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February 7, 2006
Today's sponsor: Financial Research Associates

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STARS & STRIPES: National Public Employees' Retirement Funds Summit

April 2rd - 4th, 2006
The Wyndham Casa Marina Resort, Key West, FL

Stars & Stripes gives you the information you need to best manage your fund in these challenging times. With the majority of our attendees from the plan sponsor community, you're certain to learn both from the outstanding speaker faculty and your peers!

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

Maryland Law Targeting Wal-Mart to Pay More for Workers' Plans Is Triggering Campaigns Nationwide
Excerpt: "Yet it is not at all clear that the Maryland initiative or other proposals will do much to solve the problem. During legislative hearings in Maryland, Lisa Woods, director of benefits administration for Wal-Mart, testified that the company already was spending between 7 percent and 8 percent of payroll on health care. If that were true, then the Maryland law would only modestly increase Wal-Mart's health-care spending, if at all." (The Philadelphia Inquirer; one-time registration required)

Blog: GASB on Medicare Part D
Excerpt: "Medicare Part D subsidy payments for pres.cription drug coverage do not connote transfer to the federal government of a portion of a governmental employer's obligation for postemployment health care coverage, according to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. Accordingly, payments received from the federal government should not be reported as reduction of an expenditure or expense, but instead as revenue ...." (BeneBlog)

Court Says FMLA Notice Requirement Could be Impractical
Excerpt: "A federal judge in Alabama handed workers a legal victory by ruling that an employer may not legally be able to require workers needing family leave to telephone the office an hour ahead of time." ( one-time registration required)

Insurance Broker Who Stole Plan Assets Is an ERISA Fiduciary
Excerpt: "Although the court was clear that its decision was not intended to extend fiduciary status to 'every person who exercises 'mere possession, or custody' over the plans' assets,' what also should be clear is that, where a provider goes beyond being 'a mere custodian,' it likely will be found to be a fiduciary." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Employers Say Adoption Is a Benefit Used by a Very Small Percentage of the Work Force
Excerpt: "Cornell is one of only a handful of local employers, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., to offer adoption benefits. Many of those companies try to match their benefits to those offered by the top 100 family-friendly workplaces as listed by Working Mother magazine. Of the top 100 employers, 92 percent have some sort of adoption assistance, whether it's a grant, paid or unpaid time off or referral services." (The Post-Standard)

Employers Return to Luxury Perks
Excerpt: "Massages on demand and concierges at employees' beck and call seem like relics of the tech boom, but more employers are adopting such perks to stem turnover or keep workers happy in an era of health care cuts." (Employee Benefit News)

Travel Incentives Used to Fill Gaps from Benefit Cuts
Excerpt: "As health care costs continue to shrink budgets for other benefits, employers are looking for inexpensive ways to boost employee morale and performance. A trip to Las Vegas or a digital camera might do the trick for some employers. Vendors say such incentives are a more cost-effective way to increase employee productivity." (Employee Benefit News)

School Systems Face Retiree Health Care Squeeze
Excerpt: "In a few cases, high costs and large numbers of retirees threaten to limit or cut off health benefits altogether, even in places where contracts negotiated long ago assured lifetime benefits. What's more, stringent new accounting rules will soon force school districts to begin planning for future retirees, in effect forcing districts to either fund their benefits now or drop them." (USA TODAY)

Employee with Newborn Was Entitled to HIPAA Special Enrollment Followed by COBRA Election
Excerpt: "This case raises the interesting question of whether an individual requesting HIPAA special enrollment must be eligible for coverage on the date of the request. The court in this case based its reasoning in part on HIPAA's requirement that coverage obtained through special enrollment of a newborn be effective retroactively to the date of birth." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

NYC Mayor Calls for Citywide Electronic Health Records
Excerpt: "In last year's budget proposal, President George Bush called for $100 million to fund new projects in health information technology. This week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg called for the same amount to be spent for health IT in his city. The proposal -- to equip 100 city-operated clinics and doctors' offices with EHR (electronic health records) -- could lead to one of the world's biggest experiments in health IT." (eWeek)

Court Rejects ADA and ERISA Claims by Terminated Employee with Mentally Ill Wife
Excerpt: "The result in this case isn't surprising, given the difficulties that employees often face in proving a discriminatory motive. .... Note that the ADA does not require an employer to provide more generous health coverage to employees with disabled dependents than that provided to other employees with dependents, but there must be 'equal access' to health coverage." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: Health Care Mandates for Grocers and 'Big Box' Retailers (PDF)
Pages 2-3 of 4 pages. Excerpt: "In 2005, lawmakers in 11 state legislatures proposed bills that would mandate employer-paid health care. The majority of these bills have not made it through the legislative process. However, in New York, both New York City and Suffolk County, recently passed legislation requiring certain grocery employers to commit a minimum level of funding to health care for their employees." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Health Savings Accounts Would Eat Up Medicare Savings
Excerpt: "President Bush's proposal to expand tax-free health savings accounts would cost the U.S. Treasury $59 billion over five years, more than offsetting the savings he seeks from limiting the growth of Medicare." (USA TODAY)

