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News

Coronavirus: Be Informed and Call Your Provider if Symptoms Develop

Talk of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is everywhere. Here’s what you should know and do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

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SECURE Act Becomes Law

On December 20, 2019, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (“SECURE Act”) became law when President Trump signed Congress’ year-end spending package. Some have called the SECURE Act the most comprehensive piece of retirement legislation in over ten years. Certainly, this may be true for private sector retirement plans and for small, unrelated employers, which now are allowed to participate in a new type of multiple employer plan, referred to as a “Pooled Employer Plan.” However, as we discussed in our e-alert dated May 24, 2019, there also are some significant provisions about which governmental plan sponsors and administrators must be aware. The key provisions, which may affect governmental plans, are as follows:

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Economic Outlook Symposium: Summary of 2019 results and 2020 forecasts

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held its 33rd annual Economic Outlook Symposium on
December 13, 2019. More than 140 economists and analysts from business, academia, and
government attended the conference. This Chicago Fed Letter reviews participants’ forecasts for 2019
from the previous EOS, and then analyzes their forecasts for 2020 (see figure 1) and summarizes
the presentations from the most recent EOS.

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Retiree Living Standards, Ranked by State

How well you will live in retirement will depend on two things: your income and the local cost of living.

A new study that ranks each state based on how many of its retirees can meet a basic standard of living comes up with an interesting combination of places that are financially friendly – or not – to people over 65.

For example, who would expect Mississippi to be in the same company with California?

The cost of living in Mississippi is much lower than in California – and most states. But 31 percent of Mississippi’s retired single people and 24 percent of its retired couples fall into what the study calls the “gap” between being poor and having barely enough income to cover their basic expenses, according to a 50-state analysis by the University of Massachusetts’ Gerontology Institute in Boston.

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What’s next in legal drama over the Affordable Care Act?

The federal appeals court ruling striking down the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that people have health insurance left hanging key questions about what happens to other provisions of the law, like coverage for preexisting conditions.

President Barack Obama’s signature health care law remains in legal limbo. But at least for now most of its provisions remain in effect.

The decision Wednesday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sent the case back to a federal district court judge who had declared the entire law invalid because there was no longer a tax on people without health care. It will now be up to Judge Reed O’Connor to parse out what of the ACA should survive.

But don’t expect that to be the final word on a piece of legislation that provides coverage to about 20 million people and affects coverage for millions more:

WHAT’S NEXT?

It’s a bit uncertain.

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Public Sector Healthcare Roundtable – Weekly e-News

The Public Sector HealthCare Roundtable is a non-partisan, member-directed coalition that exists to give public sector health care purchasers and State and local health plan administrators a voice in the design, development, and implementation of national health care policy. The Roundtable does this by providing in-depth policy analysis and a forum to collectively engage with key decision-makers in Washington, D.C. Benefits provided by Roundtable members have a far-reaching positive impact on the State economies and help to fuel a robust provider network and health care delivery system that benefits all citizens.

Weekly e-News December 17, 2019

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Turning Gray and Into the Red: The True Cost of Growing Old in America

The U.S. population is aging at such a rate that within a few years, older Americans will outnumber the country’s children for the first time, according to census projections. But rising rents, health care and other living costs mean that for many entering their retirement years, balancing the household budget can be a struggle.

To get a better understanding of how much of a struggle, a team at the University of Massachusetts Boston established a benchmark against which to measure the financial security of Americans aged 65 and over. Jan Mutchler is Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging in the Gerontology Institute at UMass.

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IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2020

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced the tax year 2020 annual inflation adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2019-44 (PDF) provides details about these annual adjustments.

The tax law change covered in the revenue procedure was added by the Taxpayer First Act of 2019, which increased the failure to file penalty to $330 for returns due after the end of 2019. The new penalty will be adjusted for inflation beginning with tax year 2021.

The tax year 2020 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2021.

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Spillovers from State and Local Pensions to Social Security: Do Benefits for Uncovered Workers Meet Federal Standards?

Federal law allows certain state and local government employees to be excluded from Social Security coverage if they are covered by an employer pension of sufficient generosity.  Public sector retirement systems have grown less generous in recent years, and a couple of plans could exhaust their assets in the next decade, putting benefits at risk.  If pension sponsors are inattentive to federal generosity requirements when cutting benefits, current and future initiatives to curb costs may conflict with their obligations to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).  This project combines data from a variety of sources to assess whether state and local governments are currently satisfying the federal standards and whether the standards continue to provide benefits of equal generosity to Social Security.

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Public Workers Not Covered by Social Security Face Greater Burdens in Financing Retirement

State and local pensions have experienced many changes since the Great Recession.

Worried about high costs and a deteriorating fiscal situation, lawmakers in dozens of states have enacted a series of reforms to reduce promised benefits for current and future workers. Many of these benefit reductions have fallen on workers who are not covered by Social Security.

These workers do not enjoy the same portability of retirement benefits as workers who are covered by Social Security when they change jobs, making them more dependent on the retirement benefits provided by their employer.

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