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May 8, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Qualified Retirement Plan Administrator (401k/DB)
for Compensation Planning Inc. in RI

Director, Account Management - Large Market
for Lincoln Financial Group in IL, IN

Retirement Plan Sales Consultant
for Polycomp Administrative Services, Inc. in CA

401(k)/Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for The Senex Group in CA

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Webcasts and Conferences

What's New in Pensions?
June 17, 2013
(ASPPA Benefits Council Dallas/Ft Worth) in TX

ERISA Pension Plans in 2013: Due Diligence for Hedge and Private Equity Funds - Avoiding the Pitfalls with Alternative Investments for Institutional Investors and Fund Managers
June 5, 2013
(Strafford Publications) WEBCAST

Retirement Security Panel Discussion: Intergenerational Challenges Webcast
May 21, 2013
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans) WEBCAST

ABC of Greater Twin Cities: Full Day Seminar
June 11, 2013
(ASPPA ABC Greater Twin Cities) in MN

South Carolina Business Coalition on Health - 7th Annual Meeting
May 14, 2013
(South Carolina Business Coalition on Health) in SC

Health Care Reform: 2014 Is Just Around The Corner Webinar
May 22, 2013
(Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP) WEBCAST

Private Healthcare Exchanges: Helping Employers Dive in to the Private Exchange Market
July 17, 2013
(Employee Benefit News) in IL

The Affordable Care Act - A Practical Workshop on Employer “Pay or Play” Webcast
May 30, 2013
(McDonald Hopkins) WEBCAST

View All Webcasts and Conferences

We also publish the BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter (free): Subscribe


[Official Guidance]

CMS Releases Medicare Provider Charge Data
"[CMS is releasing data] that show significant variation across the country and within communities in what hospitals charge for common inpatient services ... [including] hospital-specific charges for the more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals that receive Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) payments for the top 100 most frequently billed discharges, paid under Medicare based on a rate per discharge using the Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Group (MS-DRG) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. These DRGs represent almost 7 million discharges or 60 percent of total Medicare IPPS discharges.... Users will be able to make comparisons between the amount charged by individual hospitals within local markets, and nationwide, for services that might be furnished in connection with a particular inpatient stay. Data are being made available in Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) format and comma separated values (.csv) format." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)


Employer healthcare at the crossroads -- where are your benefits headed?

Sponsored by University Conference Services

50+ workshops led by benefits experts prepare you for the challenges of complying with ACA, containing costs, understanding exchanges and more. Exclusively for employers. Earn 16 HRCI recertification credits. Register by May 13 and save $100!

[Official Guidance]

HHS-Developed Risk Adjustment Model Algorithm Instructions (PDF)
"This document provides instructions for the HHS risk adjustment models for the 2014 benefit year. The risk adjustment methodology consists of concurrent risk adjustment models, one for each combination of metal level (platinum, gold, silver, bronze, and catastrophic) and age group (adult, child, infant). This document provides the detailed information needed to calculate risk scores given individual diagnoses. The model instructions are based on the methodology described in the final notice of benefit and payment parameters." [Technical details (XLSX) are at http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/regulations/Files/ra_tables_04_16_2013.xlsx -- Also, an SAS Version of Software (ZIP) is available at http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/regulations/Files/ra-sas-software.zip] (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

[Guidance Overview]

Seasonal Workers and Your Employee Benefit Plans
"For employers planning to ramp up hiring for the summer season [the authors] offer this brief review of the treatment of seasonal employees for purposes of your employee benefit plans, with emphasis on issues under the [ACA].... Remember that temporary and part time employees are counted only for purposes of determining how many FTEs an employer has (and, therefore, will affect the determination of large employer status). They need not, however, be offered health insurance coverage (because they are not full-time employees) and they are not counted in computing the penalty." (Verrill Dana LLP)

Grants to States to Support Health Insurance Rate Review and Increase Transparency in Health Care Pricing
"[CMS] has released the third cycle of Rate Review Grant funding.... The [Funding Opportunity Announcement] is open to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories to develop or enhance their respective rate review programs and/or establish data centers. Only one application per state is permitted, except in a state in which there are two regulating entities, each with a primary responsibility over the regulation of a portion of the private health insurance market. Data centers must be academic institutions or other non-profit organizations, and states may partner with existing data centers or establish new ones. Data centers can be located in the applicant state or in another state." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

What Does Obamacare Mean for Young People?
"Most young people feel like they have years of good health in the bank. They are, as a group, so unlikely to buy insurance that insurance companies dubbed them the young invincibles and in some cases gave up on trying to enroll them in health care plans. Some young adults, inevitably, will be proven wrong in their optimistic evaluations of their health." (HealthyCal)


ACI's 2nd National Employee Benefit Plans Forum - May 30-31 - New York, NY

Sponsored by ACI (American Conference Institute)

ACI is pleased to present its 2nd National Advanced Compliance and Benchmarking Forum on Minimizing Legal Risks in the Design, Implementation & Administration of EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS. Discount code BEN200 for BenefitsLink readers.

