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August 7, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

ERISA Attorney
for USI Consulting Group in CT

Technical Director, Product
for Nationwide in OH

Benefits Supervisor
for Sonepar USA in SC

DC Administrator
for TPA Firm in Center Valley, PA in PA

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Webcasts and Conferences

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

Interaction of Health Care Reform with Other Laws: What Employers and Advisors Need to Know -- Webinar
September 18, 2013 WEBCAST
(Lorman Education Services)

Small Business Health Insurance Options Program (SHOP) Overview -- Webcast
August 22, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

What the New Healthcare Law Means for Your Small Business -- Webcast
August 15, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

2013 Webinar: HSA Basics
August 15, 2013 WEBCAST
(Ascensus)

"Rate Shock" - Or Not? -- Webcast
August 13, 2013 WEBCAST
(Alliance for Health Reform)

ACA Implementation With Gail Wilensky And Tim Jost -- Podcast with Chris Fleming
August 21, 2013 WEBCAST
(Health Affairs)

Governance of Tax-Qualified Retirement Plans -- Recorded Webinar
August 22, 2013 WEBCAST
(Bryan Cave LLP)

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 OPM Proposed Regs for Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: Members of Congress and Congressional Staff (PDF)
"[H]ealth benefits plans for which OPM can contract under chapter 89 are not 'created under' the ACA, nor are they offered through the Exchanges. Therefore, Members of Congress and congressional staff who are employed by the official office of a Member of Congress may no longer purchase the health benefits plans for which OPM contracts under chapter 89. As part of their service, they are limited to purchasing plans from Exchanges. This proposed rule implements this mandate.... Because there are now employees covered by chapter 89 who will be purchasing health benefits plans on Exchanges, we believe that it is appropriate to clarify that the provisions that authorize an employer contribution for 'health benefits plans under this chapter,' and authorize the continuation of such coverage into retirement, includes all health benefits plans fitting within the definition set forth in 8901(6)." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management)  


[Advert.]

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Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP)

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[Official Guidance]

Inspector General Describes Status of Health Insurance Exchange Data Services Hub (PDF)
"CMS is addressing and testing security controls of the Hub during the development process. However, several critical tasks remain to be completed in a short period of time, such as the final independent testing of the Hub's security controls, remediating security vulnerabilities identified during testing, and obtaining the security authorization decision for the Hub before opening the exchanges. CMS's current schedule is to complete all of its tasks by October 1, 2013, in time for the expected initial open enrollment period." (Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Repeals Portions of State Health Care Reform Law
"The good news for employers ... is that, until January 2015, there will be an 18-month period during which they will not be subject to either state or federal penalties if they do not offer employees health insurance. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick reportedly believes that during this interim period employers in the state will not take advantage of the hiatus to stop offering employees health insurance, but if they did, that the legislature would take action to reinstate provisions to counteract that trend." (Jackson Lewis LLP)  

State of Texas Tells Feds: We Won't Enforce Insurance Reforms
"Though Texas will join 26 other states in defaulting to a federal marketplace for purchasing health insurance -- a major component of the Affordable Care Act -- it is one of only six that will not enforce new health insurance reforms prescribed by the law. It's a decision some say could lead to confusion over who's responsible for protecting Texas insurance consumers." (The Texas Tribune)  

New Report Challenges Basic Assumptions About Reforming Payment in Health Care
"The report draws on a large body of research that shows external incentives designed to change simple behaviors, like improving productivity in rote tasks, do not work for more complex behaviors. They can actually be harmful when used for complex behaviors, undermining assets like creativity and drive, which are essential to the success of health professionals and workers in other nuanced fields." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)  

Stunning Cost Savings in California When Wellpoint Implements 'Reference Pricing'
"WellPoint created a network ... consisting of the 46 facilities. There was no special negotiation with these hospitals, however. WellPoint simply encouraged their enrollees to go to there. Patients were free to go to elsewhere, but they were told in advance that WellPoint would pay no more than $30,000 for a joint replacement outside the network.... Beginning in 2010, [these patients] undoubtedly told the providers they had only $30,000 to spend. As the figure shows, the cost of care at these hospitals was cut by one-third in the first year and continued heading toward the average 'network' price over the next two years." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  

Importance of Employer-Sponsored Voluntary Benefits and Services Expected to Surge
"[T]he percentage of employers that expect VBS to be very important to their total rewards strategy will more than double over the next five years, jumping to 48% in 2018 from the current 21%. The primary reasons companies adopt these voluntary options are to provide personalized benefits that fit employees' needs and lifestyles (83%), and to enrich their total rewards packages (74%)." (Towers Watson)  

Healthcare Reform Designed to Fight Obesity, First Lady Says
"One of the driving goals behind healthcare reform is curbing obesity among children in the U.S., according to First Lady Michelle Obama ... The First Lady argued that healthcare reform alone would not be enough to curb the [obesity] epidemic, but that regular checkups and healthy relationships between doctors and patients would also be integral. Increased availability of affordable healthcare coverage, which will include access to health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, has been the driving force behind the reform." (ConnectYourCare)  

Religious Objections to ACA Multiply
"[L]awyers in one of the two divided circuits chose Wednesday to seek en banc review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit instead of a swifter trip from the panel decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, other splits may develop as cases in the Sixth and Seventh circuits are expected to be decided soon, said S. Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. 'Those panels seemed to be leaning heavily in one direction or another,' Duncan said. 'We may see decisions by the end of August deepening the split.'" (National Law Journal)  


[Advert.]

