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July 31, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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[Official Guidance]

Text of Final IRS Regs on Reimbursed Entertainment Expenses
"On August 1, 2012, a notice of proposed rulemaking ... was published ... One written comment responding to the notice of proposed rulemaking was received.... After consideration of the comment, the regulations are adopted without substantive change ... The proposed regulations clarify that these rules apply to reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangements between payors and employees. Under the proposed regulations, a payor may be an employer, an agent of the employer, or a third party." (Internal Revenue Service)  


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[Official Guidance]

HHS Announces 'Challenge' to Others to Develop Educational Tools for Women About ACA
"To help make women aware of the important benefits available to them and their families through the [ACA], HHS is initiating this Challenge.... This Challenge will allow teams to create innovative, educational tools to inform women consumers, particularly women living in medically underserved communities, about enrollment in new health plans, as well as key provisions of the Affordable Care Act to improve their own health and that of their families. For purposes of this Challenge, the key provision of the [ACA] is coverage of 22 preventive services for women without copayment[.]" (Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

Large Employers Eye Private Health Exchanges
"Interest among large companies in private health-insurance exchanges for active employees, which has been incubating for a few years, is poking into the daylight.... All four large consulting firms that have launched private exchanges for active employees during the past year-plus (it's been fairly common for years for companies to use them for retirees) say they have landed large companies as customers for 2014 plan years." (CFO)  

BLS Report: Private Industry Workers' Average Vacation Days in 2012
"During 2012, 38 percent of private industry workers who had 1 year of service with their employer (and had access to a paid vacation plan) received between 5 and 9 paid vacation days per year, and 35 percent received between 10 and 14 paid vacation days. On average, workers with 1 year of service received 10 days of paid vacation in 2012. Among private industry workers with 5 years of service, more were in the 10-14 days of paid vacation category than any other category: 36 percent of these workers received 10 to 14 paid vacation days in 2012, while 34 percent received between 15 and 19 days. On average, workers with 5 years of service received 14 days of paid vacation." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)  

How Much Did That MLR Rebate Cost You?
"[T]hanks to MLR, insurance companies took in an additional $50 Billion in 2012 and paid out $800 Million less in rebates." (InsureBlog)  

Will Health Reform Make You Change Doctors?
"Some experts have said that the experience of shopping for health insurance on the new online marketplaces that will open for enrollment this October under the [ACA] will be like booking a vacation on Travelocity. But for those who make the wrong insurance purchase, the stakes could be much higher than an inconvenient layover or a hotel room without a view, and consumers who base their decision on price alone may be in for some unwelcome surprises. Chief among them: Some patients may have a difficult time seeing their current doctors under the new plans." (MarketWatch)  

Innovation in Health Care Brings Huge Benefits
"Policymakers tend to focus on the six-figure price tag of a new drug or technology. But they ignore the long-term value that medical innovations can bring for both patients and the broader economy.... Each 'pill' costs just pennies. But by improving doctors' ability to diagnose and monitor their patients, the devices could deliver a return on investment that's exponentially larger in the form of savings to the health care system." (National Center for Policy Analysis)  

State and Local Coverage Changes Under Full Implementation of the ACA
"This analysis demonstrates that there is substantial variation across and within states in the magnitude and composition of the population that is projected to gain Medicaid coverage under the ACA. These estimates also provide guidance on the areas that are likely to experience the largest declines in the uninsured and where the residual uninsured are likely to be concentrated." (Kaiser Family Foundation)  

Understanding the ACA's Potential Impact on Medicaid and the Uninsured at the Local Level
"Nationwide, the [ACA] will expand Medicaid coverage to millions of people and substantially decrease the number of people without health insurance coverage. However, the impact of the law will vary by geographic region depending on current coverage patterns and socio-demographic/economic factors, among other things. Use the interactive maps [at the linked article] to zoom in on your area and see how the number and composition of individuals enrolled in Medicaid or without insurance coverage could change if your state expands Medicaid." (Kaiser Family Foundation)  

Georgia Seeks More Time to Assess Proposed Higher Health Premiums on Its Exchange
"Georgia's insurance commissioner has asked for an 'emergency delay' of a deadline for approving proposed premiums in the state exchange ... set to roll out under the health reform law.... The deadline for state regulators to approve the insurance rates for the exchanges is [July 31].... Georgia is the only state that has asked for a 30-day extension to continue to analyze the rate increases. 'I was always skeptical of Obamacare,' said [commissioner Ralph] Hudgens ... 'But I never imagined that it would lead to rates being doubled or tripled.'" (Kaiser Health News)  

Airline Pilot's Disability Claim Does Not 'Fly' In Federal Court
"Where do you litigate an ERISA disability claim governed by a collective bargaining agreement? It has to be sent to arbitration, not to federal court, if the Railway Labor Act applies." [Oakey v. US Airways Pilots Disability Income Plan, No. 12-5115 (D.C. Cir. July 19, 2013) ] (Lane Powell PC)  

