Top health care reform stories
Wave goodbye to waivers: The Obama administration succumbed to political pressure this week, announcing that it will end the health care waiver program later this year. The announcement came despite a GAO report released last week that the administration hoped would allay suspicion that waivers were being awarded as political favors.
The McKinsey dustup continues: The controversy continued this week over the McKinsey study that found up to 30 percent of employers will drop their coverage in 2014. Under pressure by a group of Democrats led by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), McKinsey finally released the study’s methodology. “The survey was rigorous after all,” says Forbes.com blogger Avik Roy. Not so fast, says The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, who points out that the firm conceded the study was not predictive. (To follow BenefitsPro’s ongoing coverage of the McKinsey controversy, see our McKinsey watch page.)
When analysts attack: In the wake of the flurry of controversy sparked by the McKinsey study, what do we need to make sense of it all? Apparently, more studies. Lockton released findings this week that put the percentage of employers likely to drop health coverage closer to 20 percent. A flurry of other studies released this week disagreed. The Urban Institute, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Benfield Group and Avalere Health adopted a divide and “let’s bury McKinsey” approach, with each group releasing study results suggesting that health reform is more likely to stabilize the number of Americans who have employer-provided health coverage, which has declined 8 percent in the last decade.
Oops! A loophole discovered in the health care law after the legislation was signed into law last year would give nearly free health insurance coverage to several million middle-class people.
Setback in patient rights: On Wednesday the Obama administration fine-tuned its guidelines for how consumers can appeal denials of coverage by an insurer for review by an independent third-party. As the Washington Post points out, the ruling did not go far enough for consumer advocates who say that, in many ways, the guidelines narrow the original rules issued in 2010.
Top retirement stories
Retirement crisis: Retirement confidence continues to wane, particularly among boomers and Gen-Xers (who apparently are getting fatter). Women are more confident than men, despite findings that suggest they are “way behind” men in financial knowledge. The good news – and we had to look hard to find some – is that more portfolios are beating the recession, according to the Edward Jones Retirement Survey.
The war on pensions rages on: The Wall Street Journal suggests that Atlanta may be the next front in the war on public pensions. New Jersey moved to diminish benefits for state workers and retirees. Even the U.S. Postal Service is suspending retirement contributions. The New York Times offered an instructive infographic outlining the $176 billion gap in public pensions.
32,000 advisors go stateside: The SEC approved a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that shifted advisors who manage $25 million to $100 million in assets to state regulation.
Top HR/benefits stories
Quick hits from around the web
Agents hate PPACA, support reform (National Underwriter)
AARP’s big reversal (AdvisorOne)
Mobile apps try to turn spenders into savers (USA Today)
On the hunt for a better 401(k) plan (New York Times)
Employees more satisfied when offered voluntary benefits (BenefitsPro)
The top 10 worst states for retirees (AdvisorOne)
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Most popular BenefitsPro story this week: Obama admin to end health care waivers
This week’s BenefitsPro blogs:
McKinsey who?, By Denis Storey
Benefits dropping like flies, by Mark Roberts
401(k) assets 2010 sneak peak, by Dan Cole
Why aren’t we talking about retirement, by Jenny Ivy
What if the DOL was as aggressive as the FDA, by Chris Carosa