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May 9, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Director, Plan Administration
for The Newport Group in FL, TX

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for Pension Consulting Firm in CA

Benefits Analyst
for Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in NY

Proposal Writer/Editor
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services in MA

Client Relationship Manager
for The Newport Group in FL, TX

for Spectrum Pension Consultants, Inc. in WA

PT Benefit Enroller Specialist - English and/or Bilingual
for Total Benefit Concepts in ANY STATE

Installation Coordinator
for Ascensus in MN, PA

Account Executive
for Ascensus in PA

Vice President, Relationship Development
for Financial Services in IL

for University of California Office of the President in CA

Section Manager - Retirement Plan Services Participant Communications
for T. Rowe Price in MD

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Webcasts and Conferences

FREE Webinar: What All Employers Need To Know About New Immigration Rules
July 16, 2013
(Davidson Marketing Group -- FutureOffice Network) WEBCAST

FREE Webinar --Employees and Social Media: What Employers Really Need to Know
August 20, 2013
(Davidson Marketing Group -- FutureOffice Network) WEBCAST

Form 8928 and Excise Tax Compliance: Avoiding Penalties Under HCR, COBRA, and Other Rules
May 23, 2013
(Thomson Reuters) WEBCAST

HDHPs and HSAs in Action
May 16, 2013

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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[Official Guidance]

Text of DOL-Provided Model COBRA Notice, Updated for ACA
In Microsoft Word format. Excerpt: "The [DOL] has a model election notice that plans may use to satisfy the requirement to provide the election notice under COBRA. This notice is being revised to help make qualified beneficiaries aware of other coverage options available in the Marketplace. As with the earlier model, in order to use this model election notice properly, the plan administrator must complete it by filling in the blanks with the appropriate plan information. Use of the model election notice, appropriately completed, will be considered by the Department of Labor to be good faith compliance with the election notice content requirements of COBRA." [A redlined version, reflecting the May 2013 changes, is at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/modelelectionnoticeredline.doc] (U.S. Department of Labor)


The Latest on Current Legislation Impacting Your Benefit Plans

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

From election implications to health care reform, attend the Washington Legislative Update, May 20-21 in Washington, DC, to hear from Washington insiders on the regulations, policy initiatives and proposed legislation that impact your benefit plans.

[Official Guidance]

Text of DOL-Provided Model Notices to Employees of Coverage Options Under ACA and Fair Labor Standards Act (PDF)
At the link is a model notice for employers who offer a health plan or some or all employees. A second version for employers who do not offer a health plan is at <http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithoutplans.pdf>. Excerpt: "Employers may use one of these models, as applicable, or a modified version, provided the notice meets the content requirements described [in the Technical Release]." (U.S. Department of Labor)

[Official Guidance]

DOL Technical Release No. 2013-02: Guidance on the ACA/FLSA Notice to Employees of Coverage Options, Including Updated COBRA Model Election Notice
"This Technical Release provides temporary guidance regarding the notice requirement under [Fair Labor Standards Act] section 18B and announces the availability of the Model Notice to Employees of Coverage Options. This Technical Release also provides an updated model election notice for group health plans for purposes of the [COBRA] continuation coverage provisions ... to include additional information regarding health coverage alternatives offered through the Marketplace.... [E]mployers are permitted to use the model notice and/or rely on this temporary guidance prior to the applicability date ... Employers are required to provide the notice to each new employee at the time of hiring beginning October 1, 2013. For 2014, the Department will consider a notice to be provided at the time of hiring if the notice is provided within 14 days of an employee's start date." (U.S. Department of Labor)

[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS FAQs on Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) State Contracts and Extension
"What change did CMS make to the state-based PCIP program and contracts? ... Can a state PCIP continue its program? ... Is CMS dictating a specific funding amount to the state-based PCIPs? ... Why is CMS making this contract change now? ... Must state PCIPs accept this contract change? ... Will state PCIP enrollees lose coverage?" (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

[Guidance Overview]

HHS Issues Guidance on Role of Brokers in Online Insurance Markets
"Federally facilitated marketplaces (FFMs), including state partnership marketplaces (SPMs), will not establish commission schedules or pay commissions directly to brokers and agents ... But [HHS] has established a standard for qualified health plans (QHPs) sold through the FFMs and federally facilitated Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplaces that requires issuers to pay brokers and agents the same compensation for enrolling people in similar plans sold outside of the marketplaces." (Bloomberg BNA)


Best Practices in Medicare Advantage Member Accounting & Reconciliation

Sponsored by Healthcare Education Associates

Hear from top health plans and vendors -- retroactive reconciliation process, spectacular data validation results, and other nuts and bolts processes that can make or break your plan's financial status. July 25-26, Washington DC. Code HMP164 - 10% discount.

