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January 19, 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)

Overview: Dependent Definition Clarified for HSAs and Dependent Care FSAs
Excerpt: "Congress included some important technical corrections in the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-135) to update the definition of 'dependent' for purposes of employer-sponsored Dependent Care Assistance Programs including Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)." (Deloitte's Washington Bulletin via BenefitsLink.com)

Ford Offers Free College to Laid Off Workers
Excerpt: "Ford Motor Company is now offering laid-off workers at its Edison, New Jersey truck plant a deal to pay for the employee's college education and to get half of their usual salary plus full medical coverage. Under its new program, Ford will pay as much as $15,000 a year for tuition to United Auto Workers (UAW) members who go to school full time to earn a degree, the Wall Street Journal reported. The half-salary benefit amounts to about $27,000 a year." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Proposed Health Coverage Reform in Massachusetts: Net Gain for the Business Community (PDF)
20 pages. Excerpt: "The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a health reform bill (An Act Promoting Access to Health Care -- H. 4479) that is designed to expand health coverage for people in Massachusetts who are uninsured. To achieve this goal, the bill seeks to build on the current system of employer-provided health coverage." (Families USA Foundation)

State of the States -- January 2006 Report on Health Insurance Coverage Activities (PDF)
48 pages. Excerpt: "The State Coverage Initiative's (SCI) annual State of the States report summarizes state activities to expand health coverage throughout the past year. It also takes into account the environment and context within which states are working. This 2005 report is, unfortunately, not much different from that of last year. Times are still difficult for states and for coverage in general." (State Coverage Initiative and AcademyHealth)

Group Aims to Prove Disease Management's Worth
Excerpt: "The Disease Management Association of America launched an effort to establish an industry wide standard for measuring the financial and clinical outcomes of disease-management programs. The trade group said it will work with several public and private standards-setting organizations to develop a uniform measurement system, which the organization plans to unveil in early December." (Modern Healthcare; one-time registration required)

Editorial: Value-Based Health Insurance Design -- A 'Clinically Sensitive' Approach (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "[I]s it time to seriously reconsider the current employer-based system of health insurance? Although some analysts have espoused such a dramatic change, it appears Americans aren't ready to completely jettison this longstanding and well-accepted approach to providing health benefits. What seems more likely is incremental change to the employer-based healthcare benefit." (The American Journal of Managed Care)

What's Next for Plan Sponsors during Medicare's Open Enrollment Season?
Excerpt: "This Capital Checkup examines the following three aspects of the Medicare pres.cription drug program: The RDS and what's next from the RDS Center, Issues regarding enrollment in the Medicare program that frequently arise with retirees, and The outlook for retiree drug options in 2007." (The Segal Company)

Do Drug Formulary Policies Reflect Evidence of Value? (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Objective: To investigate the extent to which preferred drug lists and tiered formularies reflect evidence of value, as measured in published cost-utility analyses (CUAs)." (The American Journal of Managed Care)

Sixty-two Percent of Employers Feature Wellness Offerings
Excerpt: "The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans has released 'Wellness Programs', the tenth publication in its Survey & Sample Series. According to a news release, 80% of employers offering a wellness program provide wellness education, which may include books, newsletters, seminars or speakers on wellness topics." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Even Skeptical Employers Say They Will Consider an HSA Option
Excerpt: "The employers that participated in the forum said they probably would not contribute dollars directly to their employees' HSAs. Instead, they would likely offer low employee-paid premiums for the HDHP." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Medicare Advantage Fee-for-Service Plans: New Option for Employers
Excerpt: "What if there was a way to provide Medicare-eligible retirees with the same benefits that they get from the employer plan and Medicare Parts A and B -- and do so at less cost? What if you could do this without limiting retirees' choices of doctors or hospitals? It may sound too good to be true, but it is possible for many employers." (Towers Perrin)

Overview: Health Care Outlook 2006
Excerpt: "Several states were already seeking solutions to the problem of the uninsured, and the AFL-CIO has just geared up a coordinated effort to pass employer mandate legislation throughout the country." (HR Policy Association)

Analysis of the Dynamics of Health Insurance Coverage & Implications for Employer-Mandated Insurance (PDF)
34 pages. Excerpt: "This study ... uses paired samples from multiple years of the Current Population Survey (CPS) to explore the dynamics of health coverage in the United States. In particular, it estimates the factors that cause an individual to gain or lose coverage from year to year. These dynamics are critical for the creation of constructive policies to increase access to health coverage." (Employment Policies Institute)

