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May 23, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Services Program Director
for Nationwide Insurance in MN, WI

IRT Relationship Manager 3
for Wells Fargo in PA

Defined Benefit Actuarial Associate
for Charles Schwab in OH

for Saunders Financial in FL

Internal Sales Director
for Goldleaf Partners in ANY STATE, MN

Senior Technical Manager
for Benetrends, Inc. in PA

Client Relationship Manager / Retirement Plan Clients
for 401k Advisors Intermountain in UT

Account Service Representative
for DailyAccess Health & Welfare Services in KS

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Webcasts and Conferences

Health Insurance Marketplace 101 Webinar
July 17, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

Understanding the Health Insurance Marketplace Webinar
July 11, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

Health Insurance Marketplace 101 Webinar
July 10, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

401(k) Rekon is Coming to Baltimore, MD
June 11, 2013 in MD
(401(k) Rekon)

Executive Compensation Webinar
June 4, 2013 in CA

Health Care Reform Workforce Realignment: Beware the Unintended Consequences
June 18, 2013 in KS
(Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP)

Retirement Plan Compliance Assistance Seminar For Small Business
July 11, 2013 in KS
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

"Fundamentals of 401(k) and Other Qualified Plans" - a 3-day Seminar, Kansas City
June 26, 2013 in KS
(SunGard Relius)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


[Guidance Overview]

Employers Need to Complete 'Coverage Tool' When Employees Apply for Exchange Coverage
"The long-version of the application includes an Employer Coverage Tool, which employers will be asked to complete to enable an applicant to answer specific questions in the application.... Applicants are instructed to 'take the Employer Coverage Tool on the next page to the employer that offers coverage to help you answer these questions.' However, the employer's completed Employer Coverage Tool is not to be included when the application is submitted;" (Society for Human Resource Management)


Practical Law Exclusive Offer for BenefitsLink Subscribers

Sponsored by Practical Law Company (PLC)

Whether you're a new or seasoned attorney, PLCEmployee Benefits & Executive Compensation provides resources to help you work smarter and faster. We cover retirement plans, health & welfare plans and executive compensation arrangements. Learn more.

Insurers Feel Pressure from Health Group with Ties to White House
"The links between a nonprofit promoting President Obama's healthcare law and the White House have created an 'air of expectation' that insurers will contribute to the group, according to an insurance industry official. Current and former administration officials have taken on leadership and fundraising roles for Enroll America, a nonprofit aiming to make sure people sign up for new coverage options. As the ties grow deeper, the organization has come to feel like 'just an arm of the administration,' said one official who works closely with insurers." (The Hill)

Two States Seek Help to Start Health Exchanges
"[H]ealth-insurance board chairmen [in both Idaho and New Mexico] said this week they can't get their computer systems ready by Oct. 1 and need the federal government to help.... Federal officials say they are monitoring each state's progress and can absorb more states into the federal computer system if needed.... [CMS] confirmed it will run the technology behind the Idaho and New Mexico exchanges but said it still considers those state-based exchanges." (The Wall Street Journal; paid subscription may be required)

Accountants Identify Challenges of Advising Businesses on Health Care Reform
"The survey asked more than 130 U.S. accounting firms for the biggest challenges they and their clients face in implementing the health care legislation. Here are the top three responses: [1] Assessing the impact of employer-shared responsibility requirements -- i.e., determining large employer status, assessing affordability and minimum value of coverage, and estimating possible penalties. [2] Understanding nondiscrimination requirements for employer-provided health insurance plans. [3] Calculating premium-assistance and cost-sharing reduction subsidies to allow individuals to see the subsidy they would receive based on varying income levels, family size, etc." (CPA Practice Advisor)

2013 Milliman Medical Index Finds Annual Cost of Family Health Care Has Risen to $22,000
"The total share of this cost borne directly by the family -- $9,144 in payroll deductions and out-of-pocket costs -- now exceeds the cost of groceries for the MMI's typical family of four. The out-of-pocket cost alone -- $3,600 for co-pays, coinsurance, and other cost sharing -- is more than the average U.S. household spends on gas in a year.... The employer pays a significant share of our typical family's healthcare cost; some of these costs are not visible in the family budget. But for four of the last five years, our family has seen a larger percentage increase in costs than the employer." (Milliman)


ACI's Defending and Managing Employment Discrimination Litigation, 7/31 - 8/1, NY

Sponsored by ACI (American Conference Institute)

The premier employment discrimination litigation conference returns for a fourth year -- more in-house counsel client presence, more government regulators and enforcers, and top federal and state jurists actively involved in these cases. Discount Code BEN200.

