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April 22, 2008

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.


Today's sponsor is International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

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Banner ad for International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

E-learning Benefit Courses From the International Foundation

You don't need a navy suit to get ahead at your job. Put on those fuzzy slippers, grab your computer mouse and learn with the International Foundation. The International Foundationís e-learning courses provide the highest quality education covering all employee benefit topics, from the basics to compliance technicalities. Prove you know your stuff and get to the next level with the International Foundationís e-learning courses. And bring your pink bunny slippers along for the ride.

[Guidance Overview] Family Responsibilities Discrimination: Does It Really Exist?
Excerpt: "There has been an emerging focus on the legal issues related to the treatment of caregivers in the workplace with a significant increase of discrimination lawsuits on the basis of a person's caregiving responsibilities -- often referred to as Family Responsibilities Discrimination. But what is FRD? Does such a cause of action exist? This article serves to answer these questions." (The Legal Intelligencer via Blank Rome LLP)


[Guidance Overview] FMLA Update - Have You Posted the New Information?
Excerpt: "One thing that all employers covered by the FMLA should do immediately if they have not already done so is to post the Notice that the DOL did issue that advises employees of their new rights to military family leave. [T]he Notice can be obtained directly from the DOL's website [http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/NDAAAmndmnts.pdf]." (Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP)


[Guidance Overview] IRS Final Regulations on HSAs Not Established by December 31 and Accelerated Employer Contributions
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: While the final regulations apply to employer contributions made for calendar years beginning on or after January 1, 2009, employers may rely on them now for guidance. Thus, for employer contributions for the 2008 calendar year, employers may decide to follow the final regulations or may rely on IRS guidance issued in 2005, under which comparable contributions would not be required for a calendar year for employees who fail to establish HSAs by December 31 of that year." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview] Terminated Employee Who Needed Surgery May Proceed With ERISA Section 510 Interference Claim
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Proving an ERISA Section 510 interference claim is often an uphill battle for an employee, who must show that the employer acted with the specific intent to interfere with the employee's benefits. While it remains to be seen whether the employee in this case will prevail, the decision illustrates the types of employment-related missteps by an employer that might be used as evidence of pretext in a subsequent ERISA Section 510 action." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview] Court Denies Participant's Request for Claims Guidelines That Were Not Relied Upon in Determining Her Claim
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This claims administrator was not required to provide its guidelines because it was able to show that they were not used in determining the participant's claim. As noted in the decision, however, other courts have read the claims procedure regulations differently and might require guidelines of this type to be made available, even if they were not used or relied upon in the particular claim. Thus, employers, insurers, and third-party claims administrators should be prepared to provide copies of these types of documents if required." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


Phone Coaches May Not Cut It, Best Health Gains Had When Docs Are Onsite
Excerpt: "The bar for onsite health services just went up a little bit higher. A recent article from Drs. Raymond Fabius and Sharon Glave Frazee of CHD Meridian details why an onsite 'trusted clinician' is crucial to the recipe for a healthier, more productive and more profitable business." (Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)


The Commonwealth Fund/'Modern Healthcare' Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey: Views on Health Care Delivery System Reform
Excerpt: "The . . . Survey asked a diverse group of experts for their perspective on health care delivery system reform. Survey participants call for fundamental change in the way the U.S. delivery system is organized, with one of nine favoring such reform. Favored policy strategies for reform include strengthening the primary care system, encouraging care coordination, and promoting care management of high-cost patients with complex conditions. Opinion leaders also cite payment reform as an important strategy to enhance primary care physicians' ability to provide coordinated, high-quality care, as well as to help prevent costly hospitalizations." (The Commonwealth Fund)


Small Businesses and Holding the Line on Employee Benefits Costs
Excerpt: "If you want to get small-business owners riled up, ask them how much they're spending on employee health-care coverage. What can small employers do to hold down costs? To explore this and other questions, we spoke with Dan McCarthy, a principal in the New York life and health practice at Milliman Inc., a New York-based consulting firm whose clients include small employers." (The Wall Street Journal)


Should California Require Small Businesses to Offer Sick Days?
Excerpt: "Hundreds of small businesses in California say they can't afford to offer paid sick days to employees, but Assemblywoman Fiona Ma believes businesses actually could save money by doing so. The San Francisco Democrat's Assembly Bill 2716 would let workers earn paid sick days that could be used to recover from illness, care for a sick relative or recover from domestic violence or se.xual assault." (The Sacramento Bee)


