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July 8, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Webcasts and Conferences

Building Trust in Employee Owned Companies
September 3, 2013 WEBCAST
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

ASPPA Cincinnati Pension Conference
November 18, 2013 in KY
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

Health and Welfare Benefit Plans 24th Annual National Institute
September 26, 2013 in VA
(ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits)

Understanding Roth Accounts and In-Plan Conversions in 401(k), 403(b), and Governmental 457(b) Plans -- Webinar
August 1, 2013 WEBCAST
(Lorman Education Services)

4th Annual Leadership Summit on Health Insurance Exchanges
July 15, 2013 in VA
(World Congress)

Innovative Drivers of Value Based Purchasing Seminar
July 25, 2013 in IL
(World Congress)

6th Annual Forum on On-Site Employee Health & Wellness Clinics
July 24, 2013 in IL
(World Congress)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


[Guidance Overview]

Final Rule Issued on Premium Tax Credit, Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility Determinations (Part 1)
"Much of the rule's preface, which fills 509 of its 606 pages, responds in numbing and repetitive detail to the 741 comments HHS received on the proposed rule.... The Administration had shocked ACA observers by announcing on July 2 that it was delaying until 2015 the enforcement of the ACA's employer and insurer reporting requirements and employer mandate. This raised the question of how the exchanges would verify whether or not an applicant for advance premium tax credits had employer coverage and whether or not employer coverage was adequate and affordable. The final rule answers that question." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)


Defined Contribution Health Plan Update

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Learn how to identify keys to a proper defined contribution plan with individual policies, and explain challenges to implementation. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.

[Guidance Overview]

Final Rule Issued on Premium Tax Credit, Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility Determinations (Part 2)
"The statute requires states to bring their [Alternative Benefit Plans] into compliance with the ACA requirements and to offer them to certain categories of Medicaid recipients, including the adult expansion population in those states that are expanding coverage, by January 1, 2014.... HHS states that it does not intend to pursue compliance actions against states that are working toward compliance but have not accomplished it by January 1." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)

Delay in Health Reform Penalties for Employers Leaves Many Issues Still to Resolve
"While the announcement that employer shared responsibility penalties will not apply until 2015 was a welcome relief for employers, addressing the fundamental challenges raised by the reform law remains a priority. At the heart of the matter is cost. In the short term, new fees, plan design changes and the expectation of additional enrollment will add an estimated 2%-3% or more to health plan cost in 2014, even if employers table plans to extend coverage to all employees working 30 or more hours per week. Longer-term, avoiding the excise tax on high-cost plans slated for 2018 remains a daunting challenge. More than a third of employers surveyed by Mercer in May said that they were taking steps in 2014 to help bring down cost by 2018." (Mercer)

[Guidance Overview]

ACA's Employer Mandate Penalties Postponed
"Technically, the [Treasury Department] announcement does not delay the effective date of the employer mandate itself (i.e., the requirement to offer affordable, qualified coverage or pay a penalty).... Although the delay in the assessment of the penalties may effectively result in a postponement of the requirement to offer affordable, qualified coverage, the contours of the July 2 relief cannot be determined until formal guidance is issued ... It is possible, for instance, that the IRS will require employers to make a good faith effort to comply with the shared responsibility rules in 2014 in order to avoid imposition of the penalties." (Spencer Fane)

Health Insurance Marketplaces Will Not Be Required to Verify Consumer Representations
"After encountering 'legislative and operational barriers,' the federal government will not require the District and the 16 states that are running their own marketplaces to verify a consumer's statement that they do not receive health insurance from their employer." (The Washington Post)

Does a Postponed Employer Mandate Signal More Delays?
"Of the 6 million employers in the country, 96 percent employ fewer than 50 workers, thereby exempting them from the employer mandate. And of the about 200,000 companies with more than 50 employees ... 94 percent already offer health insurance. That means only about 12,000 employers -- and up to 1.5 million workers -- are subject to the employer mandate and don't already provide health coverage." (FierceHealthPayer)

Tenth Circuit Allows For-Profit Employer to Proceed With Religious Challenge to Contraceptive Coverage Mandate
"The Tenth Circuit's decision holds only that the employer has a strong enough likelihood of success on the merits of the claim to support an injunction and does not decide the RFRA claim.... This case was argued before eight judges who issued several concurring and dissenting opinions.... [O]ne dissent found the majority's use of the term 'faith-based' unprecedented in its application to for-profit employers and considered how it might allow a for-profit employer to claim a religious objection under the RFRA to any law or government regulation." [Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, 2013 WL 3216103 (10th Cir. 2013); reversing Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, No. CIV-12-1000-HE (W.D. Okla. Nov. 19, 2012); see also the district court's subsequent June 28, 2013 temporary restraining order in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores.] (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

Which States Will Offer Multi-State Plans on Exchanges?
"National health plans that will sell policies through health insurance exchanges in every state might not be available when the online marketplaces open for business next year, thereby decreasing consumers' options and insurer competition in many markets. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which will administer these plans, says 31 states will have national plans available, but it won't release the names of the insurers or states under consideration[.]" (FierceHealthPayer)

Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health to Hold Hearing on the Delay of the Employer Mandate
"[The U.S. House Ways and Means] Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the Obama Administration's recent decision to delay the information reporting requirements and penalties associated with the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act until 2015. This hearing will allow the Subcommittee to focus specifically on the Administration's ability to make regulatory enforcement decisions on statutory provisions in law. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 ... beginning at 10:00 A.M." (Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)

