Closely-Held Companies Permitted to Decline to Provide Birth Control Coverage


In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot force a closely-held for-profit corporation to cover the cost of birth control for its employees, if doing so would conflict with a sincere religious belief of the owners. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers who provide health insurance to their employees must pay for a plan that covers contraception. Two family run businesses (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties) challenged that requirement, claiming that it infringed on the religious liberty of the corporations. A majority of the Supreme Court agreed with the two corporations.
The Court found that requiring corporations to provide contraception coverage against their will places a substantial burden on the practice of their religious beliefs. In addition, according to the Court, mandating coverage that conflicts with a corporation's religious belief is not the least restrictive way for the government to achieve the stated objective of guaranteeing access to birth control. The Court placed several limits on its ruling, however. First, the decision is limited to corporations run by families or other closely allied people. Further, this ruling only deals with the question of contraception. Similar claims of religious objections to other insurance requirements, such as blood transfusions and vaccinations, will not necessarily succeed. Finally, the Court cautioned against cloaking illegal discrimination as religious practice.
While lower courts are already beginning to halt enforcement of the contraception mandate against corporations with pending legal cases, it is not clear what process will be required for closely-held corporations to apply for a religious exemption from the ACA's contraception requirement.

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Hello, Grillers: Put Food Safety on the Menu
Melanie Polk, M.M.Sc., R.D., F.A.D.A.


Simple precautions can help protect your family and guests.
Nothing says summer like a backyard cookout. But to make your barbecue a success you need more than a secret sauce recipe and a sizzling grill. Knowing a few basics of safe outdoor cooking can help you enjoy a fun feast — and lower the risk of foodborne illness.


Well done, grill master!

Here are five food-safety tips to remember when you're set to barbecue:


1. Clean the slate. Before cooking, give your grill grates and utensils a thorough scrubbing with hot, soapy water.


2. Handle with care. Keep uncooked foods — particularly raw meats and their juices — separate from cooked foods at all times. Use different cutting boards, platters and utensils. And, don't forget to wash your hands before and after touching raw foods.


3. Ban the burn. Charred meat can contain chemicals that may increase cancer risk. There are ways to reduce this unhealthy scorching:

Before: Marinate animal proteins — such as beef, poultry and fish. This can help prevent cancer-causing substances from forming. (See "Marinade: Double up!") Trim any fat. This will help reduce flare-ups from dripping grease.
During: Grill over indirect heat — out of any flames. Flip foods often.
After: If foods do get charred, cut off the burned parts before serving.


4. Check the temp. Keep raw meats in the fridge until they can go straight on the grill. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. It's the only way to know if you have cooked meats long enough to kill bacteria that make people sick.


To be safe, cook foods to at least the following temperature:



145* F

Then allow the meats to rest (to sit without carving or consuming) for 3 minutes. 



160* F



165* F

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Department of Agriculture



After meats are cooked, keep them warm by moving them to the edges of the grill — away from the coals and flames. Or, put them in an oven set at 200° F until it's time to eat.


5. Chill after you grill. Refrigerate any leftovers right away. If perishable items have been sitting out too long, toss them. That's one hour on days when the temperature hits 90° F or above — or two hours max on cooler days.


More cool tips

If you're serving cold salads and condiments place the containers in larger bowls of ice. This will help them stay chilled.

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Tips for Weathering Sun and Heat


Heat waves kill more people in U.S. than any other natural disaster, EPA warns

You may love the summer heat that makes it easy to swim, picnic and just laze around outside, but don't overdo it: Overexposure to the sun and heat can be dangerous, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns. On average, heat waves kill more people each year in the United States than any other natural disaster. And one American dies every hour from skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the EPA.


To help combat the double-whammy of heat waves and the sun, the EPA suggests planting trees, shrubs and vines near buildings to provide cooling shade and protection from ultraviolet rays.