ERISA Litigation Congress -- September 9-10 -- New York, NY

Sponsored by Momentum Events

A forum for counsel for plan sponsors, plan administrators and insurance companies to network with peers and leaders of ERISA bar, this event will focus on all the current litigation trends and ERISA compliance challenges facing companies today.



HHS Sec. Sibelius Describes Next Steps in Implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace
"[HHS has added] a new feature to HealthCare.gov that allows people to create a personal account -- including a username and password -- which is the first step to enroll in new coverage options in the Marketplace.... [HHS has also launched] a call center specifically to serve small businesses interested in the SHOP Marketplace.... [T]his SHOP Marketplace Call Center is a new resource to help them get information to make the best decisions for their employees. It's open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm and hours will expand after October 1, with customer service representatives available to help in English and Spanish." (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, via U.S. Small Business Administration)  

Obamacare Security Testing Is Months Behind, OIG Report Says
"The federal government is running out of wiggle room. Fifty-six days before the marketplaces launch, delays paired with a massive workload have created an incredibly tight schedule.... [But] Medicare spokesman Brian Cook [said], 'We are on schedule and will be ready for the Marketplaces to open on October 1. This study was conducted in May, and we have made significant progress in the three months since then. CMS has extensive experience building and operating information technology systems that handle sensitive data. This experience comes from many years administering the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs.'" (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

HHS Running Behind Schedule in Testing Data Security
"The missed deadlines have pushed the government's decision on whether information technology security is up to snuff to exactly one day before that crucial date ... 'They've removed their margin for error,' said Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the non-profit Center for Democracy & Technology. 'There is huge pressure to get (the exchanges) up and running on time, but if there is a security incident they are done. It would be a complete disaster from a PR viewpoint.' The most likely serious security breach would be identity theft, in which a hacker steals the social security numbers and other information people provide when signing up for insurance." (Reuters)  

Obamacare Supporters Go Door-Knocking, But It Might Not Work
"Recent successful efforts to get large numbers of people signed up for benefits have relied heavily on automatic enrollment and in-person assistance ... During the health care overhaul in Massachusetts, about 1 in 4 of the state's newly-insured residents were auto-enrolled because they were already in the state's 'free care pool' database ... Among consumers for whom applications were required, more than half were completed by providers and others acting on the consumers' behalf." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

[Opinion]

Best of Both Worlds: Uniting Universal Coverage and Personal Choice in Health Care
"We propose an approach to health insurance reform that promotes high-quality, fiscally sustainable health care for all.... First, we allow and encourage insurance companies to charge individualized premiums to consumers that reflect their true health care costs.... Second, to ensure that offers of insurance are affordable, we propose government-financed premium supports.... Third, we propose eliminating the practical and legal barriers to multiyear (long-term) health insurance contracts.... Fourth, we propose to abolish the tax preference for employer-sponsored health insurance plans." (American Enterprise Institute)  

[Opinion]

Obamacare Isn't Destroying Jobs
"[M]any of the jobs added in recent months have been part-time, and this has led critics of Obamacare to argue that the implementation of health-care reform is the culprit.... The share of part-time jobs rose sharply during the recession, as it always does -- employers always cut workers' hours in downturns. Here's the question: Has this share continued to grow as we approach the start of the ACA's employer mandate, which was recently pushed back a year to 2015? The answer is no. Part-time workers represent 19.0 percent of total employment -- below the post-recession peak of 20.0 percent and exactly the same as a year ago." (Jared Bernstein and Paul Van De Water, in Politico)  

[Opinion]

Why John Goodman Likes Jason Furman
"In a 2008 paper, the new Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors says that the ideal way to encourage private insurance is by means of a refundable tax credit. The explanation reads like it could have been written by John McCain or by yours truly. If only the president had listened three years ago." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  

[Opinion]

Getting Frank with Robert Frank
"[Robert Frank said, in a recent article,] 'We must ask those who would repeal ObamaCare how they propose to solve the adverse-selection problem.' ... For the past several years, federally sponsored risk pools all over the country have allowed people with pre-existing conditions to pay the same premiums as healthy people and obtain health insurance. And about 107,000 people have been able to do this without interfering with the premiums of anyone else. Voila! We solved the problems of 107,000 without requiring anything (other than about $6 billion in taxes) from the other 330 million." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Same-Sex Spouse Has Right to Pension Benefits Under ERISA
"What is particularly interesting about the Court's analysis [in Cozen O'Connor v. Tobits] is the fact that Illinois does not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Arguably, then, the Court could have concluded that Illinois does not recognize 'same-sex marriage' under its laws. However, Illinois does have a civil union statute. The court opined that because Illinois recognizes civil unions, it effectively recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions (such as Canada). The analysis under Tobits appears to not be whether the couple lives in a state that allows same-sex couples to be married, but rather, whether the couple lives in a state that effectively recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions." (Crowell Moring)  

Long-Term Incentive Plans at a Crossroads in the Health Care Sector
"[T]he prevalence of [long-term incentive (LTI)] plans in both hospital systems and independent hospitals is increasing. What's more, many more organizations are considering implementing these plans, and the gap in opportunity levels between systems and stand-alone hospitals is closing. Currently, approximately 30%-40% of systems and 15%-20% of independent hospitals offer an LTI plan to a select group of executives. [The authors] estimate that an additional 15%-20% of health care organizations are actively considering adding an LTI plan in the near future." (Towers Watson)  

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