Farmers Get Medical-Account Cash in Exchange for Promise to Sell Crops
Excerpt: "A century ago, when a farm family needed medical care but didn't have the money, a country doctor might instead accept a turkey, a bushel of apples or a sack of potatoes. Now, Cargill is bringing back a distant echo of that rural bartering system. Today it's unveiling a program that lets farmers swap a pledge to deliver some of next season's crop to Cargill, in exchange for Cargill depositing money into farmers' health savings accounts." (St. Paul Pioneer Press)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Slide in Use of Equity Incentives Continues
Excerpt: "Large employers have continued to scale back their use of equity incentives, especially stock options, according to a Towers Perrin analysis of existing stock plans of Fortune 500 companies." (Towers Perrin)

Overview: Proposed Changes to Executive Compensation Disclosure Announced by the SEC (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "At an open meeting held on January 17, 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to publish for comment proposed rules that would significantly change disclosure requirements relating to: (i) executive and director compensation; (ii) director independence, corporate governance and related person transactions; and (iii) Form 8-K." (Powell Goldstein LLP)

Overview: SEC Proposals to Expand Executive Compensation Disclosure (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The SEC also approved other proposals relating to disclosure of related party transactions, director independence and other corporate governance matters and modification of the Form 8-K requirements for reporting compensation arrangements. The proposals would change the disclosure required in proxy statements, Annual Reports on Form 10-K and registration statements." (Orrick)

Code 409A: Getting to Know and Love the Short-Term Deferral Rule
Excerpt: "The 'short-term deferral rule,' is an essential feature of the Code 409A regulatory environment. This advisory explains the short-term deferral rule and its applications." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.)

Overview of Proposed Changes to Disclosure Requirements Concerning Executive Compensation
Excerpt: "Under the proposal, executive compensation disclosure would be organized into three broad categories: (1) compensation over the last three years; (2) holdings of outstanding equity-related interests received as compensation that are the source of future gains; and (3) retirement plans and other post-employment payments and benefits." (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via Benefitsblog.com)

Look at Whose Pay Packages Companies Will Now Have to Make Public
Excerpt: "Current rules require that companies disclose the compensation of the chief executive and the next four highest-paid executives in management. The new rule ... will require companies to disclose the pay, severance, bonus, stock and option grants, and retirement packages of the chief executive, the chief financial officer, the next three highest paid executives - and as many as three other employees who receive more than any of the first five." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: SEC Issues Proposals for Expanded Executive Compensation Disclosure (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "As expected, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved [January 17, 2006] the release of proposals to amend its disclosure requirements with respect to executive compensation. The proposals will affect the disclosure in proxy statements, annual reports, prospectuses and Forms 8-K." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

2005 Legislative and Regulatory Year in Review and the Outlook for 2006 (PDF)
34 pages. Excerpt: "Several laws were enacted in 2005 affecting employers, but many other relevant issues, with a potentially greater impact on employers, have been deferred until 2006. While the November elections may impede the legislative output from Congress in 2006, certain 'must-pass' bills, e.g., budget reconciliation and retirement plan reforms, will top the agenda." (Hewitt Associates)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2006 Employee Ownership Conference
in Minnesota on April 26, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and the Beyster Institute

Cafeteria Plan Election Changes--What's Permitted, What's Not?
Nationwide on February 9, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Expedia Chooses Corporate Focus: They Need to Vacation Too: - Leading Companies Select Corporate Focus to Centralize Corporate Records and Manage Entity Information
(Two-Step Software, Inc.)

PERFORMAX and Interactive Health Solutions Form Alliance
(PERFORMAX)

Council Urges Treasury To Make Available ESOP Tax Deduction To U.S. Companies Owned By Foreign Parents
(American Benefits Council)

New Survey Finds 62% of Employers Offer Wellness Initiatives
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Compliance Specialist
for The Newport Group
in NC

401(k) Recordkeeper / Supervisor
for Beyer - Barber Company
in PA

Plan Administrator
for Sanders Petmecky, LLC
in GA

Employee Benefits Tax Consultant
for Deloitte Tax, LLP
in GA

Employee Benefits Tax Consultant
for Deloitte Tax, LLP
in NC

ERISA / Pensions Legal Counsel
for Nationwide Insurance
in OH

Public Relations and Corporate Communications Specialist
for RG Wuelfing & Associates
in NC

Financial Planner/Investment Specialist (part-time)
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in AL




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