The agency also offers the following summer safety tips:

  • Stay hydrated and wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing to protect your skin from harmful UV radiation. Also, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher about 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply every two hours. Check the sun's UV index before you go outside.
  • If you're outside during the sun's peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., try to stay in shade.
  • Remind others, particularly the elderly, to be safe in the sun and heat. Monitor them for signs of heat illness, which can include hot and dry skin, confusion, hallucinations and aggression.
  • Check the air quality. High ozone levels on hot summer days can make the air unhealthy to breathe.

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Staying Hydrated During Summer Exercise


Everyone should drink fluids during intense exercise. Thirst is often a poor indicator of dehydration in people who exercise.

Did you know? During a tough workout in a hot environment the body can lose two liters of fluid per hour through sweat.


Anyone who exercises intensely should take the following precautions:

  • Drink 6 - 8 ounces of fluid about 15 minutes before a workout, and then pause regularly during exercise to drink more.
  • Water is the best choice for replenishing body fluids. Glucose-sodium-potassium solutions, the so-called 'sports drinks,' which promise instant energy, appear to be no better than water at improving endurance during prolonged intense running.
  • Caffeinated beverages like coffee and soft drinks give short bursts of energy, but can actually cause fluid loss.

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The Truth About Sunburn


Sunburn doesn't just cause pain and redness. It can also cause long-term damage.


Between the beach, the pool, and the weekend cookouts, you may be having too much fun to worry about sunburn – until that telltale stinging and redness sets in. Sunburn isn't just painful – it's also bad for your health. The sun's rays contain two types of ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet A (UVA) causes tanning, aging skin, and wrinkles. Ultraviolet B (UVB) causes sunburn. Both can cause skin cancer, including a potentially serious skin cancer, melanoma. You can burn on sunny days, cloudy days, and cold days. The white sand on the beach and the white snow of winter both reflect the sun's rays. You can burn whether you're skiing on water or snow.


Signs of sunburn are redness and pain. You may also have swelling and blistering. A bad sunburn can lead to heat stroke and dehydration. Here is your risk for overexposure to the damaging UV rays. The number indicates the daily UV index, followed by the degree of risk.


The higher the UV index on a given day, the greater the need to protect yourself.

  • 0-2: low
  • 3-5: moderate
  • 6-8: high
  • 9-10: very high
  • 11+: extreme

To help prevent sunburn, follow these tips:

  • Use only water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing when possible. Always include a hat and sunglasses.
  • Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.
  • If your shadow is shorter than you are, get out of the sun.
  • Keep children in the shade and in protective clothing. Follow the same sunscreen rules for them that you would for yourself.
  • Don't use sunscreen on children younger than 6 months old. They should be kept out of the sun. If a child under age 1 gets sunburn, call your pediatrician right away.

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IRS Reiterates Prohibition of and Penalty for Pre-Tax Employer Reimbursement for Health Premiums


Recently, the IRS issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list that reiterates earlier guidance disallowing pre-tax employer reimbursements for employee health care premiums. The FAQ also calls attention to the $100 per day, per employee penalty for non-compliance.
The initial guidance from last fall indicated that pre-tax employer reimbursements for healthcare premiums would be categorized as group health plans and, thus, would not be permissible as they would not comply with the requirements for group health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Since that time, however, many people have attempted to find alternate solutions in order to continue the practice of reimbursing employee premiums in lieu of providing a full health plan.
This latest FAQ and penalty announcement clarifies that the IRS is serious about disallowing this arrangement. We recommend that employers who still utilize a pre-tax health care premium reimbursement benefit discontinue this practice. Any advice that employers have heeded with regard to these benefits still being allowed, should be carefully reexamined in light of this most recent guidance and penalty reminder.

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Summary Plan Description


Do you have your Summary Plan Description for your benefit plan?  As per ERISA you are required to have a Summary Plan Description in place, or you can be subject to fines/penalties from the Department of Labor. Please call dedicated servicing representative today to review what is required and make sure you are incompliance with the Affordable Care Act.


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August 2014









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