Health Insurers Experience Effects of Recent Economic Downturn Despite History of Resisting Recession
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined 'what is shaping up to be a shaky earnings season' for health insurers in the face of the current economic recession. The Journal reports that '[e]conomic woes had little effect on health insurance profits' during the last two recessions -- in the early 1990s and the early 2000s -- because the industry was able to raise prices more quickly than health costs were rising." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


[Opinion] Evangelical from Conservative Background Not Your Typical Advocate for Single-Payer Healthcare
Excerpt: "While there are differences between the healthcare plans offered by Democratic presidential opponents Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, neither of them is proposing a single-payer system of national healthcare. That's despite the endorsement of precisely such a plan last December by the American College of Physicians, the largest medical specialty organization. We speak with Dr. Rocky White, a passionate, if unusual, advocate for a single-payer health insurance program." (NPR via Physicians for a National Health Program)


[Opinion] Health Care Reform: Systemic Change Will Focus on Returning Value
Excerpt: "As the political debate over the nation's healthcare crisis becomes increasingly polarized, it is tempting to believe that there are only two mutually exclusive paths before us. One proposal argues broadly for greater government involvement in order to ensure 'universal' coverage. The other depends on market forces or a 'consumer-driven' approach. But neither addresses the core challenge facing our healthcare system: providing quality and value." (Modern Healthcare Online; free registration required)


[Opinion] Are Employees Getting Healthier?
Excerpt: "Last week we asked you whether employees are actually getting healthier. Most of you -- a mixture comprised mainly of employers and brokers but also a few carriers and other vendors -- said no." (Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)


[Opinion] State, Not ERISA, Controls Assignment of Benefits to Minor, According to Court
Excerpt: "Just when it appears that a well-drafted subrogation and reimbursement provision of an ERISA group health plan takes precedent over state-law restrictions on the plan's recovery, we find that the Supreme Court of Mississippi has ruled that ERISA does not preempt a state law that requires approval of a Mississippi court regarding the allocation of a minor's settlement proceeds from a tort claim. The case is In re Guardianship of Danielle Holmes, 2007 WL 2792491 (Sup. Ct., Miss., Sept. 27, 2007)." (Passion for Subro, the personal subrogation blog of Attorney Adam V. Russo)


[Opinion] State Health Care Reform: Key Questions and Answers (PDF)
43 pages. Excerpt: "Simple logic dictates that it is nearly impossible to agree on a workable reform plan without agreement on a set of basic facts about what needs to be reformed. Many state reforms fail this test. This study poses some key questions the many state initiatives have failed to adequately address and makes some recommendations for successful evidence-based reforms." (National Center for Policy Analysis)



Sponsored by: WorldatWork

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Banner ad for WorldatWork

WorldatWork publications in the BenefitsLink Bookstore

WorldatWork, a not-for-profit professional association, is a leading publisher of compensation, benefits and total rewards information. With a portfolio of books, reports, survey briefs, booklets and online learning programs, WorldatWork creates, markets and distributes publications that are critical to improved organizational performance. WorldatWork has contributed to the education and development of business professionals worldwide since 1955.

(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Life Spans Decline in Some U.S. Areas
Excerpt: "Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington found that 4% of the male population and 19% of the female population experienced either declines or stagnation in their life expectancy in the '80s and '90s. The paper appears in the online non-profit journal The Public Library of Science.' (USA TODAY)


2008 ERISA Advisory Council Appointments Announced
Excerpt: "Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao has announced the appointment of new members and new leadership for the 2008 ERISA Advisory Council." (Wolters Kluwer)


[Opinion] On Discovery Problems and Solutions
Excerpt: "[I]t is past time for the courts to begin applying a more systemic and in-depth approach to controlling discovery. This is particularly important in the areas covered by this blog, ERISA litigation and insurance coverage litigation, where computerized data, communications and information processing, is almost literally the coin of the realm. Electronic discovery is therefore truly a major cost-driver and risk factor in these areas of the law." (Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm, LLC)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(K) Plan Costs Including Recent Update on Supreme Court Rule LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates Inc.
Nationwide on May 1, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

A Practical Approach to Developing a Wellness Program
Nationwide on May 30, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

Deductibility of Performance-Based Compensation under IRS Code Section 162(m) - Webcast
Nationwide on April 24, 2008
presented by West LegalEdcenter

Health Savings Accounts
Nationwide on May 7, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

Mental Illness and the ADA: An Employer's Challenge
Nationwide on April 23, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

Notice 2008-30
Nationwide on April 22, 2008
presented by Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC

Recognizing and Addressing COBRA
Nationwide on May 21, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

Wellness Programs: Rewards, Penalties and Legal Risks
Nationwide on April 25, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

The Future of Retirement Benefits
WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefit Network) Atlanta Chapter



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