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October 16, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Director of Marketing and Communications
July Business Services
in TX

Retirement Specialist
Nationwide Insurance
in NM

Senior Client Service Specialist
Iron Financial
in IL

401(k) Administrator
AFC Pensions, Inc.
in MA

Defined Contribution Administrator
FACTS, inc.
in IN

Senior Defined Contribution (DC) Analyst
Retirement Horizons Inc.
in TX

Plan Administrator
BlueStar Retirement Services
in FL

Retirement Plan Services Officer
First Financial Bank
in IN

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Webcasts and Conferences

Ethics Case Studies One
October 22, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Rx Benefits in Private Exchanges: Strategies to Enhance Consumer Choice and Health Plan Market Share
November 5, 2013 WEBCAST
(Atlantic Information Services, Inc)

ERISA Workshop 2013 - Des Moines
November 13, 2013 in IA
(SunGard Relius)

Claims and Appeals for Self-Insured Health Plans: Understanding Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements
November 14, 2013 WEBCAST
(Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

2014 Employers' Summit on Health Care Costs and Solutions: Embracing the Changing Landscape
January 29, 2014 in DC
(National Business Group on Health)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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

How to Prepare for the Affordable Care Act
"Employers should consider doing the following now: Recognize that many of the ACA's mandates become effective on January 1, 2014.... Identify workers who are misclassified as independent contractors.... Investigate the application of the controlled and affiliated service group rules... Examine temporary and leased employee agreements.... Avoid 'messing' with your insurance contract renewal dates.... Take the time to model the impact of the ACA's mandates and penalties." (Jackson Lewis LLP)  


[Advert.]

New HIPAA Rules Require Compliance by September 23, 2013

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP)

New HIPAA rules issued earlier this year require compliance by group health plans and business associated by September 23. The International Foundation's HIPAA Privacy e-learning course provides the training you need to ensure compliance. Enroll Now!



[Guidance Overview]

What Is the ACA's 'Reinsurance Tax'?
"One provision of the Senate's emerging deal to reopen the federal government and extend the federal debt ceiling includes a one-year delay of a tax to help provide relief to insurers which cover large numbers of high-cost medical cases. Here are some frequently asked questions about the health law's temporary 'reinsurance tax' and how it would work." (Kaiser Health News)  

[Guidance Overview]

New California Law Excludes Certain Health Care Reimbursements from Employees' State Taxable Income
"California has adopted a new law excluding from gross income, for state personal income tax purposes, any amount received by an employee from an employer to compensate for additional federal income taxes incurred by the employee from employer-provided health benefits because of the federal government's failure to recognize same-sex spouses or domestic partners as the employee's spouse for federal income tax purposes. This exclusion also includes any 'grossed-up' amounts the employer provided to offset any taxes incurred by the employee on such reimbursement." (Jackson Lewis LLP)  

Delaware Health Officials Celebrate First Health Exchange Enrollee
"Department of Health and Social Service officials have declared 59-year-old Janice Baker of Selbyville the first confirmed resident to enroll in the marketplace. Baker said Tuesday that she started looking on Oct. 1 and, like many people, made several frustrated attempts to signup online and spent hours on the phone. But Baker says she had success once she cleared the browsing history, cookies and other temporary data on her computer." [Editor's note: Janice Baker is no relation -- that we know of -- to the BenefitsLink staff.] (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Employers Should Be Aware of the Risks of Unexpected FMLA Liability
"To prove FMLA retaliation, a plaintiff must show that her employer intentionally discriminated against her for exercising an FMLA right. Recognizing that the FMLA did not cover her absence, Dawkins did not contend that she exercised an FMLA right. Rather, she argued her FMLA retaliation claim was meritorious, despite being outside the statute's protection, because the employer was equitably estopped from denying her eligibility for FMLA leave based on her managers' 'Approved' e-mail." [Dawkins v. Fulton County Gov't, (11th Cir. Sept. 30, 2013)] (Ford & Harrison LLP)  