[Guidance Overview]

Privately Insured Americans to Learn About the Health Insurance Marketplaces
"From now on, people leaving their jobs will learn that they may be eligible for affordable insurance through the Marketplace. People who purchase coverage through the Marketplace instead of COBRA could cut their premiums by as much as half. They may also qualify for a new kind of tax credit that lowers monthly premiums right away." (Healthcare.gov)

EEOC: Employer Wellness Programs Need Guidance to Avoid Discrimination
"Wellness programs are an increasingly common feature of employee benefits programs, and guidance is needed to avoid violations of federal equal employment opportunity laws, a panel of experts representing business, advocacy groups and providers told the [EEOC] ... The Commission will hold open the Wellness Commission meeting record for 15 days, and invites members of the public, to submit written comments on any issues or matters discussed at the meeting." (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

Medicaid Planning Is Alive and Well
"The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 with its five-year look-back put a big dent in Medicaid planning for long-term care. But there are still plenty of options for preserving income and retaining assets." (Morningstar Advisor)

California Exchange Granted Secrecy
"A California law that created an agency to oversee national health care reforms granted it sweeping authority to conceal spending on the contractors that will perform most of its functions, creating a barrier from public disclosure that stands out nationwide. The degree of secrecy afforded Covered California appears unique among states attempting to establish their own health insurance exchanges under President Barack Obama's signature health law." (Associated Press via InsuranceNewsNet.com)

New Hospital Data Shows Giant Swings in Prices
"'These rates can vary dramatically in ways that can't be easily explained,' [said HHS] Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ... 'Even within cities there can be massive variation in what consumers pay.' But the hospital industry said the prices were misleading and don't reflect what the government or insurers actually pay." (NBC News.com)

Speakers at IRS Hearing Show Strong Disagreement On Employer Mandate Regulations
"Some groups expressed concerns about the costs and impacts on employers, large and small. Other groups wanted the regulations to provide more protection for employees' health insurance benefits." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Middle-Income America's Perspectives on Critical Illness and Financial Security (PDF)
"Middle-income Americans report being generally healthy today, but many are not actively engaged in becoming or staying healthier.... Middle-income Americans of all generations, ethnic backgrounds and geographic regions say they are not prepared for a critical illness diagnosis. Only 1-in-10 feels strongly confident in having enough savings to cover family emergencies or handle the financial implications of a critical illness." (Institute for Wellness Solutions, Washington National)

Most Americans Ill-Prepared for Critical Illness
"One-fourth of respondents just 'don't know' what resources they would use to help offset their expenses ... Forty-five percent believe they would never recover financially from a battle with Alzheimer's disease or dementia; for cancer, that number is 38%." (Employee Benefit News)

Group Health Plans Ruled Primary Plans When Coordinating With Medicare Advantage Plans
"Group health plans ... should confirm they are properly coordinating benefits with Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs) to avoid a private cause of action for double damages to recover amounts under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP Act) in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's denial of certiorari on an appeal of the Third Circuit's decision in In Re Avandia Marketing Sales Practices GlaxoSmithKline LLC v. Human Medical Plans, Inc. (Glaxo). The Supreme Court's decision ... lets stand a Third Circuit decision that the private right of action provision in the MSP Act ... gives Humana a private cause of action as a primary plan against GSK to recover the double damage award." (Solutions Law Press)

Health Perks Geared to Highly Paid Workers Could Trigger Penalties Under ACA
"Many executives have long enjoyed perks like free health care and better health benefits for themselves and their families. But under a little noticed anti-discrimination provision in the federal health law, such advantages could soon trigger fines of up to $500,000." (Kaiser Health News)

Yahoo's Sweetened Parental Leave Policy Raises Practical FMLA Certification Issues for Moms and Dads in the Workplace
"[The DOL] very clearly warns employers ... that an 'employer may not request a certification for leave to bond with a newborn child or a child placed for adoption or foster care.' ... [C]an an employer require some sort of documentation from mom or dad confirming the need for bonding leave? Yes, indeed! ... [I]f mom wants to return before [the generally recognized period of recovery from childbirth], an employer arguably can require documentation from her physician confirming that she is able to perform the essential functions of her job." (FMLA Insights)

Connecting Work/Life Balance to Employee Turnover
"More than one in four employees at organizations not perceived to support work/life balance plan to leave their employers within the next two years, compared to 17 percent of employees who feel supported ... In addition to affecting turnover, the research showed that employees' perceptions on the matter can affect how they feel about their compensation. Among employees in the bottom quartile, 36 percent said they would agree with the statement, 'I believe I am paid fairly for what I do,' compared with 58 percent at the work/life balance-leading organizations." (Human Resource Executive Online)

Louisiana Proposed Legislation Would Block Federal Health-Care Employer Mandate
"A bill proposing a constitutional amendment to protect any employer or health provider from being required to participate in the federally mandated health-care system passed out of the House Committee on Health and Welfare on Wednesday. House Bill 429 by Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, would prohibit employers from being penalized if they choose not to participate in a health-care plan.... The bill would allow voters to amend the Louisiana Constitution in a statewide election to be held in November of next year." (The Times-Picayune)

