This wasn’t exactly the cheeriest of weeks for the economy. The economic outlook darkened considerably this week, causing stock prices to tumble and the hiring pace to lose momentum. Weak data suggests that Asia, “the world’s growth engine,” is stalled. U.S. investor optimism is down 21 percent from February levels. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the Labor Department reported today that hiring slowed sharply in May.
Take deep breath, two aspirin. In other news . . .
This week in health care reform
The court battles: A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in Cincinnati on Wednesday regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The panel gave no clear indication of how it will rule, though Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee, stated, “It is just not proper to make people buy things,” alluding to the law’s individual mandate. Aside from the controversial individual mandate, arguments centered on the legal standing of the lawsuit, given that one of the plaintiffs, Jann DeMars, has obtained insurance through her employer since filing the suit. An appeals court in Richmond heard two separate challenges to PPACA last month. Next week, a federal appeals court in Atlanta will hear arguments filed by Florida and 25 other states challenging the law.
Recommended: If you’d like to keep track of the 26 federal lawsuits challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, see Kaiser Health News’ health law scoreboard.
The political issue: Health care reform will be a hot-button issue during the primary season as we saw this week when Mitt Romney made his candidacy for the 2012 presidential election official. Declaring that Obama “has failed America,” Romney will likely be spending much of the primary season campaigning against his past, pro-universal-health-care-loving-self, and struggling to draw sometimes odd distinctions between Romneycare and Obamacare.
This week in retirement
Something else to keep you up at night: When you’re not worrying about health care reform, don’t forget about 401(k) reform.
Clash of the pension experts: Budget hawks seeking new sources of tax revenue and economists clashed this week over the merits of cutting 401(k) tax breaks. ASPPA argued that the proposals to scale back retirement savings incentives were based upon “faulty math.”
Fee disclosure rules postponed: EBSA announced on Tuesday an extension of the compliance dates for its retirement plan disclosure rules. The original compliance date for rule 408(b)(2) was July 16, but that has been pushed back to Jan. 1, 2012.
10x is the target: The Lincoln Financial Life Stages Study released this week found that the most prepared retirees had hit a retirement savings benchmark of 10 times their income at a typical retirement age.
This week in HR
Going mobile can be risky: It’s well known that requiring workers to go mobile can increase employers’ workers’ comp exposure, mainly from accidents that occur while workers are using their mobile devices. That exposure may increase given this week’s announcement by the World Health Organization that cell phone use could lead to cancer.
Sickly road warriors: Findings from a newly published study suggest that business travel can take a hefty toll employees’ health.
Enrollment season approaches: Industry insiders offer BenefitsPro readers tips on how to have a smooth enrollment season.
- Employers look to employees to lower health care costs
- High-deductible plans gaining popularity
- Patients could gain right to find out who’s accessed their health records
- Nationwide CFO takes on executive comp regs
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses skyrocketing
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