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January 10, 2006
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(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Relocation Coaches Take Pain Out of Transferring for Employees
Excerpt: "Accepting a transfer means tackling hundreds of decisions around selling the old house, buying a new house, school enrollment, childcare, packing needed items and purging the rest. Companies may look to lighten the task for their transferees, who are sure to have plenty of questions about their new location." (Employee Benefit News)

U.S. Outsources Health Data to Countries with Poor Privacy Rankings
Excerpt: "While Americans worry about identity theft and patient privacy in their own backyard, their data is being shipped to workers in other countries with fewer privacy protections, according to a recent report from Capitol Hill." (REPORT ON PATIENT PRIVACY via AISHealth.com)

Editorial: Congress Should Reform Patient Privacy Laws
Excerpt: "In cases stretching back years, the federal courts have upheld Americans' fundamental right to keep prying eyes from obtaining access to their most personal health information. Why, then, have the courts of late been unable, or unwilling, to plug the biggest potential lapse in patient privacy - one triggered by a Bush administration policy?" (The Philadelphia Inquirer; one-time registration required)

Reducing the Pain and Cost of Rheumatoid Arthritis for the Employee and the Employer
Excerpt: "How much is rheumatoid arthritis hurting your organization's bottom line? .... [I]t is often difficult to determine the best approach for disease management program spending. The good news is that new analytic tools and research are giving employers the information they need to make important decisions about their healthcare benefit programs." (Employee Benefit News)

West Virginia Considers Groundbreaking Cash-Out Plan for State Employees
Excerpt: "Federal union officials and national legislative analysts said West Virginia might be ahead of the curve with a possible plan to let active teachers and other state employees cash out vacation and sick days to help pay for rising [health] insurance premiums." (Charleston Daily Mail)

Abstract of Article: The Cost-Shift Payment 'Hydraulic': Foundation, History, and Implications
Excerpt: "In this paper [the authors] provide a series of examples of cost shifting and a historical profile of the cost shift in the hospital industry since 1980, noting that cost-shifting pressures seem to fluctuate over time and across health care markets. Cost shifting need not be dollar per dollar, as hospitals can absorb some degree of cost-shifting pressure through increased efficiency and decreases in service provision." (Health Affairs; subscription required for full text access)

Record Share of U.S. Economy Is Spent on Health Care
Excerpt: "Rising health care costs, already threatening many basic industries, now consume 16 percent of the nation's economic output -- the highest proportion ever, the government said yesterday in its latest calculation. The nation's health care bill continued to grow substantially faster than inflation and wages, increasing by almost 8 percent in 2004, the most recent year with near-final numbers." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Growth of National Health Spending Slows Along with Drug Sales
Excerpt: "The growth of national health spending slowed in 2004, mainly because insurers reined in drug costs so that spending on pharma.ceuticals increased at the slowest rate in a decade, the Bush administration said Monday." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Why Budget Fixes Can't Wait
Excerpt: "The nub of the challenge is the confluence of three long-term trends: People are living longer, healthcare costs keep rising, and government has promised to pay much of the tab for retirees. Pres.cription-drug coverage is the latest example of promises rising faster than funding. 'With the stroke of a pen [President Bush] creates a liability that's actually twice the size of Social Security problem,' in terms of its future shortfall, ...." (The Christian Science Monitor via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Overview: Guidance Issued on Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Disclosure to CMS (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "On January 4, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued long-awaited guidance on the obligation for entities to inform CMS of whether pres.cription drug coverage is creditable for purposes of Medicare Part D. The guidance mandates that most entities providing pres.cription drug coverage complete an electronic Creditable Coverage Disclosure in order to inform CMS of whether the coverage is creditable or noncreditable." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Overview: Employers Must Make Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Disclosure to CMS
Excerpt: "This new Disclosure must be completed on-line no later than March 31, 2006 for plan years that end in 2006. (This disclosure was originally due to CMS by November 15, 2005, but the due date was extended)." (Ice Miller LLP)

Drilling Down on Obesity at Black & Decker
Excerpt: "Blue collar workers - roughly 40 percent of the company's 10,000 U.S.-based employees - have experienced higher rates of obesity than other employees, and obesity often plays a role in the health status of Black & Decker employees who are on long-term disability leave as a result of back pain and hip, knee and ankle problems." (Employee Benefit News)

Experts Debate Consumer-Driven Health Plans in Wall Street Journal Discussion
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on [January 9, 2006] published a debate among three experts over issues related to consumer-driven health plans. Debate participants included Joseph Antos, former assistant director for health and human resources at the Congressional Budget Office; John Goodman, founder and president of the National Center for Policy Analysis; and Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and vice chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Bush Signs Bill Expanding Access to TRICARE for National Guard Members and Reservists
Excerpt: "President Bush on [January 6, 2006] signed into law the $491.5 billion fiscal year 2006 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1815), which expands access to TRICARE, the military health insurance system, for National Guard members and reservists, ...." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Banks to Pursue Health Savings Accounts' Business
Excerpt: "Banks increasingly are viewing health savings accounts as a lucrative source of potential income and are promoting themselves as naturals for managing them, .... Last month, The HSA Council, a Washington-based trade organization, was launched to promote the use of HSAs and the interests of banks that administer the accounts. The council, with 12 initial member companies - nine of which are banks - is an offshoot of the American Bankers Association, ...." (Investment News; registration or subscription required)

