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April 11, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Sr. 401(k)/DC Plan Admin Specialist
for CUNA Mutual Group in WI

Account Executive II - Retirement Services
for Principal Financial Group in WA

401(k) Recordkeeping Specialist
for Pen-Cal Administrators, Inc. in CA

Relationship Manager
for Aspire Financial Services in CO

Conversion Consultant
for Aspire Financial Services in FL

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Webcasts and Conferences

Understanding the Department of Laborís Changes to Form 5500 to Reflect the New MEWA Rules
Nationwide on April 16, 2013 presented by Thompson Interactive

Taxation of Fringe Benefits and Todayís Hot Issues
Nationwide on April 17, 2013 presented by Thompson Interactive

Mastering New Compliance and Best Practices for Hiring People with Disabilities
Nationwide on April 30, 2013 presented by Thompson Interactive

Building and Implementing Effective Telework Policy for Employees
Nationwide on May 9, 2013 presented by Thompson Interactive

HealthEquity Hosts Free Webinar Series: The Effects of Health Care Reform on Health Savings Accounts
Nationwide on April 17, 2013 presented by HealthEquity

"401(k) Plan Workshop 2013: Tax Reform and the 401(k) Plan" - Chicago
in Illinois on May 10, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

"401(k) Plan Workshop 2013: Tax Reform and the 401(k) Plan" - Cleveland
in Ohio on May 10, 2013 presented by SunGard Relius

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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[Guidance Overview]

Worksheet for Determining 'Applicable Large Employer' Status
"An Applicable Large Employer is an employer that employs an average of 50 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees during the preceding calendar year. [This] worksheet provides the basic calculation for determining whether or not an employer is an Applicable Large Employer." (Lindquist & Vennum)


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[Guidance Overview]

Funding Exchange Navigator Programs
"Since federal establishment grants cannot be used to fund state navigator programs, it is possible that some states with state exchanges will not have navigator programs up and running until after their exchanges open and begin to generate their own revenue. It is hoped, however, that the gap in these states will be filled by consumer in-person assisters, who can be paid from establishment grants and should become available this year." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)

Should Paid Sick Leave Be Mandated for All Employees?
"The measure is gaining enough interest nationally that one observer called paid sick leave 'the new must-support issue for ambitious Democrats across the nation,' especially after New York City council speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn conceded on the issue after opposing it for three years. How many more local governments will pass similar laws is unclear." (The Washington Post)

Setup Costs Mount for Health Exchanges
"Setting up the central piece of President Obama's healthcare law has cost the administration more than twice as much as originally intended. [HHS] said in budget documents ... that it expects to spend $4.4 billion by the end of this year on grants to help states set up new insurance exchanges. HHS had estimated last year that the grants would cost $2 billion. The department also is asking Congress for another $1.5 billion to help set up federally run exchanges in states that do not establish their own." (The Hill)

Employer Health Coverage in U.S. on 10-Year Decline
"Nationally, the share of private-sector employers offering coverage fell to about 52 percent in 2011 from 59 percent in 2000 ... Insurance costs increased during the time period, with the average premium for a single employee doubling to $5,081. The average family premium rose 125 percent to $14,447, the report found. Employee take-up of benefits dropped over the study period as well, to 76 percent from 82 percent[.]" (Mark Iwry, Senior Adviser to the Treasury Secretary, via Bloomberg)

Five Things to Know About Getting Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in New York
"1. Fewer New Yorkers get health insurance at work.... 2. Not as many employers offer it.... 3. Fewer workers are signing up.... 4. Insurance premium costs have soared.... 5. Employees are paying twice as much." (Syracuse.com)

Obama's Budget Reductions Focus on Medicare, Medicaid and Military
"The budget would require $57 billion in higher payments by Medicare beneficiaries, cut $306 billion in projected Medicare payments to health care providers and squeeze $19 billion out of Medicaid ... [T]he president [is] requesting $1.5 billion to operate health insurance supermarkets, known as exchanges, in 2014. In addition, the administration plans to raise $450 million by charging insurance companies fees to sell their products to consumers and small businesses in the exchanges. The federal government will have the primary responsibility for operating the exchanges in more than 30 states." (The New York Times)

Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Pregnancy: Health Spending After the ACA Adult-Dependent Mandate
"It has been estimated that 3.1 million young adults have acquired health coverage as a result of this adult-dependent mandate (ADM) provision. Overall, 31 percent of employers enrolled adult-dependent children as a result of the mandate ... The ADM cohort was more likely to incur claims related to mental health, substance abuse, and pregnancy. The ADM cohort was more likely than the comparison group to use retail pharmacies rather than mail order." (EBRI)

