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September 26, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Internal Wholesaler

Pension Administrator
Alliance Pension Consultants, LLC
in IL

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Webcasts and Conferences

2013 Advisor Conference
October 7, 2013 in TX
(Center for Due Diligence)

ERISA Workshop 2013 - Houston
October 24, 2013 in TX
(SunGard Relius)

ERISA Workshop 2013 - Cincinnati
October 25, 2013 in OH
(SunGard Relius)

Industry Update: Finally, Clarity on Defined Contribution -- Recorded
September 30, 2013 WEBCAST
(Health Partners America)

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official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Guidance Overview]

DOL and Treasury/IRS Opine on Integrated and Non-Integrated HRAs, Medical FSAs, and EAPs
"For purposes of regulating HRAs and medical FSAs the Departments introduce and define a new term, 'employer payment plan' ... The effect of the guidance is to make it impossible for any employer payment plan other than a plan that provides only excepted benefits ... to provide for the purchase of health coverage in the individual market." (Mintz Levin)  


23rd Annual National Health Benefits Conference & Expo

Sponsored by HBCE- Health Benefits Conference & Expo

Jan.28-29 in Florida. Sessions: IBM, L.L. Bean, Southern Co, City of Houston, Quad/Graphics (Onsite Clinic since 1990), Univ of Iowa and Ala, Sarasota and Anoka Co, Eastman Chemical, Chesapeake Energy, Palm Beach Co Schools, Crowley Corp, etc.Best value.

[Guidance Overview]

Some Employers Need to Start ACA Measurement Periods in 2013
"Now is the time to determine controlled group makeup and to make sure that 2014 records will capture all of the necessary information to identify full-time employees.... For employers with calendar year plans and a desire to use 12-month measurement and stability periods, the measurement period will need to begin in 2013 for the employer to be ready for employer shared responsibility compliance by January 1, 2015.... It is currently unclear whether non-calendar year plans will be required to comply with the employer shared responsibility provisions by January 1, 2015, or will be able to wait until the plan year that begins during 2015." (Perkins Coie LLP)  

[Guidance Overview]

New Maryland Law Requiring Accommodations for Pregnant Employees Becomes Effective October 1, 2013
"If a pregnant employee requests a reasonable accommodation, the Act requires that an employer explore certain reasonable accommodations with the employee, specifically including as follows: [1] Changing the employee's job duties; [2] Changing the employee's work hours; [3] Relocating the employee's work area; [4] Providing mechanical or electrical aids; [5] Transferring the employee to a less strenuous or less hazardous position; or [6] Providing the employee with leave from his or her position." (Saul Ewing LLP)  

Finding Consensus on Policies to Slow Health Spending Growth
"Over the past year, several prominent groups have proposed policy options to contain costs and transform the health care delivery system.... [E]xamination revealed substantial agreement on areas where action is needed. Moreover, even where the reports differ on specific recommendations, they are close enough to suggest commonality among these approaches to slowing health spending through health system reform." (The Commonwealth Fund)  

Cost-Sharing Charges in Marketplace Health Insurance Plans (PDF)
"[S]ome people receiving premium tax credits to help pay their premiums will also receive cost-sharing reductions to help them pay their cost-sharing charges. These subsidies will reduce the deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket charges that people eligible for cost-sharing reductions will pay when they use benefits covered by their health plan.... Specific cost-sharing charges will vary from silver plan to silver plan with the same actuarial value; in most states, insurers have significant flexibility to set these charges." (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities)  

California's Uninsured on the Eve of ACA Open Enrollment
"About two-thirds [of California's eligible uninsured] have been without health insurance for at least two years. One in five say they've never had health insurance. Cost remains the primary reason ... followed by job loss.... [S]even in ten (70 percent) say that as of late August, before the start of the most intensive phase of outreach, they don't yet have enough information about the ACA to understand how it will impact them in concrete terms." (Kaiser Family Foundation)  

Understanding State Variation In Health Insurance Dynamics Can Help Tailor Enrollment Strategies for ACA Expansion
"The number and types of people who become eligible for and enroll in the [ACA's] health insurance expansions will depend in part on the factors that cause people to become uninsured for different lengths of time.... [N]early 50 percent of the nonelderly adult population in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas -- but only 18 percent in Massachusetts and 22 percent in Vermont -- experienced an uninsured spell between 2009 and 2012. Compared to people who lost private coverage, those with public insurance were more likely to experience an uninsured spell, but their spells of uninsurance were shorter." (Health Affairs)  