Employers Not Talking to Part-Timers About ACA
"[M]ost part-time workers have heard of the ACA: 71% said they are familiar with the changes associated with it; 21% said they have not heard anything about it; and 7% said they have heard the name but are not at all familiar with the changes associated with it.... [O]nly 8% said they heard about the ACA from their employer." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

Testimony before EEOC on Wellness Programs and Nondiscrimination Under Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plans (PDF)
"Allowing variation in health insurance premium contributions, cost sharing or benefits based on health status as a wellness incentive, by definition, involves tradeoffs. On the one hand, if such programs effectively promote wellness and prevent disease, they could help to improve population health and, at least over the long term, help to reduce health care spending associated with certain conditions or risk factors that wellness programs target. On the other hand, to the extent such programs make it more expensive for individuals with health problems to participate in group health plan benefits in the near term, they might also promote loss of coverage for individuals with poorer health status and undermine risk pooling." (Karen Pollitz, Senior Fellow, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Colorado Launches Ad Campaign for New Online Marketplace
"With less than five months until Colorado's new online health insurance marketplace opens for business this fall, officials are concerned that few state residents have heard of it. This week, it became the first state to launch a public awareness campaign with television, print, radio and billboard ads that will cost $2 million and run two months." (Kaiser Health News)

GAO Recommends Enhancements for Medicaid Improper Payments Reporting and Related Corrective Action Monitoring
"The objectives of this report were to determine the extent to which (1) CMS's methodology for estimating Medicaid improper payments follows OMB guidance and produces reasonable national and state-level estimates and (2) corrective action plans have been developed to reduce Medicaid payment error rates and whether these plans address the types of payment errors identified.... GAO is making four recommendations to help improve CMS's reporting of estimated Medicaid improper payments and its related corrective action process." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

House Approves Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013
"As approved by the House, H.R. 1406 will: [1] Allow employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and accruing comp time for overtime hours worked.... [2] Protect employees by requiring the employer and the employee to complete a written agreement to use comp time ... [3] Retain all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40 hour work week and how overtime compensation is accrued.... [4] Allow employees to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time each year.... [5] Require the [GAO] to report to Congress on the extent private-sector employers and employees are using comp time, as well as the number of complaints filed with and enforcement actions taken by the [DOL]." (Committee on Education & the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)

Cigna Plans to Sell Health Insurance on Only Five Public Exchanges
"The company will offer health plans to about a dozen metropolitan regions in Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona and Colorado, Chief Executive David Cordani said ... Cigna, the No. 5 U.S. health insurer, had previously indicated that it planned to expand its business to sell on a limited number of exchanges in 2014 ... Most of Cigna's health insurance business in the United States is administering benefits for corporations." (Reuters)

HSA Assets Continue to Surge
"On average, employees with both [401(k) and HSA] plans tend to save more of their annual salaries (8.5% average annual deferral rate) in their DC accounts than employees with just a DC plan (8.1%)." (Financial Planning)

Understanding the Reasons for Premium Changes Under the ACA
"The natural temptation will be to simply compare the 2014 premiums to those in 2013 to determine how the ACA may have affected premiums beyond any usual changes due to rising medical spending. But such comparisons will mask not only the reasons for any premium changes, but also how premium changes will differ across states and individuals. Premiums will go up for some individuals and down for others." (Health Affairs)


Government Drops Big Data Bombshell on U.S. Hospital Industry
"It's a veritable treasure trove of information that will be even more revealing as we dig deeper into the analytics -- especially when we combine the cost data with clinical outcomes. That combination will finally give us the actionable intelligence that's been missing for so long. Pricing alone isn't sufficient because it can (and most definitely will) be argued that the quality of care warrants a significantly higher price." (Avik Roy, in Forbes)


Increased Health Care Cost Sharing Works As Intended: It Burdens Patients Who Need Care the Most!
"The health care market is unlike other markets; thus, forcing increased cost sharing on American households is a deeply inefficient strategy for trying to contain health care costs. Forcing Americans to pay a higher share of health costs will not induce them to shop around and compare prices when they are experiencing chest pains or their child is suffering from an asthma attack." (Economic Policy Institute)


Small Participation by Health Insurers Won't Add Up to Failed Exchanges
"For all the trepidation surrounding the exchanges, the numbers thus far fit the markets and carriers snugly. It would be tempting to read into Cigna's decision to participate in just five health exchanges in 2014. But Cigna's business is predominantly self-funded employers, who won't participate in health exchanges, so Cigna was never going to be in dozens of state exchanges." (HealthLeaders InterStudy)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

PCAOB, Auditors and Executive Compensation
"Some commenters objected to the initial proposal on the grounds that auditors might influence the design of compensation programs or require the auditor to substantively judge the executive compensation programs. The [Public Company Accounting Oversight Board] thinks it solved these problems by emphasizing that the purpose of the procedures is to further the auditor's risk assessment of material misstatement rather than to determine the appropriateness of executive compensation." (Dodd-Frank.com, a blog by Leonard, Street and Deinard)

Press Releases

Grant, Kay Named to IRS Leadership Posts
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

FASAC Survey Now Available at www.fasb.org
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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