Taxable Income Arises from Cash Settlement on Claim of Right to Otherwise Tax-Free Health Coverage (PDF)
"As [the author] understands the facts, the employer is providing cash in lieu of the health benefits that it should have provided. Even though the health benefits themselves may have been excludable from gross income, the cash payments are not. These payments are regular wages reported on Form W-2." [Released to the public as Chief Counsel Advice 2013042214410232; Chief Counsel Advice consists of memoranda written in response to various internal requests for guidance from IRS agents, officers, and attorneys. Chief Counsel Advice is not substantial authority and cannot be cited in court.] (Internal Revenue Service)

Claims Administrator Required to Enforce Health Plan Exclusionary Language
"According to the court, the plan's terms clearly listed her proposed disc replacement as a treatment that Cigna 'does not cover' because it was considered 'experimental, investigational or unproven.' Although Plaintiff submitted medical literature in support of her position that such treatment should not be considered experimental, the court said that it could not order Cigna 'to rewrite its policy'.... Affirming the denial of coverage, the court concluded that Cigna 'was not only correct to deny the claim in accordance with the Plan language, but required by law to do so as a fiduciary of the Plan.'" [Dubaich v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., No. 2L11-cv-10670-DMG-AJW (C.D. Cal. Apr. 25, 2013)] (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Court of Appeals Hears Arguments on Mandatory Contraceptive Coverage
"The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is the first federal appellate court to hear arguments in cases challenging the mandate that took effect last August.... The case brought by Hobby Lobby Inc. is considered the most prominent of these efforts." [The linked article includes a synopsis and links to three excellent articles about the contraceptive mandate cases.] (Kaiser Health News)

Courts to Hear Lawsuits Over Mandatory Contraceptive Coverage
"Obamacare's birth control mandate will go before four different appeals courts over the next three weeks as private businesses that object to the policy on religious liberty grounds bring a barrage of lawsuits that opponents hope to get before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this fall. [This week] two for-profit companies will ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike the requirement that they provide employees with insurance coverage that includes birth control and other drugs that they say can cause abortion. Three other companies will present oral arguments in different appeals courts by early June.... More than 60 lawsuits have been filed on the issue -- about half by for-profit businesses and half by nonprofit institutions." (Politico)

Idaho University to Pay $400,000 for HIPAA Violations
"Idaho State University agreed to pay $400,000 to settle HIPAA Security Rule violations that allegedly left the electronic health information of 17,500 patients accessible for at least 10 months. According to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR): [1] ISU disabled firewall protections that would have otherwise protected the information on its servers. [2] ISU's risk analyses and assessments of its affiliated clinics were inadequate. [3] ISU failed to apply proper security measures and policies to address risks to the information. [4] ISU did not have procedures for routine review of its system which could have detected the firewall breach much sooner." (Holland & Hart)

Eleven Insurers Want to Play Ball in Colorado's Marketplace
"Colorado became the latest state ... to post proposed health insurance plans for its new online marketplace ... What stands out is the number of plans being proposed. A total of 11 insurers are seeking approval to market about 250 health plans to individuals and small groups in the state's online marketplace under the federal health care overhaul. While Colorado regulators said they are encouraged by the number of carriers who want to participate -- hoping competition will help keep down premium costs -- it worries agents." (Kaiser Health News)

Innovation in Response to Healthcare Reform Offers Unique Opportunities That Differ by State
"The healthcare industry is used to a handful of states being at the forefront of innovation -- for example, many benefit design concepts are created in California and developments in Florida or New York often presage laws elsewhere. Perhaps surprisingly, many of the more recent big developments have come out of unexpected places -- states like Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah. Much of this innovation is directly related to healthcare reform and the next step in cost control[.]" (HealthLeaders InterStudy; free registration required to access full report)