Health Insurers Scramble to Keep Healthy Customers
"Health insurers are making a big push to hang onto their policyholders ahead of new government-run exchanges expected to roll out next week, but state regulators have accused some of misleading those customers in the process. Several insurers ... have recently warned customers of big rate hikes if they don't immediately renew their policies for 2014.... In some cases, the regulators say, insurers aren't making it clear to consumers that they may switch carriers or shop on the new exchanges." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

D.C.'s Obamacare Fail: Prices Won't Work Until November
"While the D.C. Health Link will launch a Web site on October 1, shoppers will not have access to the their premium prices until mid-November. The delay comes after the District marketplace discovered 'a high error rate' in calculating the tax credits that low- and middle-income people will use to purchase insurance on the marketplace." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Six Days to Health Insurance Exchange Launch: How Will Insurance Exchanges Benefit Employers?
"Results from a survey of more than 100 large employers ... reveal that companies are looking to the online marketplaces to help them save on a variety of health-related benefit costs. These include benefit options for part-time and retired workers, as well as furloughed workers who currently rely on COBRA coverage.... The savings on COBRA alone could total in the billions." (Employee Benefit News)  

You've Got 42 Obamacare Questions. Here Are 42 Answers!
Transcript of live online chat with Washington Post's Sarah Kliff and Kaiser Health News' Phil Galewitz. Excerpt: "Why is there no discussion about improving health outcomes? ... What will happen when people agree to pay for health care but do not get the medical, oral, rehab, or mental health services needed to be well? ... I have needed to visit the doctor about five times in the past 10 years. With insurance premiums around $400/month or close to $5,000/year, I paid more than $50,000 in 10 years. That means each of those visits to the doctor cost $10,000. How is a 10-minute visit to the doctor to say, 'yes, you have a chest infection, bring this to the pharmacy' possibly worth that much money? (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Shutdown Effect on Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA Programs
"The HHS shutdown contingency plan for FY2012 stated that, 'Operations of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight would continue as funding was provided through the [ACA].' This includes insurance rate reviews, assessment of a portion of insurance premiums that are used on medical services, establishment of exchanges, operation of the pre-existing condition insurance program and the early retiree reinsurance program." (Mintz Levin)  


Seize the ACA: The Innovator's Guide to the Affordable Care Act
"[The purpose of this study is to analyze] the ACA through the lens of disruptive innovation and provide insight into the specific provisions that offer the greatest potential for positive change and disruption -- as well as to identify which provisions may dis-incentivize such change and disruption. Doing so allows us to better understand and leverage new and potential opportunities that increase accessibility, decrease costs, and improve overall quality of care." (Clayton Christensen Institute)  


IT Is One of Obamacare's Weakest Links
"[S]etting up this system sounded like an enormous job to me -- a five- to eight-year job, given government procurement rules, not a three-year rush special.... As time wore on, the administration has steadily stripped major components out of the exchanges and the data hub behind them as it became clear that they couldn't possibly make the Oct. 1 deadline when all of this was supposed to be ready.... As of this writing, what is going to happen when the exchanges are open next week is unclear. How did we get to this point?" (Bloomberg)  


Canadians Don't Understand the ACA Battle
"It's just 'common sense' in [one Canadian businessman's] view that government takes the lead in assuring basic health security for its citizens. He's amazed at the contortions of the debate in the United States, and wonders why big U.S. companies 'want to be in the business of providing health care anyway' ('that's a government function,' he says simply). [He] also marvels at the way the U.S. regime's dysfunction comes to dominate everyday conversation. He shakes his head recalling how much time and passion American friends devoted one evening to comparing notes on their various supplemental Medicare plans. Talk about your sparkling dinner conversation." (Matt Miller in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  


