It's hard to believe that 2012 is almost over. It has been a difficult year for many communities in our member pools' states. Natural disasters have ranged from the impact of Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac on the eastern seaboard and the Gulf coast to the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado. The most recent tragedy unfolded last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts are with the victims of all these disasters, and especially those families directly impacted by the tragic event in Newtown.
We look forward to beginning a new year of RISC activity in 2013. NLC-RISC communications will take a short hiatus until after the first of the year when we will resume weekly RISC eNews Blasts and the bi-monthly RISC Report newsletter. Additional efforts that we'll be undertaking shortly after the first of the year include compensation surveys for both pool administrators and pool staff, planning for the Trustees Conference in May (already underway!), and further evaluation and enhancement of our communication tools, including a members-only portal. NLC-RISC staff will also be meeting with the Board of Directors to continue discussions on how best to engage NLC-RISC members in helping set priorities for the organization going forward. Watch for more information on all of these efforts and many more coming in 2013.
Until then, we hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday season, and a very happy new year!
Claire Reiss and Erin Rian, NLC-RISC Staff
Natural Gas Explosions and First Responders
RISC Resource: Claire Reiss
Natural gas explosions have been in the news a lot lately. On December 11, a natural gas line explosion demolished four homes, damaged five others and shut down 1-77 in West Virginia. Another recent explosion, in Springfield Massachusetts on November 23, 2012, destroyed one building, seriously damaged 12 others, blew out windows in a three-block radius and injured 18 people. The Springfield explosion illustrates one reason why these events are of concern to pools and their members: the injured included nine firefighters, two police officers and four utility workers who were in the area in response to a report of leaking gas. According to one report, these workers only survived because they took cover behind a truck when the utility workers got indications a building was about to explode.
The explosions are only the most severe manifestation of an ongoing problem: significant pipeline incidents, three of which, according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, occur every four days in the U.S. These leaks do not often result in major explosions, but there is no sure way for public safety officers dispatched to a scene to know which will be deadly instead of routine. Just as public safety workers use universal precautions against bloodborne pathogens when approaching someone who is bleeding, they must also use standard safety precautions when approaching gas leak scenes. READ MORE
POOLS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
This section of the RISC Report provides highlights from recent NLC-RISC member publications. With the publishing pool's permission, these reprints will showcase the pools' expertise and services allowing RISC member pools to learn from, and build upon, each other's efforts. If RISC is not currently on your distribution list for these newsletters, please consider providing us with either a hard copy or electronic version of your newsletter.
RISC Resource: Claire Reiss
Health Insurance Options: Funding Employees' Individual Plans
If your city is considering funding its employees' individual health insurance policies, it's important to understand the legal implications. (Printed with permission from the League of Minnesota Cities and Hitesman & Wold, P.A.)
As we all prepare for new requirements under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), some cities are considering eliminating their group health plan and instead setting up a method to fund individual policies. There are two basic options by which an employer may fund the purchase of individual policies. However, there are many considerations to review with each option.
The League has worked with Hitesman & Wold, P.A., to outline considerations with both options for cities. Cities that are considering either of these options should work with a benefits attorney or a brokerage firm with substantial knowledge about all of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) requirements, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules associated with each option, and other applicable restrictions. READ MORE
INFORMATION & RESOURCES
HHS Issues Proposed Rules Governing 2014 Employer Benefit, Payment Parameters
(Neil Bomberg, Program Director, NLC Center for Federal Relations)
RISC Resource: Erin Rian
On December 7th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published proposed rules governing a wide range of issues surrounding benefit and payment parameters for employers, including "cost sharing reductions" for low- and moderate-income employees that obtain health insurance through Exchanges. The proposed rules governing Exchanges for small employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) known as SHOPs may be of particular interest to pools and their members. The rules provide guidance on how to determine whether an employer can be considered a small employer; safe harbor provisions for determining how much employers must contribute; the minimum participation rates required under federal law; and the standards that health plans must meet to participate in an Exchange or SHOP.
The deadline to submit comments is December 31, 2012. Given the complex rules and the impact on health pools and municipal employers, NLC's Federal Relations Department is requesting that HHS extend the comment period to no less than 60 days. Please contact Erin Rian or Neil Bomberg (NLC Center for Federal Relations) with comments or concerns.
National League of Cities Appoints Clarence Anthony as New Executive Director
On November 29th, The National League of Cities announced that Clarence E. Anthony was named as the association's new Executive Director. Anthony will assume the Executive Director role on January 2, 2013. READ MORE
- NLC-RISC Marketing Communications Strategy Workshop ~ May 15-16, 2013 in Denver, Colorado
- NLC-RISC Trustees Conference ~ May 16-18, 2013 in Denver, Colorado
- Southern Municipal Underwriting Group Meeting ~ April 8-9, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky
- Southeast Loss Control Meeting ~ April 16-19, 2013 in Annapolis, Maryland
- Midwest Loss Control Meeting ~ May 2-3, 2013 in St. Paul, Minnesota
- NLC-RISC Staff Conference ~ October 21-23, 2013 in Portland, Oregon
Current and past issues of the RISC Report can also be found on the NLC-RISC website - see the Publications tab. Please contact Erin Rian with questions.
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