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November 9, 2010

Plan Communication Important

In a recent case (Madhuri Kasireddy, Plaintiff, v. Bank of America Corporation Corporate Benefits Committee,No. 09C7940, US District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division, 10/13/10),the importance of diligence in plan communication is underscored. 

November 9, 2010

Participant Level Fee Disclosure Regulations Finalized

The DOL’s Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) has been engaged in a 3-prong approach to ensure adequate fee disclosures payable by retirement plans. The first prong came in the form of Schedule C reporting requirement; these requirements took effect for the 2009 plan year. The second prong relates to fee disclosure to plan sponsors. On July 16, 2010, the DOL issued interim final regulations addressing fee disclosure matters by service providers (see Retirement Plan Fee Disclosure Continuum, Benefit Beat, 8/5/10). The third prong relates to participant level fee disclosures.  On October 20, 2010, EBSA issued final regulations, a Fact Sheet, and a Model Chart, relating to participant level fee disclosure. 

November 9, 2010

2011 limits applicable to MSAs, LTC premium, adoption assistance programs and Social Security

In Revenue Procedure 2010-40, the IRS released 2011 limits relating to MSAs, LTC premium, adoption assistance programs, and Social Security wage base.  Following are amounts applicable to tax years beginning in 2011.  Please note that the 2011 annual limits applicable to health savings accounts were released earlier this year (see No Change in Cost of Living Adjustments for HSAs,Benefit Beat, 6/7/10).

October 15, 2010

Highlights of the Small Business Jobs Act

On September 27, 2010, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (“SBJA”, P.L. 111-240).  This law includes a couple of provisions, specific to employee benefit plans.  Following are highlights of this new law:

October 15, 2010

Notice Reminders: Medicare Part D

  • Annual Medicare Part D Notices. The annual notices of creditable and noncreditable coverage to Medicare-eligibles must be provided no later than November 14, 2010.  Notices to be used on or after January 1, 2009, as well as Creditable Coverage Guidance, are all available on-line from the CMS website, or can be viewed from these links:
    • Model Individual Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice (English or Spanish)
    • Model Individual Non-Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice (English or Spanish)
  • Disclosure Notice to CMS.  An annual report, Creditable Coverage Disclosure Form, must also be submitted to CMS describing whether the prescription drug coverage is creditable or not creditable.  This filing must be accomplished electronically, and is due within 60 days of the commencement of the plan year.  For details about this notice, see CMS guidance and/or Form Instructions and Screen Shots.

 

October 12, 2010

HRB 23 - Agencies Issue PPACA Clarifications

October 12, 2010 --  In an on-going effort to assist employers and plans in complying with the PPACA, the governing Agencies (Departments of HHS, Labor and Treasury) responsible for implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have issued three sets of frequently asked questions (FAQs).  These FAQs are just that; they are not regulations, but they do give an indication as to how the agencies are interpreting the law. With regard to several PPACA notice requirements, EBSA has released the relevant notices in Spanish.  In addition, the IRS recently released two pronouncements: one relating to the salary-based discrimination rules applicable to insured group health plans, and the other relating to a delay in the mandatory Form W-2 reporting of employer-provided health care costs.

October 12, 2010

HRB 22 - Limited PPACA Exemption for Self-Funded, Non-Federal Governmental Plans

October 12, 2010 --  Since the enactment of HIPAA in 1996, if certain conditions are met, a self-funded or partially self-funded health plan sponsored by a State and local government entity, such as a city, township, or school district, can elect to exempt itself from being considered a group health plan for purposes of the HIPAA portability, preexisting condition exclusion limitation, and related provisions of the law.  This exemption is only available as it relates to the self-funded portion of the plan. 

October 5, 2010

HRB 21 - Early Retiree Reimbursement Program Updates

October 5, 2010 --  The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP), established as part of the PPACA, is a program designed to encourage employers to establish or maintain retiree health coverage for their retirees, aged 55 to Medicare entitlement.  The ERRP will pay the equivalent of up to 80% of an early retiree’s claim between $15,000 and $90,000.  To be eligible for the program, an application must be filed with HHS; the application process opened on June 29, 2010. 

September 21, 2010

HRB 20 - Mini-Med Plan Relief from Annual Limit Restriction Offered

September 21, 2010 --  One of the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that becomes applicable to all health plans, grandfathered or not, on the 1st day of the 1st plan year beginning on or after September 23, 2010, is a requirement to remove all so-called “lifetime limitations” and “annual limitations” on essential benefits.  There is a phase-in period placed on annual limits.  From now until January 1, 2014, the following schedule applies to annual limits on the dollar value of essential benefits:

September 9, 2010

IRS COBRA Subsidy FAQs Updated

Recently, the IRS has updated its FAQs relating to the COBRA subsidy (note Q&As AE-36 and AE 38-50).  The COBRA subsidy, enacted originally on February 17, 2009, and extended several times, expired on May 31, 2010.

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