Insurers Battle Over Federal Employees' Health Coverage
"UnitedHealthcare said it wants Congress to change the language of a 1959 law that it says gives the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans too much power to dominate the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB).... The Obama administration, in its fiscal 2014 budget proposal released Wednesday, said it favors allowing more plans to compete to cover federal employees. The Blues are fighting the change, saying there is already sufficient competition with 230 plans participating in the program." (Kaiser Health News)

HHS Seeking $1.5B to Run Federal Health Insurance Exchanges
"President Barack Obama's budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 seeks $1.5 billion to run exchanges in the 26 states that have refused so far to set up their own exchange, as well as the seven states that are partnering with the federal government to run an exchange. The budget also assumes that the administration will collect $450 million in user fees, such as those levied on health plans that participate in the federal exchanges. The budget request and anticipated user fees will amount to about $2 billion for the federal exchanges." (Kaiser Health News)

State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
"[H]ealth insurance coverage from employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) 'eroded substantially' from 1999/2000 to 2010/2011 ... The percentage of nonelderly people with ESI declined 10.2 percentage points (PPs) from 69.7 percent to 59.5 percent over the study period while pubic coverage increased 3.1 PPs. While most states saw 'significant declines' in ESI coverage, the range was wide -- from New Hampshire (73.8% coverage) to New Mexico (48.0% coverage). ESI coverage varied by income." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

The Importance of Providing Individual FMLA Notices to Employees
"According to the [federal district] court (not to mention a clear read from the regulations), 'individual notice' must be provided to the employee when he/she requests FMLA-related leave or when the employer acquires knowledge that an employee's leave may be for an FMLA qualifying reason. When the employer fails to do so, it suffers the consequences." [Young v. The Wackenhut Corporation, No. 10-2608 (D.N.J. Feb. 1, 2013) (FMLA Insights)

Love Obamacare? Has the White House Got a Job for You!
"Do you really, really love Obamacare? Have you been searching for an outlet to express that love but live in a state that just doesn't share your passion? Then the Obama administration might just have a job for you! ... If these navigators succeed in their outreach, the [ACA] might end up reaching many more people than the CBO estimated... On the flip side, a lackluster performance by these navigators could mean Obamacare doesn't hit its coverage targets." (The Washington Post)

Section 162(m) Regulations from IRS Address Certain Health Insurance Issuers
"Section 162(m)(6) ... was intended to prevent health insurance companies from deriving a tax benefit from using the expected new revenues generated by the sale of minimum required insurance coverage in order to increase executive pay. However, covered health insurance providers will be subject to the new deduction limitation regardless of whether they see a substantial increase in revenues from providing minimum essential coverage and regardless of their current executive pay levels." (McGuire Woods LLP)

Funding to Enroll Uninsured in New Markets Called 'Drop In Bucket'
"The $54 million to hire and train people to help consumers navigate the new marketplaces will be distributed to groups in 33 states based on how many uninsured they have. Texas and Florida, for instance, with almost nine million uninsured, will get up to $14 million." (Kaiser Health News)

Administration Proposes Expanding Eligibility, Simplifying Small Employer Health Care Tax Credit
"The proposal would expand the group of employers who are eligible for the credit to include employers with up to 50 full-time equivalent employees and would begin the phase-out at 20 full-time equivalent employees for taxable years beginning after January 31, 2012. In addition, there would be a change in the coordination of the phase-outs based on average wage and the number of employees (using a formula that is multiplicative rather than additive) so as to provide a more gradual combined phase-out." (Solutions Law Press)

Results of Survey on ACA's Impact on Employer-Sponsored Health Care (PDF)
"Most organizations have moved beyond wait-and-see mode (90%). More than half of organizations are beginning to develop tactics to deal with the implications of reform.... About two-thirds of organizations have analyzed ACA's cost impact (64%). Most are estimating a 3-4% cost increase for next year due to the ACA.... The vast majority of organizations say they plan to continue providing coverage when exchanges open in 2014, primarily to retain and attract talented employees. Less than 1% of all organizations say they definitely will discontinue coverage when exchanges open in 2014." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

U.S. Health Care Providers Having Difficulty Recruiting Experienced IT Workers
"According to an earlier ... survey, health care workers ranked job security, competitive base pay, health care benefits, convenient work location and career advancement opportunities as the primary reasons for accepting an offer of employment with a health care provider. However, in a complementary survey of health care employers, ... with the exception of job security, health care employers did not rank any of these same elements when considering drivers of attraction for IT and Epic-certified employees.... Perhaps most surprisingly, the employers ranked base salary eighth on the overall list of draws for employees." (Towers Watson)

