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New Law Uses Benefits to Pay for Buses and Veterans Health Care

When you were last pondering what creative name Congress will use on its next benefits-related bill (and, really, who does not do that in moments of abject despair, after a few glasses of wine, while bowling from time to time), surely the “Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015” was near the top of your mind, wasn’t it?  No?  Really?

Well, SURPRISE! Because that’s the name of your latest benefits bill.  In truth, it does have some provisions about transportation and the VA, but there are also benefits changes buried in various corners of the new law:

  • Beginning next year, the automatic extension for the Form 5500 has been, well, extended from 2 ½ months to 3 ½ months from the initial deadline.   This will allow plan administrators of calendar year plans more time to prepare for Halloween, but may cut in on their
  • 40 Years of ERISA

    September 2, 2014

    Categories

    40 Years of ERISA

    September 2, 2014

    Authored by: Chris Rylands

    ERISA has been modified by many pieces of legislation since it was signed into law on this day in 1974. In honor of ERISA’s “Big 4-0” we invite you to (1) find all of the abbreviations below for different acts that have amended ERISA and (2) come up with the full name for each abbreviated act. We will share the solution along with each act’s full name on Thursday. Good luck! *Note: letters are shared and acronyms go every direction. 

    Are You Smarter Than a Plan Administrator?

    Are You Smarter Than a Plan Administrator?

    February 26, 2013

    Authored by: Denise Erwin and Jennifer Stokes

    We want our employees to make healthy choices so that they will have long and healthy lives (and also to decrease the cost of health benefits).  We also want our employees to participate in the 401(k) plan so that they can build a nest egg for retirement and enjoy those long, healthy lives (and maybe also so that we don’t have to refund deferrals to our  HCEs).  Whatever our motivations, it seems that the latest trend in encouraging desired behavior in the employee benefits arena is gamification.  Think “Farmville” except the “crops” that your employees will be growing are their dreams that they want to harvest in retirement (travel, a vacation home, or just being able to continue to pay the bills).  Imagine those crops wilting unless they are “watered” and “fed” by employees who earn “plant food” and “water” by correctly answering retirement-related questions.  Maybe

    The NHL Goes Back to the Past (Pension-wise)

    After a long lockout, the NHL will begin its season this weekend thanks, in part, to a pension plan.  Among the sticking points for the players, as noted in this article, was the desire to return to a defined benefit pension plan.  The NHL was somewhat ahead of its time in 1986 when it switched to a DC-only style retirement plan.  However, the players in this recent round of bargaining pushed hard for a pension plan, and succeeded.  While the NHL has not released very many details about the pension plan, and some of the information we’ve found is conflicting, this report from CSN Washington suggests that players can be eligible for the maximum benefits permitted by law.

    While it is interesting to see an institution as prominent as the NHL buck a clear trend in the retirement space, it goes without saying that this is

    News & Notes – December 21, 2012

    News & Notes – December 21, 2012

    December 21, 2012

    Authored by: Chris Rylands

    If you’re reading this, it must mean the Mayans were wrong, so since the world is continuing, why not check out our list of recent News & Notes items?

    • A recent study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that 84% of employers plan to keep offering coverage in 2014.
    • But even if its offered, an Employee Benefits Research Institute study found some employees might not take it if it Congress decides to tax insurance as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations (if you can call them that).
    • The Commonwealth Fund has put together an interactive map, and additional information, about various States’ decisions on implementing the PPACA exchanges.
    •  Since we have so often talked about Hurricane Sandy relief in this column, we would be remiss if we did

    News & Notes – December 7, 2012

    News & Notes – December 7, 2012

    December 7, 2012

    Authored by: Chris Rylands

    Below is our most recent list of News & Notes from the week that was.  Let us know what you think.  Should we continue this feature?

    • Continuing with our unplanned New York theme, the New York Times recently reported how some non-traditional medical practitioners were lobbying to be included as “essential health benefits” under health care reform.  Is acupuncture essential?
    • Going completely to the other coast, CBS Los Angeles reported that LA County officials were scrambling to retain “paying patients” ahead of 2014.

    News & Notes – November 30, 2012

    News & Notes – November 30, 2012

    November 30, 2012

    Authored by: Chris Rylands

    Now that we’ve returned from Thanksgiving and have finished off the leftover pumpkin pie, we wanted to share a few more recent benefits-related(ish) stories and other links.

    • In case you didn’t see it, last week the DOL issued compliance guidance for employee benefit plans in wake of Hurricane Sandy.
    • This blog post lists four ways to internally market your benefits and compensation programs.
    • One way you might help participation in your wellness programs is develop an app, says this article.
    • Are you having trouble keeping track of all the lawsuits about the PPACA contraceptive mandate?  Fortunately for you, Politico has a good summary.
    • Some other countries provide

    News & Notes – November 16, 2012

    News & Notes – November 16, 2012

    November 16, 2012

    Authored by: Chris Rylands

    Just as we did last week, below, we share some recent benefits-related(ish) stories and other links.

    • Today would have been the deadline for states to submit their PPACA health insurance exchange blueprints, but HHS extended the deadline for the blueprints and then, a few days later, extended the deadline for states to tell HHS if they were starting an exchange.   As these reports from Kaiser show, some states are in and some states are out.  State Refor(u)m is keeping a list of state responses here.
    • The IRS released the latest edition of the Employee Plans News with some helpful information about plan administrative issues.

    News & Notes – November 9, 2012

    November 9, 2012

    Categories

    News & Notes – November 9, 2012

    November 9, 2012

    Authored by: Chris Rylands

    As a new feature here on benefitsbclp.com, we are going to regularly share some recent benefits-related(ish) stories and other links.

    • Get out your flotation devices because Politico is predicting a post-election flood of health care reform guidance.
    • Several states had PPACA measures on the ballot.  You can check out this list of the measures, and how they fared on election night.
    • Speaking of health care and elections, this Washington Post article says many employees are overwhelmed by open enrollment.
    • And just when you thought we were done
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