Delay in Employer Health Mandate Estimated to Cost $12 Billion
"The Obama administration's move to delay a mandate on businesses to provide health coverage will mean $12 billion in lost tax revenue and additional costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The nonpartisan CBO said one million fewer people will get employer coverage in 2014 as a result of the postponement, and half of those will turn to new government health-insurance exchanges or Medicaid for coverage." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Government Shutdown Wouldn't Stop Obamacare
"Congressional Republicans are debating whether to pass budget legislation that would cut off Obamacare funding. That could lead to a government shutdown, unless President Obama decided to sign off on a bill cutting off money for his signature legislative accomplishment (spoiler alert: This is unlikely!). So, let's make the relatively bulletproof assumption that the White House isn't on board with defunding Obamacare. The shutdown happens. And Obamacare implementation ... well, it continues." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

CBO Cost Estimate of H.R. 2009, the 'Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013'
"We expect that the legislation would significantly reduce both direct spending and revenues over the 2014-2023 period, but there are major uncertainties regarding how the bill would affect the operations of the Department of the Treasury. Thus, without additional analysis, we cannot determine its net budgetary effect at this time. Under H.R. 2009, the Department of the Treasury would be prohibited from implementing or enforcing any provisions of the [ACA]; however, the bill would not prohibit implementation and enforcement of that act's provisions by other federal agencies." (Congressional Budget Office)  

CBO Analysis of the Administration's Announced Delay of Certain Requirements Under the ACA
"As a result of the Administration's announcement and recently issued final rules, the net cost is now estimated to be $1,375 billion -- $12 billion more than previously estimated. The largest change is a $10 billion reduction in penalty payments by employers [for 2014] that would have been collected in 2015.... Costs for exchange subsidies are expected to increase by $3 billion. Other small changes, including an increase in taxable compensation resulting from fewer people enrolling in employment-based coverage, will offset those increases by about $1 billion ... [R]oughly 1 million fewer people are expected to be enrolled in employment-based coverage in 2014 than the number projected in CBO's May 2013 baseline, primarily because of the one-year delay in penalties on employers." (Congressional Budget Office)  


'Medicare for All' Would Cover Everyone, Save Billions in First Year
"Upgrading the nation's Medicare program and expanding it to cover people of all ages would yield more than a half-trillion dollars in efficiency savings in its first year of operation, enough to pay for high-quality, comprehensive health benefits for all residents of the United States at a lower cost to most individuals, families and businesses." (Physicians for a National Health Program)  


Critics Are Wrong About the Medicare Payment Board
"[O]pposition to the Independent Payment Advisory Board -- created as part of the [ACA] -- continues to mount. And opponents continue to mischaracterize the whole point of the board.... The point of having such a board -- and here [the author] can perhaps speak with some authority, as [he] was present at the creation -- is to create a process for tweaking our evolving payment system in response to incoming data and experience, a process that is more facile and dynamic than turning to Congress for legislation." (Peter Orszag via Bloomberg)  


The BPC Health Care Reform Plan: A Response to Coulam, Feldman and Dowd
"We commend Robert Coulam, Roger Feldman, and Bryan Dowd for bringing attention to competitive bidding in Medicare ... However, we believe the authors missed the mark in their recent Health Affairs Blog analysis of the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) proposal. Most notably, they failed to consider the political realities surrounding competitive bidding.... We believe the BPC approach provides a stronger means to achieve key goals of premium support -- increased competition and promoting the creation of more integrated systems of care -- by not focusing exclusively on competitive bidding and including other significant reforms." (Sheila Burke, Paul Ginsburg, Steven Lieberman, Bill Hoagland, and Katherine Hayes in Health Affairs)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

BLS Employment Cost Index, June 2013
"Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending June 2013, following a similar 3-month percent increase in March ... Wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation costs) rose 0.4 percent in the June quarter, similar to the 0.5 percent increase for the previous period. Benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) increased 0.4 percent, compared to a 0.6 percent increase for the 3-month period ending in March." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)  

Despite Scrutiny, Perks Remain a Key Component of Executive Rewards
"From 2008 to 2013, the number of perquisites offered to executives has declined, although they remain a fairly prevalent -- albeit shrinking -- component of the total rewards package. As various stakeholders have increasingly called for more emphasis on performance-based pay, the percentage of companies offering executive perks has fallen from 95% in 2008 to 85% in 2013." (Towers Watson)  

Press Releases

NASRA Names New Executive Director
NASRA (National Association of State Retirement Administrators)

New Wellness & Health Promotion Programs Raise the Bar
National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)

Cash Balance/401(k) Software Suite from DATAIR
DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.

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