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September 3, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

DC Relationship Manager
Trinity Pension Consultants, Inc.
in OH

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
Carroll Consultants, Ltd.
in PA

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
Wells Thomas, LLC
in CT

Operations Analyst
Western & Southern Financial Group
in OH

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Webcasts and Conferences

Financing an ESOP Transaction
November 12, 2013 WEBCAST
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

2013 Fall Forum
November 18, 2013 in NV

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What?
November 21, 2013 in IA
(Lorman Education Services)

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

Know Your Rights: Breastfeeding in the Workplace
"[T]he Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division [has] published an employee rights card that outlines the FLSA's basic requirements for break time, lists resources where additional information can be found (including a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone), and shares how to file a complaint with the division if an employee feels her rights have been violated. We encourage you to visit the nursing mothers section of the Wage and Hour Division's website, download the new employee rights card and help us spread the word about these resources. There is also a link that allows other agencies and stakeholders to share the card through their websites." (DOL Blog)  


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]

IRS Publishes Final Health Reform Individual Shared Responsibility Rules
"Employers can expect that employee choices about enrolling in employer-sponsored group health coverage will be influenced by the impending obligation to enroll in coverage or pay the individual shared responsibility tax ... [E]mployee concern about these exposures will prompt many employees to carefully scrutinize and in some cases question the information and implications of information provided by the employer or its plan ... [E]mployers and their employee benefit plan fiduciaries and administrators should use extra care to ensure that these and other plan documents and communications are carefully and precisely tailored to accurately convey all material plan terms." (Solutions Law Press)  

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Final Regs on Individual Mandate Penalty, Including Guidance on Eligible Employer-Sponsored Plans
"The broad definition of eligible employer-sponsored plan would seem to encompass typical employer-provided programs (other than plans providing solely HIPAA-excepted benefits). But for some employers, offering subsidies for employees to purchase individual market coverage (for example, under a private exchange arrangement) could be a simple and effective way to make health coverage available; these employers would welcome guidance on this issue." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

[Guidance Overview]

Details on the ACA Program Integrity and Appeals Rule
"The rule adopts the position that geographic rating area is determined in the small group market by using the [principal] business location of the group policyholder and in the individual market by using the address of the primary policy holder, regardless of where other individuals covered by the policy live.... HHS modifies the proposed rule to provide that QHPs outside the exchange that are 'substantially the same' as a QHP in the exchange can participate in the risk corridor program.... The rule next confirms that, as already noted in guidance, states may operate SHOP-only exchanges, leaving the individual exchange for the federal government to run." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)  

HHS Describes Employer Process to Undo Exchanges' Decisions
"The rule is important for large employers seeking to challenge exchange determinations that their coverage was unaffordable or failed to deliver on minimum value.... [T]he final rule changes the proposal by allowing employees whose eligibility is re-determined as a result of an employer appeal to appeal that redetermination. The rule also describes how small businesses can challenge denied attempts to buy coverage through a Small Business Health Options Program, and describes program integrity standards for exchanges and SHOPs themselves." (Thompson SmartHR Manager)  


Member Retention and Customer Service for Consumer-Based Health Plans - Sept. 19-20 - Boston

Sponsored by World Congress

Health plan executives and industry thought leaders discuss actionable strategies in the transformation to a consumer-driven and customer-focused health plan marketplace.

Complex Personal Issues May Cloud Decisions About Buying Insurance
"[W]hat's striking is the complexity of some of the health insurance dilemmas people are trying to sort out. Getting them answers will be no simple task. The so-called enrollment assisters whose job it will be to help people understand their options and compare plans -- navigators, certified application counselors, brokers and others -- are going to have their work cut out for them. Expect families, with their sometimes complicated legal and financial connections, to present especially messy insurance snarls to untangle[.]" (Kaiser Health News)  

Holding Health Care Accountable
"53 percent [of employers] said moving toward provider payment models that promote cost-effective, high-quality health care will be a part of their future health care strategy. In fact, one in five identified the trend as one of their three highest priorities. And although just 14 percent of employers polled currently use models like patient-centered medical homes, 61 percent plan to do so in the next few years." (Society for Human Resource Management)  

ACA Could Be Good Rx for Commercial Real Estate
"The new law is turning health care into a growth sector that real estate investors cannot ignore ... Starting next year, the law is expected to extend health-care services to 30 million to 50 million more people, greatly increasing demand for medical office space and medical facilities, as well as certain types of senior housing and care facilities." (Pensions & Investments)  