[Opinion]

Obamacare's Essential Health Benefits Regs Create Disparities Among States
"[The Essential Health Benefits regulation] essentially 'grandfathers' all state benefit mandates enacted before December 31, 2011. That means states will pay the additional cost only for any state benefit mandates enacted after 2011. The effect will be disparities among states, as the package of 'essential' benefits will be more generous in some states than in others. Of course, those differences will also be reflected in plan premiums. Yet the amount paid by those receiving Obamacare's exchange subsidies will not vary by state[.]" (The Heritage Foundation)

[Opinion]

On the Anti-Cash Bias in Health Care
"[S]maller medical entities like individual physician practices and stand-alone therapeutic facilities are almost always willing to offer a cash discount. So are hospitals, when approached by firms in the business of arranging cash discounts. ObamaCare rules are designed to replace small health care businesses with large networks run by hospitals or insurers. What will this do to people's ability to negotiate lower prices using cash payment?" (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

[Opinion]

Actuarial Study Makes Headlines About 'Rate Shock' But Sows Confusion
"[A recent study] sponsored by the Society of Actuaries ... had this headline number: it will cost insurers nationwide an estimated 32 percent more to cover enrollees in the individual insurance market. That's not a 32 percent increase in the premiums that consumers in the individual market will pay. It's an estimate of the overall increase in costs that insurers will pay due to factors such as some higher-cost uninsured people entering the market." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of the White House's Proposed 2014 budget
"Here's President Obama's $3.77 trillion budget proposal for 2014. The plan proposes new [spending] in infrastructure and education, major new taxes for the wealthy, and reforms aimed at reducing the cost of Social Security and Medicare." (The Washington Post)

Eighth Circuit Clarifies Scope of ERISA's Application to Severance Arrangements
"[T]here was no evidence that the agreement amended an ERISA plan, and in fact, the agreement concerned post-termination payments that could only occur when Schieffer was no longer a participant in the company's plans.... Although the benefits were measured by the ERISA plans, ... [the employer] had not indicated that the funds came from anywhere other than its general assets ... [and] had not alleged that the payment would affect the administration of its ERISA plans or 'threaten ERISA's goal of uniformity in the administration of plan benefits'.... [The court concluded that the] arbitration demand did not seek benefits 'due under' an ERISA plan, and the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute. " [Dakota, Minn. & E. R.R. Corp. v. Schieffer (Schieffer II), No. 12-1807, 2013 WL 1235235 (8th Cir. Mar. 28, 2013)] (Benefits Bryan Cave)

Opportunity for Possible FICA Tax Refund on Severance Pay Ends April 15
"Until a final decision in [U.S. v. Quality Stores] has been rendered, taxpayers that have made severance payments in 2009 should file a protective claim for a FICA tax refund no later than April 15, 2013. This protective claim will preserve the taxpayer's right to a refund should the IRS not appeal the decision or should the decision be upheld on appeal." (Benefits Bryan Cave)

Proskauer ERISA Litigation Newsletter, April 2013
"The importance of clear and unambiguous plan language cannot be overstated. The Second Circuit recently applied this well-established principle to conclude that a plan's administrative claims process must clearly state all of the types of claims that must be exhausted in order to prevent participants and beneficiaries from proceeding directly to court." (Proskauer Rose LLP)

DOL Releases Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request
"Highlights of the FY 2014 budget request include: ... [1] Nearly $14 million to combat the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, which deprives workers of benefits and protections to which they are legally entitled and puts law-abiding businesses at a disadvantage against employers who violate the law. [2] An additional $3.4 million ... to support greater enforcement of ... the Family and Medical Leave Act. [3] $5 million for the creation of a State Paid Leave Fund to assist workers who need to take time off to care for a child or other family member. [4] An initiative to encourage companies to fully fund their pension benefits by authorizing the [PBGC] to adjust premiums and take into account the risks that different retirement plan sponsors pose to their retirees. Under the initiative, the PBGC is estimated to save $25 billion over the next decade." (Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Avoid Too Much Specificity in Clawback Policies
"One of our guiding principles to date has been that companies should not put too much effort into fine-tuning a clawback policy at this point, since (i) the issues are many and complicated, and (ii) the SEC and NYSE rules are certain to require a complete rewrite.... By adopting general provisions and referencing the precise terms in DF 954, the Committee (or Board) will have the ability to adjust the meaning and application of its policy as the SEC and the NYSE publish rules." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

Press Releases

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