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January 17, 2006
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Ending 2005 with Balances in Flexible Spending Accounts
Excerpt: "[S]ome consumer and business groups are pushing for a legislative fix that would allow all FSA participants to roll over unused funds to the next year." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Overview: Short-Term Disability Plan Not Subject to ERISA Even Though Described As ERISA Plan in SPD
Excerpt: "This case confirms that the label applied to a benefit does not dictate whether that benefit is subject to ERISA. Nevertheless, we caution employers and advisors of the unintended consequences of imprecise drafting. An argument could be made that references to ERISA rights in plan documents for an ERISA-exempt plan might operate to incorporate those rights in the plan and make them enforceable as a matter of state contract law." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Labor Groups Promote Bills Requiring Large Employers to Up Spending on Employee Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Labor groups this week hope to 'capitalize on anti-Wal-Mart sentiment and to build momentum' in a number of states, such as New Hampshire and Washington state, for legislation that would require large employers to increase spending on employee health insurance after Maryland enacted such a bill last week, the Washington Post reports ...." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Opinion: Washington State Health Care Bill too Short-Sighted
Excerpt: "The Fair Share Health Care Act has already been introduced in the House (2517) and Senate (6356) of the Washington Legislature. The bills propose that companies with more than 5,000 employees pay at least 9 percent of their payroll costs for health care, or pay the difference between those costs and 9 percent to the state." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Audio: Nationwide Legislation on Employee Health Care?
Excerpt: "Laura Tobler, health policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, discusses legislation passed in Maryland that requires large employers to increase spending on worker health insurance. The bill primarily affects Wal-Mart stores, though Tobler says similar measures nationwide don't specifically target the retailer." (All Things Considered via National Public Radio)

Opinion: Wal-Mart Mandate Not the Answer for Health Coverage Woes
Excerpt: "We think the best course of action for state legislators-if their goal is to expand coverage-is to take steps to make health care more affordable. That means, for starters, passing fair and balanced tort reform measures and requiring hospitals to disclose publicly more cost and quality information so consumers can make better and more informed choices when selecting providers." (Business Insurance)

Maryland Law Aimed at Wal-Mart May Be Hard to Replicate
Excerpt: "When the Maryland legislature passed a law last week requiring that its largest employers, including Wal-Mart Stores, spend at least 8 percent of their payrolls on health care, supporters of the measure claimed they had delivered a clear message to corporate America: companies cannot shirk their duty to employees." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

President Tells Insurers to Aid Ailing Medicare Drug Plan
Excerpt: "With tens of thousands of people unable to get medicines promised by Medicare, the Bush administration has told insurers that they must provide a 30-day supply of any drug that a beneficiary was previously taking, and it said that poor people must not be charged more than $5 for a covered drug." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: Disclosure of Creditable Coverage Information to CMS Required in Electronic Form
Excerpt: "Filing the disclosure form electronically should be easy, but finding some of the required information might be more difficult -- for example, employers might not know how many Part D eligible individuals are covered under their plans, so the estimates required by the form might be far from an accurate reflection of reality." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Wall Street Journal Examines Some Employers' Move to Offer More Limited Health Plans
Excerpt: "With rising health costs, 'mini-medical' or 'limited-benefit' plans that cover only routine physician visits and offer little to no coverage for hospitalization or emergency care have become popular options for some U.S. companies as an alternative to more comprehensive plans, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Info & Debate over ERISA Preemption with Maryland's Passage of the 'Fair Share Health Care Fund Act'
This January 15 entry contains numerous important links regarding the debate. (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via Benefitsblog.com)

Words from the President of The Commonwealth Fund -- Targets for the U.S. Health System
Excerpt: "The Commonwealth Fund feels the time is again ripe for foundation leadership and thus has established a Commission on a High Performance Health System. The Commission has just begun its work yet it has already identified 10 priorities for deliberation and, ultimately, for a high-performance health system, which would be organized around these core values: ...." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Are Adults Benefiting from State Health Coverage Expansions?
14 pages. Excerpt: "Public coverage does increase as a result of states' program expansions, but sometimes at the expense of private coverage. This study provides a rigorous evaluation of state efforts to expand insurance coverage in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Overall, parents in Wisconsin and parents and childless adults in Massachusetts experienced the largest expansions in public coverage, with few, if any, offsetting reductions in private coverage." (Health Affairs)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Text of Proposed FSP FAS 123(R)-d (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "This proposed FASB Staff Position (FSP) addresses the classification of options or similar instruments issued as employee compensation that allow for cash settlement upon the occurrence of a contingent event. The guidance in this proposed FSP would amend paragraphs 32 and A229 of FASB Statement No. 123 (revised 2004), Share-Based Payment." (Financial Accounting Standards Board)

Editorial: The Test for the Securities and Exchange Commission
Excerpt: "The question is whether the SEC's proposal will go as far as it should, especially on retirement compensation. At present, firms are not required to disclose the value of defined-benefit pension promises to executives, so reports of bosses' pay generally leave these out. But the value of these promises can be enormous." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

