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February 8, 2006
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Health Plan Could Offer Too Much Choice
Excerpt: "Comparing retirement-savings choices to HSAs isn't exactly an apples-to-apples exercise. Retirement savings are for the distant future, while HSAs are for more immediate needs. And HSAs work like a checking account, where money goes in and out to pay for medical expenses." (The Philadelphia Inquirer; one-time registration required)

You Are What You Eat: Using Consumer Data to Predict Health Risk (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "Lifestyle-based analytics -- using data available from an abundance of consumer sources -- is one of the best ways to help actuaries and underwriters price health and life insurance." (Contingencies via Milliman)

Blog: Religious Employers, Civil Union Laws, and ERISA Preemption
Excerpt: "[This is] a case in which a Catholic hospital has refused to abide by a Connecticut law which requires employers to offer the same health benefits to domestic partners as given to spouses. The tricky part about analyzing this case is although the claim stems from rights derived from the CT civil union law, the employee is suing for se.xual orientation discrimination under the state's employment anti-discrimination laws." (Workplace Prof Blog)

General Motors Caps Retiree Health Benefits and Slashes Dividend
Excerpt: "General Motors Corp. continued its cost-cutting yesterday, reducing its stock dividend by half, capping health care benefits for thousands of retired office workers and slashing the pay of GM's most senior executives." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Future Uncertain for Auto Workers' Safety Net
Excerpt: "Members of the United Auto Workers union enjoy a one-of-a-kind deal with U.S. car makers: Idled workers do community service or watch videos and play cards -- all while earning full pay. But the Jobs Bank program is likely to be a contested issue in contract talks next year.... The little-known Jobs Bank program pays thousands of autoworkers who lost their jobs due to outsourcing or changing technology." (National Public Radio)

Reminder: Check Your Health Plan's Compliance with New HIPAA Portability Rules
Excerpt: "New examples in the regulations clarify that 'full' special enrollment rights into all available benefit options must be provided when a HIPAA special enrollment event occurs, ...." (Faegre & Benson LLP)

Blog: Baron to Help Argue ERISA Case to Supremes
Excerpt: "Roger Baron (South Dakota) will help argue an ERISA case before the Supreme Court this spring. The case, Sereboff v. Mid-Atlantic Medical Services, Inc. (from the Fourth Circuit), presents the issue of whether an ERISA insurer is entitled to reimbursement when a plan member receives a personal injury award from the tortfeasor." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Mental Illness Exacts a High Financial and Human Toll
Excerpt: "Having adequate supports for workers with mental illness benefits organizations financially and socially, experts say. Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, notes, 'Mental health and substance abuse disorders currently cost U.S. employers billions of dollars annually in lost worker productivity." (Employee Benefit News)

Blog: Retail Trade Group Seeks Invalidation of Maryland's Wal-Mart Bill on ERISA Preemption Grounds
Excerpt: "As readers of this blog know, I have written that I believe that such Fair Share laws are preempted, but other prominent commentators and academics have put forward equally sound arguments why ERISA preemption should not apply to the Maryland law. Rather than reiterating the competing legal analyses here, I am re-posting my analysis (which includes the Maryland Attorney General's opposite conclusion), as well as a helpful overview of this issue on The ERISA Blog a month or so back." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Lawsuit Filed Challenging Recent State Health Care Mandates
Excerpt: "The Retail Industry Leaders Association has filed a lawsuit challenging the new Fair Share Health Care Act recently passed in Maryland and a similar bill passed last fall in New York. The Association said the two laws illegally mandate specific health care expenditures and threaten to take away flexibility businesses need to deal with their employees, according to the Associated Press." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Wellness Programs Converting CEOs to the Cause
Excerpt: "After years of paying lip service to workplace health and wellness programs, top executives have become true believers, preaching and practicing the gospel from the top down. 'Executives are setting the tone for organizations in regards to living healthy, active lifestyles,' says Dr. Cedric Bryant, M.D., chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise." (Employee Benefit News)

CDHPs Most Effective for Managing Costs, Deloitte Survey Finds
Excerpt: "A consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) is the most effective plan design for managing costs and maintaining quality care, according to a plurality of employers participating in Deloitte Consulting's 2006 Survey on Reducing Corporate Health Care Costs." (Deloitte's Washington Bulletin via BenefitsLink.com)

