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June 27, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Benefits Account Executive
for Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. in TX

Manager, Operations
for The Newport Group in FL

IRT Regional Relationship Manager Director
for Wells Fargo in VA

Client Success Specialist
for The Online 401(k) in CA

Benefit Funds Administrator
for Multiemployer Benefit Plans in the Construction Industry in PA

Health & Welfare Compliance Consultant
for Corporate Synergies Group in NJ

Benefits Manager
for County of Sonoma in CA

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Webcasts and Conferences

IHC Forum West: Innovative Health & Benefit Management Solutions
December 5, 2013 in NV
(Institute for HealthCare Consumerism)

IRS Tax Forum - National Harbor MD
August 27, 2013 in DC
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))

IRS Tax Forum - San Diego
September 17, 2013 in CA
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))

Ascensus Fall Forum - San Antonio 2013
October 28, 2013 in TX

Ascensus Fall Forum - Las Vegas 2013
November 18, 2013 in NV

Supreme Court Invalidates DOMA: Impacts for Employer-Sponsored Plans
July 25, 2013 WEBCAST
(Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

Webinar on Supreme Court DOMA Decision
July 17, 2013 WEBCAST

Health Care Reform: Benefits Administration implications, solutions and employee engagement
June 20, 2013 WEBCAST

View All Webcasts and Conferences


[Official Guidance]

Text of Final CMS Regs on ACA Exchange Functions: Eligibility for Exemptions; Miscellaneous Minimum Essential Coverage Provisions
"This final rule sets forth standards and processes under which the Exchange will conduct eligibility determinations for, and grant certificates of exemption from, the individual shared responsibility payment.... This final rule provides standards for determining whether certain other types of health insurance coverage constitute minimum essential coverage and procedures for plan sponsors to follow for a plan to be identified as minimum essential coverage under section 5000A of the Code. This rule also designates certain types of existing health coverage as minimum essential coverage. Other types of coverage, not statutorily specified and not designated as minimum essential coverage in this regulation, may be recognized as minimum essential coverage if certain substantive and procedural requirements are met as set forth in this rule." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)


Innovative Drivers of Value-Based Purchasing of Healthcare Benefits

Sponsored by World Congress

A meeting that gets rid of the fluff and elevates and directs the conversation to non-traditional and innovative areas of value-based purchasing, so you can master modern day benefit design. July 25-26, Chicago.

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Transition Relief from Individual Mandate for Employees
"Citing the limited transition relief available to employers offering a non-calendar year health plan as well as the ability of an employer to permit changes in elections for benefits under its Section 125 Cafeteria Plan in anticipation of the Health Insurance Marketplaces coming online, the IRS will allow employees and their spouses or dependents who are eligible to enroll in a non-calendar year employer sponsored health plan to avoid Individual Mandate tax penalties for the months between January 1, 2014 and the month that the employer's 2013-2014 plan year ends." (Hill, Chesson & Woody)

How Does the Fall of DOMA Impact the FMLA?
"[E]ven if the employee formerly lived or was married in a state that recognized the same-sex marriage, he/she is unlikely to be considered a spouse in the 'new' state for purposes of FMLA if the state does not recognize the marriage.... [E]mployers clearly need some help from the DOL." (FMLA Insights)

Supreme Court Decision on DOMA Clears Way for FMLA Application to Same-Sex Spouses
"As a result of the Windsor decision, in New York, the District of Columbia and the 11 other states that recognize same-sex marriage, the definition of spouse under the FMLA will now be expanded to include a husband or wife of the same sex, and qualified employees must be permitted to take leave under the law to care for their same-sex spouse." (Goldberg and Segalla)

Florida Employer Wins Exemption from Contraception Mandate on Religious Grounds
"U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich issued a 37-page decision ... declaring corporations do have First Amendment freedom of religion protections.... The judge also provided an alternative, writing that corporations, even if they don't have such rights, can assert the religious freedom rights of their owners.... The case is the first of its kind in Florida -- or any of the three states covered by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- involving a profit-making entity[.]" (Tampa Tribune)


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.