Limiting the Tax Exclusion of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums
"$264 billion in new revenues would be raised from 2014-2023 by imposing a 75 percentile cap on employer-sponsored health coverage. The policy change would affect public-sector employees to a greater extent than private-sector employees. The cap would lead to a tax increase for 15.7 percent of people who file taxes in 2014 and 20.0 percent in 2023." (Urban Institute via Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

The Path to Paid Sick-Leave Laws
"The Healthy Families Act -- introduced in Congress every year since 2004 -- is back on the table, with support for paid sick leave laws growing. The bill's passage, while uncertain in 2013, could eventually expand on FMLA in ways HR should make note of[.]" (Human Resource Executive Online)

Collective Bargaining Agreements: Creating Vested Retiree Medical Benefits
"Citing a line of cases addressing the vesting of retiree benefits ... the [federal district] court held that the CBAs' promised 'continuance' of the healthcare coverages employees had 'at the time of retirement' and that such coverages 'shall be continued thereafter' for retirees, their spouses and eligible dependents and that any changes could be made 'by mutual agreement between the Company and the Union' was unambiguous language demonstrating the plaintiffs' right to vested lifetime retirement healthcare coverage." (Benefits Bryan Cave)

HIPAA Rules, Outdated Tech Cost U.S. Hospitals $8.3B Per Year
"Clinicians ... estimated that only 45% of each workday is spent with patients; the remaining 55% is spent communicating and collaborating with other clinicians and using EMRs and other clinical IT Systems.... It now takes, on average, 102 minutes to be discharged. About 37 minutes is spent waiting for doctors, specialists or others to respond with information necessary for a patient's release.... [The] lengthy discharge process costs the U.S. hospital industry more than $3.189 billion a year in lost revenue, with another $5 billion lost through decreased doctor productivity and the use of pagers and other outdated communications technologies." (Computerworld)

Hospital Billing Varies Wildly, According to CMS Data
"Government officials said that some of the variation might reflect the fact that some patients were sicker or required longer hospitalization. Nonetheless, the data is likely to intensify a long debate over the methods that hospitals use to determine their charges." (The New York Times)

One Hospital Charges $8,000 While Another Charges $38,000
"Experts attribute the disparities to a health system that can set prices with impunity because consumers rarely see them -- and rarely shop for discounts. Although the government has collected this information for years, it was housed in a bulky database that researchers had to pay to access." (The Washington Post)

North Carolina Bill Challenges Dominance of Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC
"[The legislation specifies] that no contract with a healthcare provider may '[p]rohibit, or grant a health insurance carrier an option to prohibit, the provider from contracting with another health insurance carrier to provide health care services at a rate that is equal to or lower than the payment specified in the contract.' The bill also prohibits a health insurer from requiring a provider to disclose, directly or indirectly, the provider's contractual rates with another health insurance carrier." (Healthcare Reform Digest)

Monthly National Health Expenditure Estimates through March 2013 (PDF)
"National health expenditures (NHE) in March 2013 grew 3.8% relative to March 2012. The March NHE growth rate was 0.3% greater than gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the same period. The health spending share of GDP was 18.1% in March, up from 16.4% at the start of the recession in December 2007.... Spending in March, year-over-year, increased in all major categories over the past year except for nursing home care, which experienced a slight decline. Home health care grew the fastest at 8.8%." (Altarum Institute)

Health Care Price Growth Continues Downward Trend in March (PDF)
"Health care prices in March 2013 were 1.6% higher than in March 2012, one-tenth below the February rise, and the 2nd lowest reading since December 1997's 1.3% figure. The 12-month moving average at 1.9% is the lowest since 1.8% recorded in October 1998. Year-over-year, hospital prices -- a key health price index driver -- rose to 2.7% in March (from 2.6% in February)." (Altarum Institute)