Did We Get It Right? A Behind the Scenes Look at California's Healthcare Strategy
"By petitioning CMS to receive a first-of-its-kind waiver, California got to 'set the agenda [and] design the program' in a way that best benefited the state ... By taking the lead on implementation, California 'got to draw from the top tier of talent' in the health policy community ... California's comparatively moderate pace of implementation allowed for more preparation and testing. That's evident in the readiness of Covered California's information technology systems[.]" (The Health Care Blog)  


Obamacare Premium Rates Released: The Game Begins
"[T]he HHS report provides encouraging information about the number of issuers and health plans in addition to the cost of premiums before and after the tax credit. Further questions, however, still remain regarding the effects of competition and affordability -- especially in states with only one issuer." (The Brookings Institution)  


Plano, Texas vs. Revere, Massachusetts: Sorting Through the Differing Causes and Durations of Uninsurance
"Plano's wealthy demographic profile suggests that the uninsured there may be more likely to experience the temporary gaps in coverage that attend life's transitions ... Covering the uninsured in Plano may also simply mean providing access to a low-cost health plan that insures against major medical expenses for a few months at a time. The ten percent uninsured in Revere, by comparison, lack coverage in a state with a strong public safety net, an individual mandate already in place, and insurance subsidies available up to 300 percent of the poverty line. Revere's uninsured, in other words, remain without coverage despite a set of reforms that closely resemble what the ACA will soon offer nationwide." (Health Affairs Blog)  


Administration Confirms Americans Will Not See a $2,500 Decrease in Premiums
"When compared to the average 2013 premiums in the individual markets of each state, it is clear the overwhelming number of Americans in the Exchanges will pay more for ObamaCare. These increased costs will hit younger populations especially hard. [A chart] shows the increase an average 27-year-old will see under ObamaCare [for each state]." (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)  


The Medicare Doc Fix Will Never Get Fixed Like This
"Earlier this month, the [CBO] scored the cost of a ... bill to permanently 'fix' the Medicare fee schedule for physicians. The cost to taxpayers? $175 billion over ten years.... ObamaCare's effect on health spending is that it will cost $1.8 trillion over ten years. So, this so-called permanent doc fix would cost almost one tenth the entire cost of ObamaCare. How can anyone possibly call that a 'fix?'" (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Notice 2013-65: Special Per Diem Rates for 2013-2014 (PDF)
"This annual notice provides the 2013-2014 special per diem rates for taxpayers to use in substantiating the amount of ordinary and necessary business expenses incurred while traveling away from home, specifically (1) the special transportation industry meal and incidental expenses (M&IE) rates, (2) the rate for the incidental expenses only deduction, and (3) the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method." (Internal Revenue Service)  

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Proposes CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules
"Issuers may wish to identify possible methodologies for calculating the pay ratio and prepare a preliminary estimate of the pay ratio. Going through this process will help inform compensation committees with respect to their executive compensation decisions, assist internal administrators in identifying processes that will be necessary to collect the information required to determine the pay ratio, and give issuers a general sense of their pay ratio. The burden and expense of updating systems and developing processes to collect information will be significant, especially for issuers that do not have centralized systems or who have personnel in many jurisdictions." (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati)  

Performance Awards: Strings Attached?
"Performance Awards are being issued in record numbers, with about 50% of S&P 500 companies awarding performance-linked equity compensation.... Company metrics are more controllable than total shareholder return .... Don't count your chickens before they hatch (or your performance shares before targets are met).... The responsibility to file SEC Forms 3, 4 and 5 rests with the Executive and not the Company.... Despite a few uncertainties, performance awards usually work out reasonably well for most executives." (SFG Wealth Planning Services, Inc.)  

U.S. Postal Service: Health and Pension Benefits Proposals Involve Trade-offs
"GAO has reported that USPS would likely realize large financial gains from its proposal to withdraw its employees and retirees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and establish its own health plan.... As Congress considers proposals for a USPS health care plan, it should weigh the impact on Medicare, which also faces fiscal pressure, and other issues, including establishing safeguards for assets of the USPS health plan and ensuring protections for plan participants are comparable to those in FEHBP.... This testimony discusses (1) funding USPS retiree health benefits; (2) USPS's proposal to withdraw its employees and retirees from FEHBP and establish its own health plan; and (3) a potential surplus in funding postal pensions under FERS. This testimony is based primarily on GAO's past work." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)  

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