Five Things That Health Reform's Medical Device Tax Won't Do
"It won't apply to wheelchairs or any other medical device that the public generally buys at retail for individual use ... It won't have much of an impact on consumers.... It won't drive jobs overseas.... It won't single out device manufacturers for unfair treatment.... It won't impose significant burdens on manufacturers." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)  

The Coverage Gap: Uninsured Poor Adults in States That Do Not Expand Medicaid
"In states that do not expand Medicaid, over five million poor uninsured adults have incomes above Medicaid eligibility levels but below poverty and may fall into a 'coverage gap' of earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Marketplace premium tax credits. Most of these people have very limited coverage options and are likely to remain uninsured. This brief describes the coverage gap and presents state estimates of the population that falls into this situation." (Kaiser Family Foundation)  

The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath
"With its high prescription prices, the United States spends far more per capita on medicines than other developed countries. Drugs account for 10 percent of the country's $2.7 trillion annual health bill, even though the average American takes fewer prescription medicines than people in France or Canada.... Americans also use more generic medications than patients in any other developed country.... But many generics are still expensive, even if insurers are paying the bulk of the bill." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Holy Smokes! Employer Calls Employee's Minister to Confirm Her FMLA Abuse, Leading to Her Termination
"The dismissal was set up by the employer's great investigatory work which, in turn, is a lesson for the rest of us: ... When Ma Bell noticed the pattern of [the employee's] suspicious leave activity, it didn't react rashly. Rather, it took the next several months to study Linette's leave requests and patterns." [Williams-Grant v. Wisconsin Bell, No. 11-C-1051 (E.D. Wisc. Sept. 30, 2013)] (FMLA Insights)  

Florida Doctors Prescribe More Drugs Than Colorado Doctors
"The average [Medicare] beneficiary in Miami, Florida filled about 63 prescriptions in 2010, while the average beneficiary in Grand Junction, Colorado filled just 39 prescriptions ... Accounting for age, gender and co-morbid conditions, researchers say that only about 31 percent of the variation in drug prescriptions among Medicare Part D enrollees is explained by how sick they are." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Southern Baptist Convention Challenges ACA Contraceptive Mandate
"Three nonprofit religious organizations, including a division of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention, are suing the federal government over a controversial contraceptives regulation. The organizations ... announced the class-action lawsuit against the federal requirement that employers cover the cost of contraceptives, including drugs that can cause abortions. The groups argue the requirement infringes on religious liberty.... The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Oklahoma ... is the 74th against the government over its mandate[.]" (The Tennessean)  

[Opinion]

Analysis: Obamacare Glitches Scare Off Many Web Site Users
"The number of visitors to the federal government's HealthCare.gov Web site plummeted 88 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13 ... while less than half of 1 percent of the site's visitors successfully enrolled for health insurance the first week.... Based on a sample of two million users -- or 1 percent of all online users in the U.S.... it suggests that the rush of traffic administration officials cited as the cause of the site's problems trailed off within a matter of days." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

[Opinion]

'Obamacare Is a Bit Like the Astronaut on Top of the Rocket'
Interview with Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates. Excerpt: "There's an astronaut joke that an astronaut is a guy sitting on top of a rocket assembled by the lowest bidders.... [S]ome of these were no-bid contracts ... [The] Obama administration never brought in heavyweight IT people to oversee this." (Ezra Klein in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

[Opinion]

Is Wellness Being Done 'To' Employees or 'For' Them? (PDF)
"Tens of millions of employees are being subjected to interventions, once considered to be exclusively in the realm of doctors, by their own human resource departments, benefits consultants and vendor organizations apparently lacking basic clinical and outcomes measurement skills, to the detriment of company finances and sometimes even the health of the very workers these programs are designed to assist." (Al Lewis, Vik Khanna and Tom Emerick in Bloomberg BNA's Health Care Policy Report)  

[Opinion]

Physician-Hospital-Insurer Entities Forming Narrow Networks
"We've watched as insurers have consolidated. Although they tout that they are providing higher quality at lower costs through managed care, in fact they have used their oligopolistic leverage to limit patient access to their selected network providers.... In response, we are witnessing an explosion in consolidation of health care providers -- hospitals and physician groups -- often into single entities." (Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP])  