Commentary: A Better Way to Spread the Health -- and the Wealth
Excerpt: "Where Bush goes off the rails is arguing that health care savings accounts are the best way to move the country toward a consumer-driven health care system based on catastrophic insurance. In truth, they are an expensive, inefficient and regressive way to accomplish that goal." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Blog: HSAs in the Blue Book
Excerpt: "Details on the Administration's proposals for expansion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), included in the General Explanations of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2007 Revenue Proposals (i.e., the 'Blue Book'), released [February 6, 2006] by the Treasury Department." (BeneBlog)

HSAs Perplex Some Workers: HSA Users May Need Assistance with Taxes
Excerpt: "The sophomore year of HSAs uncovered some kinks that employers are attempting to fix. Jeff Munn, a legal consultant for Hewitt Associates, observes, 'We had very few clients who put in an HSA for 2005. Those who did really got small enrollments.' Moreover, many employees who successfully enrolled in a high-deductible health plan didn't realize that they had to fill out more paperwork to open a bank account for their HSA." (Employee Benefit News)

The Jobs Act and Welfare Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "The enactment of the American Jobs Creation Act may impact all welfare benefit plans under Section 419A(f)(6)." (Advisor Today)

Ford Offers Severance Option to Workers
Excerpt: "Ford Motor Co. is offering buyouts of $100,000 each to workers who lose their jobs to plant closures if they agree to give up all benefits except their pensions." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Annual Funding Notice for Multiemployer Plans (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The obligation to provide the notice was added to ERISA by the Pension Funding Equity Act of 2004. According to the EBSA, the purpose of the notice is to provide all those parties interested in a plan's financial viability the opportunity to monitor the plan's funding status. In the past, it has often been difficult for employers contributing to multiemployer pension plans to obtain current data regarding a plan's funding status." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Overview: Proposed Amendments to the Executive Pay Disclosure Rules -- Compensation Committees (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The recently proposed SEC amendments will require the disclosure of almost all aspects of executive pay and benefits and also require more in-depth disclosure of the Compensation Committee's philosophy and rationale for its decision making." (Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP)

Analysis: SEC's Sweeping Compensation Disclosure Reform Proposal (PDF)
43 pages. Excerpt: "[T]he SEC has proposed amendments, which, if adopted, will implement numerous changes to the disclosure requirements for reporting companies. These changes have both an overarching component, mandating new substantive disclosures in a number of areas, and also a detailed component, requiring very specific new elements on discrete aspects of a particular disclosure requirement." (Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP)

Overview: SEC Proposal for Expanded Executive Compensation and Related Party Disclosure (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "[Orrick wants to] emphasize some of the hottest compensation issues of the moment that are left untouched by the proposal." (Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP)

Milliman's Monthly Benefit News and Developments, February 2006 (PDF)
2 pages. The newsletter provides a summary of the previous month's legislative, regulatory, and judicial information on employee benefits. (Milliman)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Assessing Nonqualified Deferred Compensation After 409A
Nationwide on February 15, 2006
presented by Retirement Capital Group

Best Business Practices for Retirement Plan Loan Management - Brown Bag Luncheon
in Ohio on February 28, 2006
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of Greater Cincinnati

CFDD 2006 Conference for Retirement Advisors
in Illinois on October 3, 2006
presented by Center for Due Diligence

Equity Compensation Plans for Private Companies
Nationwide on February 16, 2006
presented by Beyster Institute

Equity Compensation Plans for Private Companies
Nationwide on February 22, 2006
presented by Beyster Institute

ERISA Litigation
in Massachusetts on May 11, 2006
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

The Brave New World of Roth 401(k)
Nationwide on February 22, 2006
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Survey Shows Half of Large Firms Have Caps On Retiree Health Care Obligations
(Kaiser Family Foundation)

ICC Plan Solutions forms Strategic Alliance with InvestLink
(Metrics Partners)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

ERISA - Associate Legal Counsel
for T. Rowe Price
in MD

Sr. Benefits Analyst
for Saint-Gobain Corporation
in PA

Pension Administrator
for Retirement Planners
in VA

Senior Retirement Plan Consultant
for Invesmart, Inc.
in TX

Compliance Consultant
for ING US Financial Services
in PA

Senior HR Specialist/Benefits
for The Regional Medical Center
in SC

401 (k) Plan Administrator
for Polycomp Administrative Services, Woodland Hills (LA) and Roseville (Sacramento)
in CA

401(k) / Defined Contribution Administrator
for Campbells Administration Inc.
in CA




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