These Two Maps Are Incredibly Important to Obamacare
"If you want to understand where Obamacare stands to have the most significant impact, check out these new maps from the Census. They show uninsured levels for every county in the United States, broken down by income level ... First, they underscore the significant impact that state policy will have on the [ACA].... Second, these maps explain why you see a group like Enroll America focusing its work on 10 states, rather than sweeping out across the country." (Sarah Kliff, in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

ACA Expected to Cause Few Benefits Disruptions
"[I]nsurers don't seem to be cutting back on services. They can substitute alternatives within a specific benefits category as long as they are providing a benefit that's substantially equivalent to the benchmark.... Virginia officials ... told insurers that although the practice was permitted, 'such substitutions may result in significant delays in the review of their form and rate filings.' Many of the insurers reported that substituting benefits wasn't worth the trouble, because it presented too much of an administrative headache." (American Medical News)  

Health Insurance Information Frictions, Plan Choice, and Consumer Welfare
"[C]onsumers lack information on many important dimensions that they are typically assumed to understand, perceive high plan hassle costs, and make choices that depend on these frictions.... [I]ncorporating measures of these frictions leads to meaningful reductions in estimated consumer risk aversion.... [The authors] assess the welfare impact of a counterfactual menu design and find that the welfare loss from risk exposure when additional frictions are not taken into account is more than double that when they are[.]" (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER])  

Employee Satisfaction with Health Coverage and Care Depends on Plan Design
"While the percentage of HDHP enrollees reporting that they were extremely or very satisfied with the quality of care received increased between 2005 and 2009, satisfaction levels held steady from 2007 to 2012, aside from a drop in 2010.... Traditional-plan enrollees were more likely than CDHP and HDHP enrollees to be extremely or very satisfied with their overall plan in all years of the survey. In 2012, 62 percent of traditional-plan enrollees were extremely or very satisfied with their overall health plans, compared with 48 percent of CDHP enrollees and 38 percent of HDHP enrollees." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])  

GOP Lawmakers Demand Information from Groups Getting Navigator Grants
"15 Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking recipients of the $67 million in health law navigator grants to brief the panel on how they intend to spend the money. The Aug. 29 letter directs the grantees to schedule a meeting no later than Sept. 13 and to provide additional documentation, including a written description of the work they intend to do, the number of employees and volunteers, their duties and how much they'll be paid." (Kaiser Health News)  

The Bros Might Just Sign Up for Obamacare Yet
"The conventional wisdom says that young adults ... will prove the hardest demographic to sign up for coverage under Obamacare. Rich Hamer, who just completed a survey of more than 3,500 uninsured Americans, thinks the conventional wisdom is wrong. His research finds, surprisingly, that young adults might be the easiest recruits." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Top Florida Health Insurer Touts Obamacare Pain Relief
"Florida's leading health insurer is reaching out to hundreds of thousands of state residents, touting temporary relief from what it describes as an imminent spike in premium rates due to President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law.... Florida's insurance regulators have said the cost of new insurance plans may rise 30 to 40 percent when compared with a fictional 2013 plan modeled to include the same benefits." (Reuters)  


Labor's Love Lost Over Obamacare?
"[J]ust months before key ACA provisions go into effect, Obamacare is backfiring in multiple ways on a labor movement already battered and bruised. Contrary to repeated White House assurances, many unionized workers now face more, rather than fewer, health plan problems and costs. Alarmed by Obama administration decisions and ACA provisions unfriendly to labor, top union leaders now fear that Obamacare will create 'nightmare scenarios' for millions of workers, retirees, and their families." (The Huffington Post)  


An ACA Navigator Massive Open Online Course: Using The Emerging U.S. Health Care System
"Many observers claim that we do not have a true 'healthcare system' in the United States. Instead we have fragmentation across multiple dimensions resulting in unsustainable cost increases, compromised quality, and growing inequity. Streams of public, private, and individual funding for health care -- each with their own rules, requirements, and information needs -- are further complicated by unsynchronized provider organizations in hundreds of cities and thousands of communities across the country. This byzantine approach has also created a cottage industry of specialists whose sole job is to navigate these requirements and make sure that patients know their health insurance options, can enroll in coverage, and get access to the services that they are entitled to." (Peter Long, in Health Affairs Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Details Benefit Parity for Same-Sex Spouses, but Creates Some Unpleasant Consequences
"Not all of the consequences of Federal tax recognition of same-sex marriage are positive. Under the Affordable Care Act, couples in a legal same-sex marriage now must combine their incomes for purposes of determining eligibility for premium tax credits and cost sharing on the healthcare exchanges, beginning in 2014. This may prevent some persons in same-sex marriages from receiving federal financial aid they would have qualified for, as unmarried individuals." (E is for ERISA)  