Employers Have Key Role in Supporting Employees with Special-Needs Children
Excerpt: "Parents of children with special needs often times add physicians, court officials and physical or behavioral therapists to that support group. What employers generally fail to realize is that they, too, have an important role to play in supporting working parents of special needs children." (Employee Benefit News)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Policy/Plan Provisions Trump Marital Settlement Agreement in Florida Case
Excerpt: "The Florida Supreme Court has held that without specific reference in a property settlement agreement to life insurance proceeds or proceeds of retirement plans, the beneficiary is determined by looking only to the insurance contract or retirement plan. While it may be possible in a marital settlement agreement to waive one's right as a beneficiary, that waiver can only be accomplished if the waiving party specifically gives up his or her rights to the 'proceeds' or the 'benefits.'" (Cypen & Cypen)

District Judge Rules No Benefits for G.ay Couples
Excerpt: "A Colorado Springs judge has ruled that the city did not act illegally when it abruptly canceled benefits for the partners of g.ay and les.bian employees. Fourth Judicial District Judge Richard Hall cited a 1994 ruling that said denying benefits to unmarried same-sex couples is acceptable as long as a city also denies them to unmarried heterose.xual partners." (365G.ay.com)

The Best Benefits at the Best 100 Companies To Work For in 2006
Excerpt: "From generous health care plans to subsidized cars, these companies are standouts when it comes to the great perks they offer employees." (Fortune via CNN Money)

2006 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans
Excerpt: "The Segal Company's 2006 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans summarizes compliance requirements for multiemployer plans. To see a brief description of each requirement and information about such details as the plan(s) affected, filing requirements and due dates, click on any item listed [on the target page]." (The Segal Company)

2006 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "The Segal Company's 2006 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans summarizes compliance requirements for qualified, single employer benefit plans. To see a brief description of each requirement and information about such details as the plan(s) affected, filing requirements and due dates, click on any item listed [on the target page]." (The Segal Company)

Listing of Published Guidance for January -- December 2005
Guidance published by the Service relating to retirement plans. (U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

Opinion: 2006 -- A Crisis Year in the Making
Excerpt: "I'm going out on a limb with a prediction: 2006 will be a crisis year in financial security for Americans. Of course, the crisis really began several years ago, but 2006 will be a turning point in recognizing the serious nature of what we have wrought. ERISA was born out of a crisis as well--the unfunded promises for pensions. Sound familiar?" (Richard D. Quinn, Views & Vents via BenefitNews.com)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Testing in 2006: Basics and Beyond
Nationwide on February 2, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Control and Affiliated Service Group Determinations
Nationwide on February 16, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Employee Benefits in Mergers & Acquisitions
in New York on April 27, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

ERISA Basics 20th National Institute
in Illinois on May 10, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Form 5500 Update
Nationwide on March 28, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

McKay Hochman First Quarter 2006 Update
Nationwide on February 9, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

The Roth 401(k) Final Regulations
Nationwide on February 1, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Working with the Final 401(k) and 401(m) Regulations
Nationwide on January 18, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Fiserv Expands Solutions for HSAs, HRAs and FSAs
(Fiserv, Inc.)

Labor Department Issues Rules on Multiemployer Pension Plan Funding Notices
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Pension Advisors Introduces AdviseMe!TM to Help Participants Achieve Their Dreams
(Pension Advisors)

Labor Unions at AA Voice Concern over Executive Bonuses
(Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Qualified Plan Services
for Pension Professionals of St. Louis
in ANY STATE

Account Executive - Client Relationship Development
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in MA

Retirement Plan Analyst (2 positions)
for Invesmart, Inc.
in WA

CRS Account Manager III
for Wilmington Trust
in DE

Defined Contribution Administrator
for PenSys, Inc.
in CA

401 (k) Administrator
for Compliance/Administration Company
in NJ

401(k) Administrator - Analyst
for The Pension Group, Inc.
in CA

401(k) Administration position in San Diego
for Means & Associates, LLC
in CA

Defined Contribution/401(k) plan administrator
for Suburban Maryland TPA
in MD

Assistant Manager - Supply Center
for 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund
in NY

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Qualified Plans, LLC
in GA

Health and Welfare Specialist
for Administaff
in TX

Pension Clerical Assistant
for 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund
in NY

Strategic Planning Director
for Transamerica
in CA

Business Analyst Needed for Pension Administrative Software!
for Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.
in IL




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