Overview: Medicare Part D -- Employer Notice to CMS
Excerpt: "Overall, the notice is relatively straightforward, particularly as plan sponsors were already required to determine whether their pres.cription drug coverage was 'creditable' in order to issue the required notice to Part D eligible participants. However, plan sponsors will need to collect some data in order to file by the March 31, 2006 deadline, including an estimate of the number of Medicare Part D eligible individuals participating in the plan." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

Addressing the Impact of Biotechnology Medications on Health Benefits (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "In order to properly evaluate both the clinical and financial impact of biotechnology medications, actuarial modeling tools can be used to analyze and assess the implications of various benefit design decisions, as this article explains." (Aon Consulting)

Overview: Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Disclosure to CMS Required by March 31, 2006 (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "CMS generally requires these entities to file a creditable coverage disclosure with CMS both annually (whether or not such coverage is creditable) and when the creditable coverage status of the pres.cription drug coverage changes. An initial disclosure notice to CMS must be made by March 31, 2006." (Powell Goldstein LLP)

White Paper: Evaluating Alternatives for Consumer-Driven Health Care (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "The consumer-driven approach has been widely publicized, but the concepts involved and alternatives available are not always well understood. This article is intended to help the reader better understand the consumer-driven approach and compare it with traditional health benefit plans." (Sanders, Schnabel & Brandenburg, P.C.)

Nissan Drops Company Health Care for US Retirees
Excerpt: "Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (7201.T) is dropping company-sponsored health-care coverage for its retired manufacturing employees in the United States and will instead pay them an annual stipend." (Reuters via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Level of Employer Involvement Makes Plan Subject to ERISA, Not Exempt As a Voluntary Plan
Excerpt: "As the court noted, an otherwise voluntary plan is exempt from ERISA only if the employer 'separates itself from the plan, making it reasonably clear that the plan is a third-party offering.'" (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

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

Application of Deferred Compensation Rules under Code Section 409A to Separation Pay Arrangements (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "This Client Alert focuses on the treatment of severance plans and other arrangements that provide for payments upon a separation from service under the proposed regulations issued under Code Section 409A." (Powell Goldstein LLP)

Executive Remuneration Perspective: SEC to Overhaul Executive Pay Disclosure
Excerpt: "Although the proposals are unlikely to be adopted until later this year, they are accompanied by several interpretations of the current disclosure rules (particularly the rules governing perquisites disclosure), which will likely affect the form and content of corporate disclosures in the upcoming proxy season." (Mercer Human Resource Consulting LLC and Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.; one-time registration required)

Overview: Executive and Director Compensation Disclosure (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "The proposed rules would refine the currently required executive compensation tabular disclosure and require improved narrative disclosure regarding executive compensation." (Snell & Wilmer)

Overview: DOL Releases Fiscal Year 2005 Employee Benefit Plan Enforcement Statistics
Excerpt: "The DOL uses information gathered from a variety of sources to decide which plans to subject to civil or criminal investigation. Included among these sources are the informal complaints the DOL receives and data collected from Form 5500 annual reports, including accompanying Schedules and independent accountants' opinions (auditor reports)." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Addressing Employee Privacy Issues and Preventing Violence in the Workplace
in California on February 28, 2006
presented by Precept Human Capital Management

Addressing Employee Privacy Issues and Preventing Violence in the Workplace
in California on March 2, 2006
presented by Precept Human Capital Management

Addressing Employee Privacy Issues and Preventing Violence in the Workplace
in California on March 7, 2006
presented by Precept Human Capital Management

Educational Workshops for Self Directed IRAs
in Florida on March 1, 2006
presented by PENSCO Trust Company

The Consumer Directed Health Care Conference
in California on May 8, 2006
presented by Transmarx, LLC

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Segal Compliance Alert: "PBGC Premiums Increased Significantly by the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act"
(The Segal Company)

Sample Contract Language Available for Compliance with SEC Rule 22c-2
(SPARK Institute)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Employee Products Marketing Communication Manager (Pension Products)
for CUNA Mutual Group
in WI

Director, Benefits Compliance
for Gevity
in FL

Sr. Relationship Manager, Retirement Services
in CA, TX

Director of Technology
for CDM Retirement Consultants
in MD

Sr. Sales Recruiter
for ING US Financial Services
in CA

Employee Benefits/ERISA Associate
for Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL
in OH

Compensation Consultant - Non Qualified Executive Benefits
for Buck Consultants, an ACS company
in GA

Investment Education Consultant
for Fidelity Investments
in TN

OmniPlus Expert
for DC Specialists

Conversion/DeConversion Processing Specialist
for Benesystems
in AZ

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Copyright 2006, Inc.; except that you may reprint this newsletter in full (including this sentence) without obtaining our permission.

Published by:, Inc.
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Fax: (407) 644-2151

Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.