical Association (AMA) and the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) ... in the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal, argues the trial court erred in concluding that [ERISA] exempts third-party administrators from accountability to Georgia's prompt payment law. The AMA and MAG urged the federal appeals court to lift the injunction and declare that Georgia's prompt payment law is not preempted by ERISA, or remand the case so the ERISA preemption issues can be properly addressed in court." (American Medical Association)


Obamacare Cost Estimates Coming Into Focus
"The first estimate in 2010 pegged the gross cost at $898 billion from 2010 to 2019. But this projection was deceptive, because it included only six years of spending on these provisions, since they don't begin until 2014. However, CBO's latest estimate in February 2013 provides a more accurate cost projection, finally encompassing 10 years of full spending. The 11-year estimate places spending on these provisions at $1.85 trillion from 2013 to 2023. It is likely that these costs will continue to increase in the future, as will the tax provisions that help pay for this new spending." (The Heritage Foundation)


Why Only Business Can Save America from the Health Care Industry
"It is easy to understand how the health care industry manipulated the rules of publicly financed programs like Medicare and Medicaid. A larger mystery is business' passive acquiescence to explosive health plan premiums, which have become its largest and most unpredictable cost burden. Why haven't America's business leaders united to be a counterweight to the health care industry's massive influence?" (The Health Care Blog)


A Health Care Shibboleth: Why Is U.S. Health Care So Expensive?
"'We spend far more on health care than other peer countries yet have worse outcomes. Why is U.S. health care so expensive?' ... [This statement] occurs often, including by knowledgeable people and health-related institutions. However, it's a fallacy because it confuses health care with population health." (The Health Care Blog)


The Only Ones Who Misunderstand Obamacare More Than Its Detractors Are Its Supporters
"[A recent article] notes an apparent negative correlation between the popularity of certain provisions of the law and public awareness of those provisions. If only more people knew about the good stuff in ObamaCare -- you know, the subsidies to seniors and the provisions forcing insurers to cover the sick -- more people would like it. But the polls showing public support for those provisions don't ask respondents whether they think the benefits of those provisions are worth the costs. They only ask about the benefits. Since none of those provisions is a benefits-only proposition, those polls tell us essentially nothing." (Cato Institute)


Obamacare's Most Popular Provisions Are Its Least Well Known
"The argument of Obamacare's advocates has always been that it will become more popular in 2014, when it begins rolling out its benefits. And that remains likely. But pressing against that prediction is the fact that it will also become less popular as implementation leads to lots of stories about where the law is failing and what it could be doing better." (The Washington Post)


Selling Private Health Insurance Will Not Strengthen Democracy
"Health system planning in the U.S. is increasingly based upon maximizing corporate profits, consolidating financial control, and otherwise enhancing corporate interests. It is based less and less upon individual and community health needs. Despite its modest benefits, the ACA does not resolve these problems. In many ways it exacerbates them." (Physicians for a National Health Program)


HR Policy Association Submits Comments on Proposed Employer Penalty Regulations Under the ACA
"Our comments noted that in order to maintain the current system of employer-sponsored health coverage, it is imperative that employers retain considerable discretion in structuring their workforces and significant flexibility in designing their health insurance offerings without being subject to overly prescriptive rules, the violation of which could trigger substantial tax penalties." (HR Policy Association)


Text of Business Roundtable Letter Supporting Jobs & Premium Protection Act
"Business Roundtable CEOs consistently cite rising medical care costs as their number-one cost pressure. These costs are inhibiting job creation and damaging our ability to compete in global markets.... Imposing a tax on health care insurers will do nothing to improve the efficiency or quality of the health care system and will simply be passed on to consumers, causing their health care costs to increase without adding value or improving patients' health." (Business Roundtable)


Commonwealth Fund Report Ignores Health Plans' Efforts to Improve Patient Care
"There is broad recognition that health care costs continue to rise at an unsustainable rate. But the data are very clear that soaring medical costs -- not health plans' administrative costs -- are driving health care cost growth.... Despite the challenges created by the MLR, health plans are continuing to lead the way on delivery system reform and quality improvement." (America's Health Insurance Plans)


Statement by the President on the Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act
"Already, millions of seniors are saving $600 a year on their prescription drugs. Millions of young people have been able to stay on their family's health plan until age 26.... Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men.... Later this year, millions of Americans will finally have the opportunity to buy the same kind of health care Members of Congress give themselves." (The White House)


Statement by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman on Third Anniversary of ACA
"Three years later, American families and businesses are facing the tough and costly realities of ObamaCare's 'greatest hits,' a record that includes tunes like higher health insurance premiums, losing the health plan you have and like and employers being forced to cut wages, limit hiring or reduce the size of their business. There is a better way." (U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Treasury/IRS Notice 2013-22: Public Comment Invited on Recommendations for 2013-2014 Guidance Priority List (PDF)
"The Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy and the Service use the Guidance Priority List each year to identify and prioritize the tax issues that should be addressed through regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices, and other published administrative guidance.... Taxpayers may submit recommendations for guidance at any time during the year. Please submit recommendations by May 1, 2013, for possible inclusion on the original 2013-2014 Guidance Priority List." (Internal Revenue Service)

BofA's Executives Must Hold Stock Longer under New Pay Policy
"Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Brian Moynihan will need to hold shares likely worth millions of dollars for at least a year after he retires, under a new compensation policy that the bank instituted following investor pressure. The new compensation policy also requires some other top executives to keep a minimum number of shares of the bank at least until they retire ... Previously, Moynihan, 53, only needed to hold some stock in the company until retirement, while other top executives did not have such a holding period requirement." (Reuters)

'Pay for Performance' by Executives No Longer a Punchline
"More than half of the compensation awarded to 51 CEOs last year was tied to their companies' financial or stock-market performance, according to a preliminary review of proxy statements ... In most cases, the companies must hit specified targets for the CEO to receive the promised money or equity." (The Wall Street Journal)

Seven Principles for Pay for Performance
"Corporate secretaries and corporate counsel would be well served to think about the principles with which they want to report pay for performance alignment, try to have some consistency from year to year, try to make it easy for the investors to follow it and make it easy for the investors to derive the calculations based on the reporting of the amount earned[.]" (Corporate Secretary)

Tackling Concerns of Independent Contractors in the Workforce
"[T]he Freelancers Union is one of the nation's fastest-growing labor organizations, with more than 200,000 members ... [It] doesn't bargain with employers, but it does address what is by far these workers' No. 1 concern, by providing them with affordable health insurance.... [M]any freelancers ... would rather have regular jobs, but companies will often hire them only as independent contractors. Companies find these workers less painful to dismiss and generally less costly because they rarely receive severance pay or benefits like health insurance or paid vacations." (The New York Times)

Press Releases

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