Large Employers Moving En Masse to High-Deductible Health Plans
"[Consumer-driven health care] has now become virtually synonymous with high-deductible health plans ... Whether or not the deductible passes through a health savings account or is paid directly really doesn't make much difference since the designated cash account is simply a matter of tax policy rather than health policy." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Navigators to Play Important Role as Marketplace Launch Nears
"Consumers can call on 'navigators,' trained people who will provide face-to-face assistance. Or, it is hoped, the navigators will call on them. These helpers will hang out at church picnics and beauty salons, and even go door to door. Ideally, they will be people well-known in the neighborhood, working through established groups. After the navigators undergo training and pass a test, their job will be to point out differences in plans so enrollees can decide which would best suit their needs and income." (Kaiser Health News)

Preparing for 'Biggest Open Enrollment' Ever
"Nevada is one of 15 states racing to launch their own marketplaces where consumers can compare plans' prices and benefits and find out if they are eligible for a federal subsidy or Medicaid. The other states are relying on the federal government.... A quirk in the law gave generous funding for consumer outreach in states with their own marketplaces, but little for states with a federal exchange. That could be a problem since polls show that most Americans know little about how the law affects them." (MedPage Today)

House Hearing: 'Challenges Facing America's Businesses Under the ACA'
Linked page includes background memo, opening statement and witness testimony, and a video of the hearing. Excerpt from the Subcommittee Chairman's opening statement: "[T]he costs and requirements of this law are forcing many businesses across the country to make difficult decisions, decisions that will impact the strength and growth of their companies, the wages of their workers, and their ability to hire new staff.... 41 percent of small businesses have frozen hiring because of Obamacare.... 19 percent of small businesses have reduced their number of workers because of the law. That is remarkable: nearly one fifth of the nation's small businesses have reduced employment because of the Affordable Care Act." (Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, House Committee on Energy and Commerce)

ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, June 24, 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)


Statement of U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, House Energy and Commerce Committee, on 'Challenges Facing America's Businesses under the ACA' (PDF)
"Prior to the enactment of the PPACA, more than half of all Americans received health insurance benefits voluntarily provided by their employers. The employer-based system voluntarily provided health benefits to over 178 million Americans. Overwhelmingly, employees were satisfied with these benefits and want their employers to continue providing it to them. Further, employers were spending over $500 billion on health benefits each year. Recent analyses indicate that despite the goal of the employer mandate -- ostensibly to increase employer-sponsored coverage -- the PPACA is eroding the employer-sponsored system." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage: The Practical Effects on Employee Benefit Plans
"The Court's DOMA ruling may require extensive revision to, among other things, retirement plan documents, health plan documents, COBRA and FMLA policies, and an employer's income tax withholding and employment tax payroll practices. [A chart at the linked article] provides a high level overview of issues involving qualified retirement and health and welfare plans that plan sponsors will need to consider. [A summary at the link] provides a more in-depth review of the issues." (Groom Law Group)

[Guidance Overview]

Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decisions Create New Rules for Employee Benefit Plans (Part 1: ERISA Plans)
"The most difficult situations for employers are those in which there is a conflict of laws. For example, suppose that the employer is located and has all of its operations in Virginia, which has a Constitutional prohibition on recognizing same-sex marriage. We can imagine several situations that might prove complex. In one, an employee who has always been domiciled in Virginia has traveled to Maryland to get married. In a second, an employee who has always been domiciled in Maryland travels to work in Virginia each day. And in a third, an employee who once lived in Maryland and was married there moves to Virginia.... Given the uncertainty in these areas, what can an employer do? ... [In] most instances, it is probably safest for the employer to treat couples as married if the situation is unclear." (Calhoun Law Group)

[Guidance Overview]

Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decisions Create New Rules for Employee Benefit Plans (Part 2: Governmental and Church Plans)
"[T]here can be major unresolved issues if one jurisdiction recognizes a couple?s marriage and another does not. The situation is exacerbated for governmental plans, which may have no safe way to resolve the uncertainty..... Churches are likely to have the most flexibility in dealing with [the recent] decisions -- but they also need to review their plans carefully to ensure that they do not accidentally grant or deny coverage." (Calhoun Law Group)

[Guidance Overview]

Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA: Eleven Benefit-Related Issues to Review
"[This article includes] a list of certain significant issues that plan sponsors and benefits professionals should review in connection with the Supreme Court decision.... Many questions remain unanswered, and ... new issues will become apparent ... Must a same-sex marriage in a state or district permitting such marriage be recognized in a state that does not otherwise permit same-sex marriage?... What is the effect on a company's plans if it has employees in several jurisdictions, only some of which recognize same-sex marriages?... Should plans be administered prospectively from the date of the decision, or must there be retroactive application?" (Epstein Becker Green)

[Guidance Overview]

Employer Benefits Obligations Post-DOMA
"For a legally married couple who live in a state where same-sex marriage is recognized: ... Employers with self-insured welfare plans ... may not have to extend spousal-benefit coverage to same-sex spouses ... Businesses will have to offer COBRA continuation coverage to same-sex spouses. Employers with pension plans will be required to recognize same-sex spouses for purposes of determining surviving-spouse annuities.... Organizations with 401(k) plans will have to recognize same-sex spouses for purposes of determining death benefits, and same-sex spouses must consent to beneficiary designations. Employees must be permitted to take family and medical leave to care for an ill same-sex spouse." (Society for Human Resource Management)

[Guidance Overview]

Allowable Compensation Limitations on Federal Contractors: Not Just for Top Senior Executives Anymore
"Prior to [these Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR)] changes, only the compensation of a contractor's five most highly compensated senior executives at a home office or segment was subject to the compensation reimbursement limitations established by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). [These] FAR changes, however, apply the OFPP's compensation limitations to all contractor employees. This means, under FAR 31.205-6(p) as amended, compensation for any employee, including scientists, engineers and other technical or non-management personnel, that exceeds the OFPP compensation limitations is unallowable." (McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP)

The Verdict on DOMA and Proposition 8: Impact on Employee Benefit Plans
"The rulings ... do not require all employer-sponsored benefit plans to provide benefits for same-sex spouses. All they require is that the federal government treat same-sex couples who are legally married under applicable state law the same as opposite-sex married couples for all purposes under federal law.... [The] rulings should have little impact on the design of fully insured health plans, which remain subject to state insurance law mandates. The impact on self-funded plans remains to be seen[.]" (Verrill Dana LLP)

DOMA Ruling Boosts Key Social Security, Medicare Benefits
"The DOMA ruling also will open up valuable Medicare benefits to some married same-sex couples ... [M]arried spouses can enroll without paying a premium even if they don't have the requisite quarters of work history ... What's that worth? Seniors without adequate work credits can buy into the system by paying a Part A premium out of pocket. This year, the monthly Part A premium is $243 for beneficiaries with 30 to 39 quarters of work history, and $441 for those with less than 30 quarters in the system." (Reuters)

Many Companies Will See Modest New Benefits-Related Costs Resulting from DOMA Ruling
"Almost all employers will have to absorb some administrative costs. For example, until now the value of health benefits for same-sex spouses of plan participants and their dependents was taxable. That will still be the case in states where same-sex marriages are unlawful. But employers will have to [retroactively adjust the tax treatment] in the jurisdictions where such marriages are allowed... On the plus side of that issue, ... employers may be able to file for [FICA] tax refunds." (CFO.com)

Effective Date of Supreme Court Decisions Is Among Many Details to be Analyzed
"The result of today's decisions is full marriage equality (state sanctioned and federal recognition) for same-sex marriage in [13 states plus D.C.] ... [E]ffective dates for marriage equality in [these states] vary ... Moreover, the effective date of today's Supreme Court ruling and the details regarding how employers will be required to implement the requisite changes to pension and welfare plans have yet to be determined." (Baker & McKenzie)

CEO Pay in 2012 Became Even Higher Relative to Typical Workers and Other High Earners
"Over the last three decades, CEO compensation grew far faster than that of other highly paid workers, those earning more than 99.9 percent of other wage earners. CEO compensation in 2010 was 4.70 times greater than that of the top 0.1 percent of wage earners, a ratio 1.62 higher (a wage gain roughly equivalent to that of 1.6 high wage earners) than the 3.08 ratio that prevailed over the 1947-1979 period. Also over the last three decades, CEO compensation increased further relative to other very high wage earners than the wages of college graduates grew relative to those of high school graduates." (Economic Policy Institute)

Press Releases

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