December 7, 2010
For additional information:
Jason Hammersla
202-289-6700 (office)
202-422-4652 (cell)

Council: Employers support measured approach to regulating health and welfare plan fee disclosure

WASHINGTON, DC — Allison Klausner, Assistant General Counsel – Benefits for Honeywell International Inc., testifying on behalf of the American Benefits Council, expressed strong support for transparency in arrangements for plan services, but noted that "the Council is mindful that additional burdens and costs imposed on plan service providers may result in increased plan expenses and reduced participant benefits."

Klausner testified at today's U.S. Department of Labor hearing in which the Department requested input on disclosure of fee, conflict of interest and other information by service providers to group health, disability, severance and other employee welfare benefit plans under ERISA Section 408(b)(2).

Earlier this year, DOL issued interim final regulations that would require service providers to give retirement plan fiduciaries written disclosures of certain fee and services information necessary to assist plan fiduciaries in assessing the reasonableness of compensation or fees paid by the plan, as well as the potential for conflicts of interest. These regulations relate only to fee disclosure for retirement plans, as the health and welfare section was reserved in response to public comments urging that welfare-plan related disclosures be considered separately.

Klausner testified that the Council believes the interim final regulations largely strike the right balance between these competing considerations in the retirement plan context. "We also encourage the Department to strike an appropriate balance in the context of welfare plans," she said. Klausner's testimony focused on the distinction between self-insured and fully-insured arrangements, as well as the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Klausner's testimony is available on the Council Web site. For more information, or to arrange an interview with Council staff on health and welfare plan policy, please contact Jason Hammersla, Council director, communications, at 202-289-6700.

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The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.