CRS Reviews Mandatory Appropriations And Fund Transfers In ACA
"According to the [Congressional Research Service], basically, the FY 2013 mandatory appropriations in ACA are fully sequesterable at the rate applicable to nonexempt nondefense mandatory spending under the March 1, 2013, sequestration order.... Although the mandatory spending was fully sequesterable, the sequestration order did not apply to unobligated ACA funds that were appropriated in a prior fiscal year, and are still available. The exemption for unobligated balances carried over from prior fiscal years does apply to a several ACA appropriations, and they remain available 'until expended' or 'without fiscal year limitation.'" (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Some Unions Protest Obamacare's Impact on Multiemployer Health Plans
"Unless there is a major regulatory change made by Health and Human Services, these union negotiated [Taft-Hartley] plans will be struck a harsh blow once the exchanges go into effect in 2014. A quiet effort by many unions to persuade the Obama administration to make this change is now becoming very public.... '[A]s currently interpreted, the ACA would block these plans from the law's benefits (such as the subsidy for lower-income individuals and families) while subjecting them to the law's penalties (like the $63 per insured person to subsidize Big Insurance)' [said Joseph T. Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers]." (My FDL)

Can Employed People Get Obamacare Subsidies?
"[T]here's one crucial issue that the [ACA] did not address, one that has since generated huge debate among health policy experts. Where the law says a plan can't exceed '9.5 percent of the applicable taxpayer's household income,' did they mean a plan just for that worker -- or for that workers' entire family? ... It's a whole lot easier to blow through the 9.5 percent threshold with a family plan that costs $15,745 than an individual plan with a $5,615 price tag." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post)


Text of SHRM Comments on Proposed DOL Regs for ACA 90-Day Waiting Period (PDF)
"Under current and past practice, employers often adopt a 'first of the month' following 90 days eligibility rule to coincide with employment probationary periods which are designed to help determine whether the employment relationship works for both the employer and the employee. Decreasing a probationary period to two months (and adopting a waiting period that runs to the first of the month following two months of employment) simply to accommodate an accelerated eligibility for health coverage does not make sense from an overall HR perspective, and further would undermine employer attempts to adopt best practices in human resource management." (Society for Human Resource Management)


How Ideas from Private Industry Help Combat Medicare Fraud, Waste and Abuse
"While the financial services industry has had prolonged success combating fraudulent transactions with technology-based solutions, it is important to realize that the rate of improper payments was perhaps at most 0.1-0.2 percent. The estimated level of improper payments in Medicare is 50-100 times higher. This level of endemic fraud, waste, and abuse is best addressed through incentives for all stakeholders, implementation of multiple, differentiated and decentralized solutions, and establishment of stretch goals for combating improper payments." (Marco Huesch and Robert Szczerba in Health Affairs)


Big Insurers See Big 1Q Profits, But Protesteth Too Much, Methinks
"After posting hefty profits in 2012, the publicly traded health plans have released pretty darn good first-quarter earnings and most even upped their forecasts for the year.... And, by the way, their stock prices are up.... To listen to some of the health plan executives talk, though, it's as if they expect Obamacare to swallow them whole. They warn of 20 percent-plus increases in commercial premiums as if they are inevitable. State healthcare exchanges are spoken of as more risk than opportunity." (Paula Wade in HealthLeaders InterStudy)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of EBSA Proposed Extension of Information Collection Requests Submitted for Public Comment
"[EBSA] is soliciting comments on the proposed extension of the information collection requests (ICRs) contained in the [following] documents ... [1] Disclosures for Participant Directed Individual Account Plans Under ERISA Section 404(c).... [2] Affordable Care Act Grandfathered Health Plan Disclosure, Recordkeeping Requirement, and Change in Carrier Disclosure.... [3] Regulation Relating to Loans to Plan Participants and Beneficiaries Who Are Parties In Interest With Respect to The Plan.... [4] PTE 91-55: Transactions Between Individual Retirement Accounts and Authorized Purchasers of American Eagle Coins.... [5] PTE 85-68: Permit Employee Benefit Plans to Invest in Customer Notes of Employers.... [6] Default Investment Alternatives under Participant Directed Individual Account Plans." (U.S. Department of Labor)

SEC Provides No-Action Relief on Regulation BTR
"Pfizer argued that the exchange offer would not result in inequitable treatment for those employees subject to a suspension, and hence Regulation BTR should not apply. In other words, this is not Enron. It's why Regulation BTR includes an exception for mergers etc., which should apply here, even if Rule 101(c)(9) does not specifically refer to exchange offers. The SEC granted the no-action request, subject to some conditions." (Dodd-Frank.com, a blog by Leonard, Street and Deinard)

2013 Say on Pay Voting Results as of May 22, 2013
"1,520 companies have held Say on Pay votes in 2013 ... 73% of companies have received a greater than 90% 'For' vote; Average vote among all companies: 90.5% 'For' vote, 7.7% 'Against' vote, 1.8% Abstentions." (Steven Hall & Partners)

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