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August 1, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Capella, Inc. in ANY STATE

Absence Management Administrator
for Sandia National Laboratories in CA

Defined Contribution Consultant
for Mercer in IL

Executive Administrative Assistant
for Retirement LLC & Jennings Law Firm in IL

Pension Administrator
for GF Pension Corp. in PA

Project Manager
for Verisight, Inc. in CA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Valuation Challenges for Ongoing ESOPS
October 1, 2013 WEBCAST
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

Becoming S Corporation ESOP
October 8, 2013 WEBCAST
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

5th Annual Leadership Summit on Member Retention & Customer Service for Consumer-based Health Plans
September 19, 2013 in MA
(World Congress)

Use Automatic Rollovers and Missing Participant IRAs to Improve Retirement Plan Performance
August 21, 2013 WEBCAST
(PenChecks, Inc.)

What Trustees in Bankruptcy Need to Know About Pension Plans
September 18, 2013 WEBCAST
(PenChecks, Inc.)

Making the Case for Debit Cards in Retirement Plan Distributions
October 2, 2013 WEBCAST
(PenChecks, Inc.)

Employee Benefits Producer Training Program
September 16, 2013 in WI
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Fusion Forum 2013
August 21, 2013 in WA
(Pension Plan Specialists)

General Fiduciary Provisions/Conflicts of Interest
September 4, 2013 in OH
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Central Ohio)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


  LinkedIn   Twitter   Facebook Hand-picked links to the web's best news articles,
official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Official Guidance]

Text of HHS Request for Comments on Nondiscrimination in Certain Health Programs or Activities
10 pages. Excerpt: "Section 1557 of the [ACA] prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities.... The Department is interested in experiences with, and examples of, discrimination in health programs and activities.... There are different types of health programs and activities. These include health insurance coverage, medical care in a physician's office or hospital, or home health care, for example. What are examples of the types of programs and activities that should be considered health programs or activities under Section 1557 and why?" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  


[Advert.]

Interaction of Health Care Reform with Other Laws: What Employers and Advisors Need to Know

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

This live webinar is critical for employers, counsel and HR professionals to understand and deal with the effects of PPACA on employer obligations and systems. September 18. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.



[Guidance Overview]

Answers to Key Federally Facilitated SHOP Questions for Small Employers
"If an employer has worksites in several states, it may: (1) establish an account in each state where the company has a primary work location for workers; or (2) it may establish an account in one state and use that to provide health insurance for all members of the group. If it does establish accounts in several states, it must submit a separate report on participation rate to each FF-SHOP." (Thompson SmartHR Manager)  

[Guidance Overview]

Final IRS Regs Clarify Who Is Subject to 50% Limit on Meal and Entertainment Expenses
"As the IRS emphasized in the preamble to the earlier proposed regulations, only one party is intended to be subject to the limitation, and there has been controversy over who is subject to it when multiple parties are involved.... The final regulations contain a new definition of reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangement for purposes of Sec. 274(e)(3), independent of the definition for accountable plan purposes in Sec. 62(c). The regulations also clarify that the rules for applying the exceptions to the Secs. 274(a) and (n) deduction limits apply to reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangements with employees, whether or not a payer is an employer." (Journal of Accountancy)  

Health Policy Brief: ACA Premium Tax Credits
Click on "Download Report (PDF)" on the linked page in order to view the full 5-page brief. Excerpt: "Major unresolved issues around the ACA's premium tax credit provisions will begin to play out in the next several months, including the effect that enrollment numbers will have on future premium prices in the individual insurance market, the costs of the subsidies and their impact on the U.S. budget, and the mechanics of administering a complicated program through the untested exchanges." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)  

Wealth -- Not Health -- Driving HSA Balances (PDF)
"[W]hile account balances for HSAs and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) increase with household income, there was little difference in account balances of those who engaged in a variety of health-conscious behaviors, or who participated in a wellness program.... The findings were mixed on health-conscious behaviors; individuals who smoke and those who exercise have more money in their accounts than those who do not smoke or exercise, but obese individuals were found to have less money in their account than the non-obese." (EBRI)  