[Opinion]

The Huge Healthcare Subsidy Everyone Is Ignoring
"What we are witnessing today are individuals who already receive government health-care handouts attempting to prevent others from obtaining similar (but smaller in aggregate amount) health-care subsidies, as well. And as a group, today's recipients of government health-care subsidies are better off to begin with than are those they wish to exclude. Today's direct government subsidies for health care are easy for the political right to ignore because those handouts are not delivered through messy health exchanges or government checks, but rather through the income tax." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

[Opinion]

The Affordable Care Act: A User's Guide to Implementation (PDF)
"[Eight questions] will determine the long-term versus the short-term success or failure of the law. They [include]: [1] Is there a reduction in the total number of uninsured? [2] Is there an increase or stabilization in the cost of premiums on the exchanges and in the private market? [3] Are there an adequate number of plans in the exchange and does the number increase or decrease over time? ... [4] Does the number of people who pay the penalty for not having insurance increase or decrease over time? [5] Is there a decline in employer coverage?" (The Brookings Institution)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Senate Cuts Deal to Raise U.S. Debt Ceiling, Reopen Government
"The U.S. Senate announced a last-minute deal on Wednesday to avert a historic lapse in the government's borrowing ability and a potentially damaging debt default, and to reopen the government after a two-week shutdown. But even if the Senate and House of Representatives manage to overcome procedural hurdles to seal the deal before Thursday -- when the Treasury says it will exhaust its borrowing authority -- it will only be a temporary solution that sets up the prospect of another showdown early next year." (Reuters)  

2013 Corporate Governance and Incentive Design Survey (PDF)
"Forty percent (40%) of companies disclose a mandatory retirement age in which a director may no longer stand for re-election; 90% of these retirement ages for directors are between ages 72 and 75.... For annual incentive plans, earnings metrics ... remain the most widely used across the Meridian 250. Long-term performance-based vehicles ... are now used at over 90% of the Meridian 250.... [P]erformance-based vehicles now make up 53% of the annual LTI opportunity granted to senior-most executives." (Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC)  

ISS 2014 Policy Survey Results
"In contrast to last year's survey, which was heavily focused on compensation-related questions, this year's survey had no questions directly related to say on pay. Instead the focus this year was on the criteria that ISS might use to evaluate directors and their responsiveness to nonbinding proposals, and on how ISS might evaluate equity compensation plans in the future." (Towers Watson)  

Transcript of Oral Argument Before the U.S. Supreme Court in ERISA Statute of Limitations Case (Heimeshoff v. Hartford) (PDF)
"This case involves an accrual provision in an ERISA plan that starts the clock running on a Federal denial of benefits claim near the beginning of ERISA's mandatory internal claims process before the Federal claim ever exists or could be filed in court. This provision directly conflicts with ERISA's two-tiered remedial structure, which is designed to maximize the number of claims that are resolved internally without lawyers in courts." [From the oral argument of Matthew W.H. Wessler, on behalf of the petitioner.] (Supreme Court of the United States)  

[Opinion]

Much ERISA Fun at the Supreme Court: Heimeshoff and Benefit State of Limitations Accrual Issues
"The ERISA written plan requirement rule suggests that the plan administrator follow the terms of the plan as written, but to do so, at least conceivably in some cases, the administrator could drag their feet and wait for the statute of limitations to run before finally deciding the internal appeal and thereby prevent the employee to ever file a benefits denial claim in court." (Workplace Prof Blog)  

[Opinion]

Text of NASDAQ Request for SEC Rulemaking to Revise the Commission's Guidance to Proxy Advisory Firms (PDF)
"Unless we enable companies and all market participants to have full information about the practices and activities of the Firms, the Firms will continue to exert outsized influence from the shadows in which they operate and profit. Indeed, there is evidence that the Firms not only increase the costs of being a public company, but also create disincentives for companies to become public in the first place. The changes we advocate seek to address these concerns and promote transparency and fairness in this important area, to the benefit of companies, shareholders and the public interest." (NASDAQ OMX)  

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