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September 23, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Conversion Consultant
ASPire Financial Services LLC
in FL

Retirement Planning Officer
First Merchants Bank
in IN

Sr. Accountant
Verisight, Inc.
in CA

ERISA Consultant
The Newport Group
in FL, NC

Plan Document Specialist
July Business Services

New Business Consultant
The Retirement Advantage, Inc.
in WI

Sr. Plan Administrator
American National Insurance Company
in TX

Employee Benefits / ERISA Attorney
Hill Ward Henderson
in FL

Client Executive
Transamerica Retirement Solutions
in NY

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Webcasts and Conferences

Obamacare: Will It Work? -- a WonkBlog Debate
September 24, 2013 in DC
(Washington Post)

State of the American Senior: The Changing Retirement Landscape for Baby Boomers
September 25, 2013 in DC
(U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging)

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 CMS Proposed Regs on the Basic Health Program for States: State Administration, Eligibility and Enrollment in Standard Health Plans, Essential Health Benefits in Standard Health Plans
119 pages. Excerpt: "The Basic Health Program provides states the flexibility to establish a health benefits coverage program for low-income individuals who would otherwise be eligible to purchase coverage through the state's Affordable Insurance Exchange ... This proposed rule sets forth a framework for Basic Health Program eligibility and enrollment, benefits, delivery of health care services, transfer of funds to participating states, and federal oversight." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS])  


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[Guidance Overview]

CMS Proposes Basic Health Plan Rule
"The proposed rule sets forth a framework for BHP state plan certification, eligibility and enrollment, standard plan benefits, delivery of services, federal funding for the BHP and transfer of funds to the states, and federal oversight. Because the program is to be coordinated with Medicaid and CHIP and with the exchange-based premium tax credit QHP enrollment program, and for the sake of simplification and efficiency, the proposed rule frequently incorporates existing rules from the Medicaid or the exchange program or gives the states the option of using one set of rules or the other." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)  

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Issue Guidance on Health Care Reform Issues for HRAs, Health FSAs, EAPs, and Plans Purchasing Individual Policies
"This will be a significant disappointment to employers who had hoped to use a pre-tax defined contribution approach to provide coverage with minimal effort. The guidance also puts the final nail in the coffin for many stand-alone HRAs, which can no longer cling to hope that the health FSA exemption from the annual limit rule will save them. Sponsors that have relied on the health FSA exemption should note the September 13 effective date for that portion of the guidance and quickly consider their alternatives. Integrated HRA sponsors may also need to move quickly to add the required opt-out feature." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

[Guidance Overview]

Update on Pre-Taxing Individual Coverage for Employees
"Prior to the Notice, many employers used a premium reimbursement account (PRA) under 125 where the employer made a pre-tax contribution and employees potentially also made pre-tax contributions, and then used those pre-tax funds to purchase individual coverage. The reason why this type of arrangement no longer works under the Notice, is that such an arrangement is included in the definition of an 'employer payment plan' under the Notice. An employer payment plan is any plan that relies on the exclusion from income under Code Section 106." (Kilpatrick Townsend)  

[Guidance Overview]

HIPAA and ACA Compliance Deadlines Approaching for Employers
"New HIPAA privacy rules come into effect September 23 and an [ACA] notice must be distributed to employees by October 1. In addition, as a result of ACA requirements that become effective January 1, 2014, certain Massachusetts employers may need to adjust their health plan pre-tax premium payment arrangements with employees." (Goodwin Procter)  


Form 5500 Reporting Update Webinar - September 27 Webinar

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

This live webinar will help you understand when you need to file a Form 5500 and what you need to file, and will focus on some recent changes that may impact your filings. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.