[Guidance Overview]

IRS and Treasury Recognize Same-Sex Marriage for Federal Tax Purposes Using a 'State of Celebration' Rule (PDF)
"The Revenue Ruling significantly streamlines benefit plan administration. By permitting plans to treat all legally married couples the same, regardless of their current state of residence or work, the Revenue Ruling eliminates the need for multiple benefit administration schemes at the federal level.... Notably, the Revenue Ruling and FAQs provide a different marriage recognition standard than the [DOL's] guidance regarding the [FMLA], leading to some continuing inconsistency with respect to treatment of same-sex couples." (Paul Hastings LLP)  

[Guidance Overview]

A Marriage Made in Washington: Treasury and IRS Recognize Same-Sex Marriages for Tax Purposes (PDF)
"At this time the Ruling may not be relied upon retroactively with respect to matters relating to qualified retirement plans and certain other arrangements. The IRS has promised future guidance on how Windsor and the Ruling will apply to cafeteria plans, qualified retirement plans and other tax-favored arrangements for periods prior to September 16, 2013.... The Ruling indicates that future guidance will take into account the impact of retroactivity on all taxpayers involved, including plans, plan sponsors, employers, employees and affected beneficiaries, and will provide sufficient time for qualified plans to be amended and corrected as necessary to preserve existing favorable tax treatment." (Sutherland)  

[Guidance Overview]

Treasury and IRS Issue Ruling Clarifying Tax Treatment of Employee Benefits for Same-Sex Couples
"[A] qualified retirement plan will be required to provide spousal consent rights to the spouse of an employee in a legal same-sex marriage even if the couple resides in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage.... While the federal tax treatment for health plans has been clarified, the state tax treatment remains unclear. The Ruling does not necessarily change state tax laws regarding the treatment of same-sex couples. This could result in difficulty for employers, especially those with operations in multiple states." (Quarles & Brady LLP)  

Defense Research Institute Submits Amicus Brief to Supreme Court Addressing ERISA Statute of Limitations
"In her brief on the merits, Mrs. Heimeshoff has argued that plans should not be allowed to impose a limitations period that begins before the claimant exhausts administrative remedies and is able to file suit because doing so could allow the limitations period to waste away while the claimant is going through the plan's administrative review process. In its amicus brief on the merits DRI supported the Hartford's position, which is consistent with well settled statutory and contractual principles that the clear terms of a plan must be upheld and that courts should not re-write unambiguous terms of a plan. DRI argued that the protections of the administrative claims process that are guaranteed through the Department of Labor's claims procedure regulations and relevant case law make the hypothetical concerns predicted by Mrs. Heimeshoff to be highly unlikely, and should they occur, the mechanism of equitable tolling employed by federal courts is an adequate means to address the matter." (Defense Research Institute [DRI])  

Florida Pension Manager Pushes Back Against Executive Compensation
"Officials at the Florida State Board of Administration [FSBA] toughened their proxy-voting stand against compensation packages for CEOs and other top executives in the past year ... According to its global proxy voting report issued in August, the FSBA, which oversees $165 billion, voted against management on 18.5% of 24,261 proposals at 2,876 U.S. companies in the 12 months ended June 30. The votes against management were down slightly (from 19%) over the previous year." (Pensions & Investments)  

New U.K. 'Employee Shareholder' Rules Incorporate Waiver of Certain Employment Claims
"Provided the necessary formalities are complied with, employee shareholders will have no right to claim for ordinary unfair dismissal, a redundancy payment, or request flexible working or leave to undertake study or training. In addition, an employee shareholder will be required to give a minimum of 16 weeks? notice of early return from maternity or additional paternity leave, rather than the standard eight and six week requirement." (McDermott Will & Emery)  

Text of IRS Chief Counsel Memorandum on Reporting Requirements for Attorney's Fees Paid to Employee Pursuant to Settlement Agreements (PDF)
"In the absence of a specific allocation for attorney's fees in these settlement agreements, attorney's fees paid by an employer as part of a settlement agreement with a former employee, which are includable in income, are subject to employment taxes to the extent they are wages attributable to an employment-related claim. The Service's position is that payments constituting severance pay, back pay, and front pay are wages for employment tax purposes." (Internal Revenue Service)  

Press Releases

Principal's Zimpleman Named 2013 EBRI Lillywhite Award Winner
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

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