Harkin Withdraws Hold on Tavenner's Nomination as CMS Chief; Reid Says Timing for Vote Is Unclear
"Sen. Tom Harkin Tuesday removed the hold he had placed on the nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to head [CMS] and said he would no longer stand in the way of a Senate vote despite actions by the Obama administration that he said violate 'both the letter and the spirit' of the 2010 health care law. But after Harkin announced his decision on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was unclear when the Senate would vote on the nomination." (Kaiser Health News)

CalPERS Reviews Health Enrollment Rosters for Ineligible Dependents
"CalPERS) has begun a Dependent Eligibility Verification (DEV) project to validate that only eligible dependents are covered under CalPERS health care plans. As part of the project, active and retired health plan subscribers are encouraged to remove ineligible dependents voluntarily from their coverage during the current amnesty period, which runs now through June 30, 2013. Beginning in July, all subscribers will be required to provide supporting documentation to verify that their dependents are eligible for CalPERS health benefits." (California Public Employees' Retirement System)

Supplemental Coverage Associated with More Rapid Spending Growth for Medicare Beneficiaries
"[This] is the first empirical study to investigate whether supplemental Medicare coverage is associated with higher rates of spending growth over time.... [S]upplemental insurance coverage was associated with significantly higher rates of overall spending growth. Specifically, employer-sponsored and self-purchased supplemental coverage were associated with annual total spending growth rates of 7.17 percent and 7.18 percent, respectively, compared to 6.08 percent annual growth for beneficiaries without supplemental coverage." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute)

ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, May 2, 2013 (PDF)
Update on developments in federal and state health care reform legislation and regulations, including summaries of recent announcements and regulatory activity by HHS, CCIIO, IRS and CMS. (ML Strategies, LLC)

U.S. Hospitals Quietly Deport Hundreds Of Undocumented Immigrants
"Days after they were badly hurt in a car accident, [two immigrants from Mexico] lay unconscious in an Iowa hospital while the American health care system weighed what to do with [them]. The men had health insurance from jobs at one of the nation's largest pork producers. But neither had legal permission to live in the U.S., nor was it clear whether their insurance would pay for the long-term rehabilitation they needed.... When the men awoke, they were more than 1,800 miles away in a hospital in Veracruz, on the Mexican Gulf Coast. Hundreds of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally have taken similar journeys through a little-known removal system run not by the federal government trying to enforce laws but by hospitals seeking to curb high costs." (The Huffington Post)

Veterans Have Unusual Choice Thanks to Health Exchanges
"Veterans who get their health care through the VA system don't have to buy any extra coverage to satisfy the that they have insurance starting Jan. 1. Still, if they want to, they can sign up for coverage on the state-based marketplaces, also called exchanges, to supplement their VA coverage. However, veterans who are enrolled in VA health care won't be eligible for premium tax credits on the exchanges, Treasury officials said. Those subsidies will be available to people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level to help make coverage more affordable." (National Public Radio)

Obamacare Springs New, Expensive Contractor Misclassification Penalty
"The added incentive to classify workers as independent contractors combined with increased enforcement by the IRS and DOL is a dangerous cocktail for employers. The inherent danger in misclassifying employees as independent contractors grows exponentially when the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, 2014 -- that's when the shared responsibility requirement will kick in. At that point, the penalty for misclassification could go far beyond paying the now standard-fare IRS and DOL fines and enter the waters of uber-expensive Obamacare fines." (HRBenefits Alert)

Dependent Eligibility Audits Can Cut Excess Costs
"When a proactive audit is conducted for a company, auditors may find as many as 10 percent of a company's plan participants are no longer eligible. Simply removing ineligible participants can save a company thousands if not millions of dollars, depending on its size, and it often only takes a 1 percent discovery to pay for the cost of the audit, making the return on the investment a smart business decision for a company's bottom line." (Idaho Business Review)


ERIC Urges EEOC to Adopt Rules that Foster Workplace Wellness Programs
"ERIC believes that an effective workplace wellness program is one of the few programs that can reduce future health care costs while simultaneously providing tangible benefits to employees and employers alike.... Among ERIC's key recommendations is for the EEOC to make clear that wellness incentives do not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).... ERIC urged the Commission to issue guidance making clear that a wellness program operated in compliance with the HIPAA standards also will satisfy the ADA." (The ERISA Industry Committee)