More Young Adults See Health Insurance as a Necessity
"77% of adults 18 to 25 said having health insurance was 'very important.' Additionally, 76% of respondents in that age group told pollsters that health insurance is 'something I need' and 'insurance is worth the money it costs.' ... 87% of respondents in all age groups believed having health insurance was very important, and 88% said insurance was necessary. Only 68% of respondents in all age groups said insurance was worth the cost." (American Medical News)

New Jersey Employers Lead Nation in Hiking Employees' Share of Healthcare Costs
"Large companies across the country have been scaling back on what they contribute to their workers' health care plans, and the sharpest decline has been in New Jersey ... As a result, workers [in New Jersey] are having to pay bigger chunks of their health insurance costs than rate increases alone would suggest. It's not likely to be welcome news in the Garden State, which has some of the steepest health insurance costs in the country." (Associated Press via NJ.com)

Hospitals Offer Their Own Health Plans to Employers: Is This the End of Health Insurers?
"Insurance plans and hospitals are typically at loggerheads. They squabble over claims that the hospitals submit and insurers sometimes deny.... For years, hospitals have accepted that tension as a cost of doing business. Insurers have decades of experience in the complex work of setting premiums, which requires anticipating how much care patients will need in the coming year." (The Washington Post)

Ninth Circuit Rules California Medicaid Limits Invalid
"Faced with a budget crisis in 2009, California state lawmakers limited a variety of healthcare services covered by Medicaid, a decision ultimately approved by the federal agency that oversees the program. An association of rural health clinics sued to block the changes. A lower court ruled that the limits were not in conflict with Medicaid, but a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court unanimously reversed that decision[.]" (Reuters)

Mental Health Access May Be Adversely Affected in States Choosing Federally-Run Exchanges
"Adults who weren't receiving mental healthcare but needed it in the past year cited cost about half the time as the reason for not obtaining help ... Health insurance not covering enough treatments was cited 8.3% of the time and not covering any treatment 6.7% of the time[.]" (MedPage Today)

Nine Questions to Ask When Picking (or Changing) a Broker for Health Benefits
"Does the broker have solid references? ... Does the broker have a comprehensive understanding of all plan designs? ... Is there a good variety of different plan choices? ... Can the broker answer questions about federal and state regs? ... Can the broker provide practical, real-world info on Obamacare's impact on your workforce? ... How dedicated will the broker be to your company's specific needs? ... Is the broker willing to participate? ... How often does the broker check-in/what are his or her preferred communication methods? ... What type of cost-sharing and administrative help does the broker provide?" (HR Benefits Alert)


It's Not Just the Employer Mandate: Three Obamacare Delays You Haven't Heard About
"For the Obama administration, [Friday, July 5] was the perfect moment to release a 606-page final regulation on some of the health-care law's most key provisions.... The word 'delay' turns up 45 times in the document.... State-run marketplaces will not have to verify consumers' claims that they do not receive health insurance from their employer.... The federal government will scale back oversight of what applicants say they earn.... Electronic notices will not be required until 2015." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post)


Obamacare's 'Liar' Subsidies
"HHS now says it will no longer attempt to verify individual eligibility for insurance subsidies and instead will rely on self-reporting, with minimal efforts to verify if the information consumers provide is accurate.... HHS calls this 'a slight technical correction' ... [E]very provision of ObamaCare is supposed to 'solve' a problem created by some other provision of the bill. Kick out one of the struts like the business mandate and the whole apparatus becomes even more unstable. In the case of the lawless decision to shelve any income or employer insurance scrutiny, HHS's logistical challenges are real. But our bet is that the Administration is also using them as a pretense in a deliberate bid to make it much easier to join the exchanges." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)


Health Insurance Exchange Subsidies Will Be Granted on the Honor System!
"Because there will be no employer reporting in 2014, the administration also said in the Friday regs that the new health insurance exchanges 'may accept the applicants attestation regarding enrollment in eligible employer-sponsored plan ... without verification.' Given the incredibly complex 'ObamaCare' 60%/9.5% employer benefit eligibility rule, that will be a challenge for most citizens." (Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review)


Paying Physicians for Quality: Lessons from Employers
"Why did [the House subcommittee responsible for healthcare policy] invite a business group representative to testify? And why should businesses care about how Medicare pays physicians? The answer is that employers and the federal government are both major purchasers of health care, and we want government to look to the private sector for ideas to accelerate innovation in how we pay for care. Both public and private purchasers have a stake in building a system based on innovation, value, and measuring what matters." (The Health Care Blog)


Whoa: Does Obama Have the Power to Delay ACA Mandate?
"It isn't altogether clear it has the statutory authority in the health-care law to waive the requirement. If it doesn't, the move could be challenged in court. In either case, it could set a precedent for a level of executive discretion in the law that the administration probably won't like.... The more interesting issue is what precedent the decision sets. If the enforcement of the mandate is indeed discretionary, then a future Republican president will be tempted to pull the same trick." (Bloomberg)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Supreme Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional (PDF)
"[The Windsor decision] does not require all states and state officials to institutionalize or recognize same sex marriages. It let stand a provision in DOMA which permits a state not to recognize a same sex marriage that is valid in another state. This decision expands the financial planning options available to legally married same sex couples in a variety of areas." (ING)

Impact of Supreme Court DOMA Decision on Employee Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses
"[The authors] believe it likely that the IRS will issue guidance on the impact of Windsor in the near future that provides (at least for benefit plans) that if an employee is married the marriage will be recognized regardless of where the employee resides. However, until such guidance is issued, in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, it is not clear that such changes are required under the Code (based on the IRS guidance prior to DOMA)." (Dorsey & Whitney LLP)

Press Releases

Notice of Annual Meeting of FINRA Firms and Proxy
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

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