SEC to Vote Today on Rules for Executive Pay
Excerpt: "Federal securities regulators are moving to require companies to provide far greater detail about their executives' pay packages and perks in an effort to bring more transparency to an area that has provoked investor and public anger." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Accounting Changes May Squeeze Pensions
Excerpt: "[S]ome experts say new regulations requiring companies to more accurately calculate and show the cost of their retirement promises could speed up the move by employers away from guaranteed pensions and other benefits." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Executive Pay under Pressure from Many Quarters
Excerpt: "The SEC, institutional investors and Congress are bearing down on companies, demanding better executive performance and disclosure of perks." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

The 2 Faces of AARP
Excerpt: "Once, AARP mostly flew below corporate radar. That's when it was the American Association for Retired Persons, and so, by definition, it had nothing to do with anyone's employees. Now, however, AARP has banished 'retired' from its name, going simply by its former acronym. It is perhaps best known as the political behemoth that stopped private Social Security accounts cold." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Failure to Inform Participants of Material Information May Be Basis for Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Excerpt: "The court ruled that although the employer had the right to terminate coverage, it did not have the right as an ERISA fiduciary to make material misstatements or to provide incomplete, inconsistent, or contradictory disclosures that misinformed beneficiaries." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Plans Have a Number of Funding Options for Deferred Compensation
Excerpt: "Much like the world of qualified plans, the prevalence of 'defined contribution' deferred compensation arrangements is proliferating rapidly. These plans, increasingly, have the look and feel of a 401(k) plan to participants ...." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Bush and Congress Lack Courage to Fix Entitlements
Excerpt: "The irony was stark. On Jan. 1, the new Medicare drug program began. It is the most costly addition to federal entitlements in decades and was enacted with full backing by President George W. Bush. Then on Jan. 6, Bush issued another call for spending restraint to slow the growth of entitlements." (Bloomberg News & Commentary)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2nd Annual All-Day ERISA Seminar
in Florida on April 27, 2006
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of South Florida

3rd Annual All-Day ERISA Seminar
in Florida on April 19, 2007
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of South Florida

Advanced IRA Issues
in Texas on February 8, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Texas on February 10, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in California on February 15, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Kansas on February 17, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in California on February 17, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in New Mexico on February 22, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Arizona on February 24, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Fiduciary Issues in Retirement Plans: The Duty to Protect Participants
in Florida on March 24, 2006
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of South Florida

Hurricane Katrina Relief
Nationwide on January 31, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

IRA Essentials
in Texas on February 7, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Texas on February 9, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in California on February 14, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Kansas on February 16, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in California on February 16, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in New Mexico on February 21, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Arizona on February 23, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

The Brave New World of Roth 401(k)
in Massachusetts on February 16, 2006
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council (ABC) of New England

Web/Telephone Seminar: Amending and Restating Qualified Plans for EGTRRA
Nationwide on February 7, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Individual(k) Plans
Nationwide on February 23, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Introduction to Roth 401(k)s
Nationwide on February 8, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Beneficiary Distributions
Nationwide on February 7, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Fundamentals for Frontline Personnel - Part I
Nationwide on February 14, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Fundamentals for Frontline Personnel - Part II
Nationwide on February 16, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Required Minimum Distributions
Nationwide on February 9, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE) Plans
Nationwide on February 16, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Plans
Nationwide on February 14, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Withholding
Nationwide on February 2, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Developing ESOP Trends
Nationwide on February 9, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Illinois on January 31, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Wisconsin on January 31, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Wisconsin on February 1, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Missouri on February 2, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Wisconsin on February 2, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Illinois on February 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Alabama on February 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in South Dakota on February 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in North Dakota on February 8, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Georgia on February 8, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Missouri on February 8, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

World at Work T1-Total Rewards Management Course
in Texas on March 1, 2006
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Two Quarterly Interest Rates Set
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

IRS Settlement Deadline Approaches
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))

California Follows IRS Tax Shelter Initiative
(Franchise Tax Board (FTB))

Morgan Lewis: Winner of the 2006 Litigation Department of the Year - Labor and Employment Category by "The American Lawyer"
(Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Defined Contribution Conversion Specialist
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in NJ

Sr. Community Health Care Advisor
for NRECA
in VA

Pension Administrator
for Hunter Benefits Consulting Group
in IL

Tax/Employee Benefits Attorney
for Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP
in NY

Legal Consultant
for Hewitt Associates
in CA

401 (k) Administrator
for Scholz, Klein & Friends Enlightened Retirement Group, Inc.
in TX

Senior Pension Adminstrator
for American Fiduciary Corporation
in MA

Health & Welfare Benefits Administrator
for Toshiba America, Inc.
in CA

Retirement Plan Administrator
for TEGRA Financial Partners
in GA

Pension Administrator (Defined Benefit and/or Defined Contribution)
for Loren D. Stark Company, Inc. (LDSCO)
in TX

Senior Plan Administrator
for American National Insurance Company
in TX

Actuarial Associate
for Stephen H. Rosen & Associates, Inc.
in NJ

Pension Administrator (DC/401k)
for Pension Plan Services, Inc.
in IA

Business Development Officer - Retirement Plan Services
for Southeast Financial Institution
in NC, TN

Retirement Plan Case Manager/Administration
for Lifetime Benefits LLC
in MD

Product Manager
for Administaff
in TX

Actuary
for New York City Office of the Actuary
in NY

Retirement Plan Services Associate - Plan Controller
for Wells Fargo
in MN


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