California Judge Rules Subsidy for Retiree Health Coverage Can't Be Changed by City Ordinance
"A superior court judge overturned a freeze on retiree health care for Los Angeles city [employees] this month, citing some of the same case law that made public pensions a vested right that can only be cut if offset by a new benefit. The court ruling is a blow to the view that state and local governments, when looking for cost savings, may be able to make cuts in promised retiree health care that are not allowed for tamper-proof pensions." (Calpensions)  

Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices
"Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama's health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.... And those health care providers will, in many cases, be paid less than what they have been receiving from commercial insurers." (Robert Pear in The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Some Private Health Exchanges Creating Tremors for Insurers in Healthcare Shakeup
"American companies are ... moving a rapidly growing number of employees onto privately run online exchanges for their medical coverage.... [Those] decisions are threatening to shift more power in the market to the benefit consulting firms opening many of the exchanges. Health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers who have traditionally had a more direct relationship with the employers could lose out to the nascent marketplaces.... Competition for customers will be fiercer and employees may buy lower-priced plans, so their carefully managed profit margins could suffer." (Reuters)  

Health Care Reform: Top 5 Things Employers Need to Focus On Now
"Are you subject to the employer mandate? ... Will new health plan fees affect you? ... Are you withholding the additional .9% Medicare tax? ... Are you ready to provide the marketplace (exchange) notice to all employees by October 1, 2013? ... Does your wellness program comply with the new regulations?" (Leonard Street and Deinard)  

White House Seeks to Ease Obamacare Fraud Fears
"Senior administration officials acknowledged the potential for scams with any new government program, including the Obamacare marketplaces ... But they stressed that the health law's new 'navigators' -- federally-paid groups that help people enroll in coverage -- do not represent a significant risk and that Medicare has used such guides for years without problems or controversy." (MedPage Today)  

House Republicans Unveil Replacement for ACA
"The comprehensive bill includes a number of proposals Republicans long have backed to expand access and hold down the cost of health care, including: ... [1] Allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together to purchase insurance; [2] Providing a tax deduction of $7,500 for individuals against their income and payroll taxes to purchase approved coverage, regardless of the cost of the insurance -- families could deduct $20,000; [3] Eliminating the tax exclusion for employer provided health coverage; [and] [4] Expanding access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into them[.]" (HR Policy Association)  

Obamacare Isn't Really Taking Away Jobs: Cleveland Clinic Edition
"[T]he 'Obamacare is killing jobs' story isn't really accurate. It's not totally false -- the Cleveland Clinic will in fact take in less money because of the law -- but it's a more complicated story about changes in medicine.... 'We felt health-care reform was absolutely necessary,' [Eileen Sheil, the clinic's Executive Director of Corporate Communications] said. 'This is the new normal. This is where hospitals have to focus to be viable in the long run. This is not doomsday for the clinic. We're still growing -- we're still hiring.'" (The Atlantic)  


Obamacare Now Set to Attack Self-Funding for Small Businesses
"The administration and their think tanks are now referring to the 1974 law called ERISA as a 'loophole' and a threat. The concern it appears, is that if companies who work hard to keep a healthy workforce aren't there to subsidize the other companies in the Obamacare pool, rates will spike.... There will be no incentive for small businesses or their employees to take any personal accountability to control health care costs. What's the point, we are 'spreading the cost around'[.]" (William Gallagher Associates)  


How the Left and the Right View the Race to the Bottom
"Imagine an idealized model of the health insurance marketplace in which there are only three sets of variables: Premiums, Covered benefits, [and] Access to providers ... Now, you could conceivably have market competition for all three sets of variables. You could also have government regulate all three. But if you want robust competition, you can only regulate one of them." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  


Waiting for Obamacare
"Delay may feel like one more Republican strategy, but that doesn't necessarily make it unwise. If we can delay sending cruise missiles to Syria pending a better solution, perhaps there's some sense to delaying a health-care overhaul that creates unacceptable collateral damage to citizens and that is not quite ready for public consumption." (Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  


A Guide to Freaking Out About the Newest Obamacare Glitch
"[T]he marketplaces are incredibly complex technological systems, ones that have to take in data from numerous state and federal sources and crunch them all together to figure out who qualifies for what health-care programs. That complexity has proven to be a challenge for building the data hub. So ... in some places, it might be possible to download an application and explore rates, but difficult to complete the purchase of a health-care plan." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  