'Churning': The Latest Watchword for States Working on Health Reform
"[I]ncome fluctuations under the new law next year could produce eligibility shifts between Medicaid and subsidized coverage through the exchanges for as many as 28 million people. Researchers found that those most at risk for fluctuating coverage are seasonal and hourly workers, as well as young adults who are not covered by their jobs or their parents' health plans." (California Healthline)  

'Nursing Mother' Break Requirement Spurs Investigations, Lawsuits
"So far, enforcement efforts appear mainly to have involved the [DOL]. The most-recent statistics released reveal that the agency found one or more violations of the break requirement in two-thirds of the 54 investigations it conducted.... Management should develop a policy for dealing with the break obligation before a worker comes forward with her request. Planning points will include, among others, who will take the lead in evaluating each worker's request, what location(s) will be provided, how management will go about arriving at the appropriate length and number of breaks, and whether there are any unusual or atypical factors to be evaluated ahead of time." (Fisher & Phillips LLP)  

Retiring Early Under ACA: An Unexpected Outcome for Employers?
"Depending on existing post-retirement healthcare options, employees may begin retiring much earlier than expected.... Employers should consider the ramifications of an unexpected wave of early retirements in 2014 as it will be easy for early retirees to receive heavily subsidized health coverage under ACA." (Retirement Town Hall)  

House Panel Votes to Change Medicare Funding Approach
"A key House panel unanimously approved a bill on Wednesday that would replace the formula that pays doctors for each service provided under Medicare with one that rewards providers for high-quality care -- a measure that both sides of the political aisle praised as long overdue. The 51-0 vote by the Committee on Energy and Commerce sends the Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act to the full chamber." (Washington Times)  

The Real Crisis in Employer-Provided Health Insurance
"[W]hat nearly 90% of uninsured workers say is that even if they're eligible for employer-provided health insurance, its cost is too high for them to accept it. Cost has always been a major consideration for those who go uninsured, with figures since 1995 routinely falling within the 70% to 90% range, but cost has been particularly important in the years since the 2008 recession." (DailyFinance)  

Songs and Sunscreen Spread the Health Insurance Message
"New commercials for the Oregon exchange, called Cover Oregon, for example, resemble something from a tourism bureau. In one commercial, the singer Matt Sheehy performs an anthemic song, 'Long Live Oregonians,' that is reminiscent of 'This Land Is Your Land' by Woody Guthrie.... Neither this commercial, nor others featuring the singer Laura Gibson or the hip-hop group Lifesavas, mention insurance, although they do conclude with the exchange's Web address." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Hold the Phone! FMLA Ruling Draws Line on How Much You Can Call Employees on Leave
"[T]he court said employers can ask workers out on FMLA leave to: pass along institutional knowledge to new staff provide computer passwords seek closure on completed assignments, and identify other employees to fill voids. But ask anything other than that of workers on leave, and employers can end up on the losing end of a costly legal battle." [Vess v. Scott Medical Corporation et al., No. 3:11 CV 2549 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 15, 2013)] (HR Benefits Alert)  

Nominate a White House 'Champion of Change' for Public Health and Prevention
"This September, the White House will host a 'Champions of Change' event to celebrate these local change-agents, whose exemplary leadership is helping to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities in our communities. The event will bring together and honor extraordinary individuals who are taking innovative approaches to support longer, healthier lives in communities across the country. These leaders will be invited to the White House to celebrate their accomplishments and showcase their actions to support healthier communities." (The White House Blog)  

Insurers Ask HHS for Grace Period to Comply with Health Exchange Regulations
"[Two] associations representing most health insurers in the United States suggested in comment letters that [HHS] give issuers a 'good faith compliance period' for regulations on standards for the online insurance marketplaces that open for enrollment Oct. 1 ... A one-year moratorium on federal enforcement of marketplace compliance requirements should be granted so HHS can be certain that the information technology is working as intended[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)  