Some Thoughts on Medicare Reform Options
"At a time when our politicians have decided to open discussions on reducing government spending in Medicare, it likely is no coincidence that this cluster of articles on ways of reforming the financing of Medicare appears in the leading journal of health policy -- Health Affairs. But beware; the thrust of most of the articles should raise our concerns." (Physicians for a National Health Program)


Proposed Medicaid Per Capita Cap Would Shift Costs to States and Undermine Key Part of Health Reform
"A per capita cap would jeopardize successful implementation of the [ACA]. The law's Medicaid expansion is a good financial deal for states; the federal government will pay nearly all of the cost. But a per capita cap designed to produce federal savings would require states to bear more -- possibly a great deal more -- of the expansion's cost. States would almost certainly receive less federal funding for each newly eligible beneficiary than under current law." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)


190 Million Hours and Counting: Obamacare Burden Keeps Growing and Growing
"What could be done in 189,822,836 hours? Mount Rushmore, which took 14 years to build, could be constructed 1,547 times. Halley's comet, seen from Earth once every 76 years, could be spotted 285 times. The Empire State building, which took 7 million man hours to build, could be constructed 27 times." (Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee)


Does Lack of Health Insurance Kill?
"The results from the Oregon Experiment ... show that extending Medicaid to low-income adults did not improve basic clinical measures of health. Given that, it is a bit hard to see how being uninsured can cause 45,000 premature deaths every year -- a figure rivaling the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. That's the number physicians for a National Health Program say die prematurely in America due to a lack of health insurance. The Oregon study results probably did not surprise those who have been paying attention to the serious academic literature, however." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)


England's National Health Services Offers Future Vision of Obamacare
"From 2005 to 2012, British hospital emergency room visits rose from 18 million to 22 million -- a 22 percent increase in only 7 years, a period during which the population grew by only 4 percent. This should concern supporters of ObamaCare who claim the health care mandate will reduce the number of hospital emergency room visits and lower the national cost of health care. The increased visits in Britain are due to fewer physicians, an aging population and increased patient demand, all problems America is currently facing." (National Center for Policy Analysis)


Almost Any Health Cost Is Catastrophic If You're Poor
"Those who benefit from Medicaid have low incomes. What does catastrophic coverage mean for them? How much out of pocket spending should we ask of a severely ill American living below or near the poverty line? And while if you have more skin in the game you would likely reduce spending and wasteful care, you would also reduce valuable, health-protective care, since studies have shown that patients cannot tell the difference." (The New York Times)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Maryland to End Benefits for Its Employees' Domestic Partners
"With eleven states, the District of Columbia, and three Native American tribes having legalized same-gender marriage, employers that have domestic partner benefits are increasingly reexamining their policies in that area. In many instances, domestic partner policies were originally adopted based on a perception that employees with same-gender partners were disadvantaged relative to those with opposite-sex partners, due to the fact that same-gender marriage was not recognized under applicable state law.... Some factors to consider are set forth [in this article]." (Calhoun Law Group)

Slowdown in CEO Compensation in Many (but Not All) Technology Companies
"[T]arget compensation for technology CEOs increased 4.4% at the median, which lagged the 6.4% increase for chief executives across all industries. Increases in pay opportunity were largely attributable to increases in long-term incentives (measured by the grant-date value of stock options, restricted stock and performance plans), which grew by 4.7% among CEOs in the tech sector and 5.6% in general industry." (Towers Watson)

Deferred Share Units Require Canadian Directors to Hold Their Equity Until Retirement (PDF)
"The unintended effect of [deferred share units('DSUs')] (a hold until retirement obligation) may become an issue for some board members. The only way for directors to monetize DSUs is to resign from the Board, which the vast majority of directors would be very reluctant to do. Companies should consider whether to provide alternative forms of equity compensation (market purchased shares or treasury [restricted share units]) for directors who have met their share ownership requirements." (Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC)

Early Vote Outcomes Show Shareholders Continue Their Overwhelming Support for Say-on-Pay Proposals (PDF)
"Thus far, of the 229 Russell 3000 companies that have reported vote results on [management 'say on pay' (MSOP)] proposals, only 5 companies have failed to receive majority support.... Over three-fourths of these Russell 3000 companies have received at least 90% shareholder support for their MSOP proposals, while approximately 3.5% of these companies received shareholder support ranging from 50% to 70%[.]" (Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC)

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