The Two Most Important Numbers in American Health Care
"The two most important numbers in American health care are 5 and 50. Five percent of people account for about 50 percent of the health system's spending. Given that health-care spending is almost one-fifth of our economy, that means the health problems of 15 million Americans are consuming almost one-tenth of our GDP -- around $1.5 trillion. The conclusion is clear: If you want to cut costs -- and relieve suffering -- you somehow need to help that 5 percent." (Ezra Klein in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Annual Proxy Considerations in Executive Compensation (PDF)
"Preparing to file of an annual proxy statement raises many questions for HR teams, executives, and directors, particularly compensation committee members. As a concise summary, this chart addresses some of the more common and significant questions raised in this process for a larger NYSE- or NASDAQ-listed company." (Steven Hall & Partners)  

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Proposes Rules for CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure
"[1] Disclosure required in Form 10-K would be permitted to be incorporated from subsequently filed proxy statement. [2] Median determination would be with respect to all employees of the company and its subsidiaries as of the last day of prior fiscal year, including part-time, temporary, seasonal and non-U.S. employees.... [3] After identifying the median employee, companies would be required to apply the proxy pay calculation rules to calculate the pay of only that employee and the CEO to determine the pay ratio." (Dechert LLP)  

[Guidance Overview]

The Five Most Important Things Companies Need to Know and Do About the SEC's Proposed CEO Pay Ratio Rules
"[T]he SEC has provided companies with substantial flexibility ... for determining employee compensation and has allowed the use of simplified compensation measures to identify the company's median employee ... The rules are most inflexible and administratively expensive and burdensome in requiring that all employees of a company and its subsidiaries (broadly defined) be taken into account in identifying the median employee ... During the next 60 days, companies should determine how they would go about gathering and analyzing the information necessary to comply with the rules and should file comments with the SEC discussing the costs and burdens of doing so, using the SEC's 69 requests for comments as a guide." (The Conference Board)  

SEC Issues Proposed Rule on Pay Ratio Disclosure
"Commissioner Gallagher noted that the rule is broadly construed and, if finalized, will have a negative competitive impact that could disproportionately fall on U.S. companies with large work forces and global operations.... Commissioner Piwowar expressed concerns that the pay ratio disclosure is not a relevant indicator of a company's economic strength and could ultimately stifle capital formation and harm investors by providing them with distracting and misleading information. Even Commissioner Aguilar, who ultimately voted in favor of the proposed rule, acknowledged that superfluous benchmarking based on the disclosures could result in 'economic decisions that are not economically efficient.'" (Ballard Spahr)  

DOL Joins IRS in Recognizing All Legal Same-Sex Marriages for Federal Tax and ERISA Purposes
"It is important to recognize that this guidance does not apply to non-ERISA rules under the DOL's purview. For example, it does not affect the recently revised DOL Wage and Hour Division fact sheet, under which a state-of-domicile rule applies for FMLA purposes ... This could lead to complexity where the different sets of rules interact. But it is certainly welcome news for plan administrators that same-sex marriages are treated the same for purposes of ERISA and the Code." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

Guarding Fiduciaries and Optimizing Committees
"Traditionally, benefit plan committees oversaw administration, investments -- everything to do with sponsoring and administering an employer-sponsored plan. However, as financial responsibilities have changed, so have committee dynamics ... [It] is best to have one committee for administration oversight and a separate committee for investment selection and oversight. If a plan sponsor does have a blended committee, each member should understand his or her role and whether they are acting in a fiduciary capacity or not." (PLANADVISER.com)  


A Better Way to Compare CEO Pay
"[T]he new rule will do little to help shareholders understand whether the executive pay awarded by their companies is appropriate and if not, how off the charts it is. A far more meaningful comparison for regulators is the peer groups public companies choose to use as benchmarks when setting their pay packages. These peer groups, which are supposed to include similar companies, often don't." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

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