Women's Health Claims in Texas Decline Under New Program
"The number of claims filed for medical and family planning services in the new state-run Texas Women's Health Program has dropped since the state ousted Planned Parenthood from it and set up its own program without federal financing, according to figures from the Health and Human Services Commission." (Kaiser Health News)  

OPM Nominee in Limbo Until Senator Gets Answers on Health Reform
"A Republican senator is blocking the White House's pick to lead the Office of Personnel Management in an effort to force the Obama administration to provide more information on how health care reform will affect congressional staffers.... The [ACA] requires lawmakers and congressional aides in personal offices to drop their insurance coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and enter the newly created exchange market beginning Oct. 1." (Government Executive)  

Communication About Health Care Changes Should Start Soon
"The Oct. 1, 2013, deadline for employers to provide employees with written notice about new health care exchanges should trigger employers' efforts to help their workers understand a wide range of pending health care changes ... Communicating about health care changes gives employers an opportunity to explain what coverage they will offer, demonstrate the value of their benefits packages and emphasize their commitment to employee well-being[.]" (Society for Human Resource Management)  

[Opinion]

White House Graph Doesn't Prove Anything About Obamacare and Part-Time Jobs
"The chart shows that 'average weekly hours' in the restaurant industry increased by about 3% between March 2010, when the health reform law was signed, and May 2013; several other retail categories also show increases. That one fact might be true -- but neither the graph nor the number that ought to be behind it proves anything close to what they are trying to prove." (Avik Roy in Forbes)  

[Opinion]

Opening Statement of Ways and Means Committee Chairman at Hearing on Status of ACA Implementation
Prepared remarks of Rep. Dave Camp (R-TX). Excerpt: "It has been over three years since the law was passed, and in just 60 days the Exchanges are due to be up and running, but we still do not have answers to many crucial questions -- and worse yet, neither do the American people. How is the average, hardworking taxpayer expected to navigate the ObamaCare exchanges in just a few short months when the Administration has provided no information as to what the real cost will be or what their health insurance will look like?" (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)  

[Opinion]

The Significance of the Missing Employer Mandate
"One of the keys to understanding how Obamacare works is the so-called 'firewall.' This is the provision that is supposed to prevent widespread dumping by employers of their workers into the Obamacare exchanges.... The 'firewall' precludes workers who receive an 'affordable' offer of insurance coverage from their employers from getting premium assistance in the exchanges.... Without the firewall, and the related employer mandate, this large differential in federal support would be a magnet drawing lower-wage workers out of job-based health insurance. In short, the employer mandate -- and the firewall it supports -- is highly consequential not because it forces large numbers of employers that do not offer insurance today to do so in the future but because it prevents large numbers of employers now offering coverage from dropping what they offer today." (James C. Capretta in The Weekly Standard)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Windsor Decision Brings Equal Benefits to Some Same-Sex Couples and Compliance Concerns to Employers
"Employers should check with their insurance carrier and legal counsel to determine whether state law requires the carrier to cover same-sex spouses and whether their plan document and summary plan description must be amended to reflect the extended coverage. Employers who extend coverage to same-sex spouses also will have to determine whether employees will be allowed to add a same-sex spouse to a health plan midyear based on the employees' 'change in status.' ... When employers must stop imputing income remains an open question... Employers will likely see an increase in qualified domestic relations orders ('QDROs') resulting from the dissolution of same-sex marriages." (New Jersey Chapter, Association of Corporate Counsel)  

Recent Litigation Provides Lessons for Employers and Executives on Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans
"In the past few years, including 2013, we have seen federal court cases that show both employers and their executives who participate in nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans how to avoid costly litigation and to obtain better protection of NQDC plan benefits in the face of certain financial risks. These risks often are exacerbated by a lack of planning for contingencies that may arise if the employer undergoes a change in control or becomes insolvent.... Two ways to help avoid costly litigation in the future are to (1) design NQDC plans with specific successor liability and change-in-control provisions and (2) fund these plans with rabbi trusts so as to lessen concerns about payouts under the plans." (Bloomberg Law)  

Press Releases

US Labor Department Renews its Memorandum of Understanding with Securities and Exchange Commission
Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor

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