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February 9, 2006
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Flex HSA Act Aims to Improve Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "Representative Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) introduced the Flex HSA Act (H.R.4511) on December 13, 2005. The act aims to promote health savings accounts (HSAs) by raising the limit on HSA contributions and permitting individuals covered by flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to contribute to HSAs." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

California Pay-for-Performance Programs Draws National Attention
Excerpt: "Medical movers and shakers convened in Los Angeles this week -- more than 600 of them -- to assess the first five years and chart the next five of the country's largest health care pay for performance program. Integrated Health Association, which now serves as a model for other pay-for-performance efforts across the country, comprises a statewide consortium of health plans, physician groups, health care systems, business groups and consumer groups." (California HealthCare Foundation)

RI Governor Proposes Health Coverage Program for Small Business Workers, Uninsured Residents
Excerpt: "Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri (R) on Monday announced a multipart, multimillion dollar proposal that would create a state-subsidized health insurance program for the uninsured and low-wage workers in small businesses, the Providence Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

'Best-of-Breed' Disease Management Strategies Are High-Quality and Cost-Effective
Excerpt: "Many view the 'best-of-breed' vendor strategy as a dying approach to disease management, but some managed care organizations (MCOs) still swear by it. Critics say it's more expensive to use a different vendor for each condition, requires much more coordination among vendors and makes it more difficult to manage comorbidities." (INSIDE DISEASE MANAGEMENT via AISHealth.com)

Cancer Drug Costs, Treatments and Concerns Continue to Increase
Excerpt: "As many plans move to more cost sharing through percentage-type copayments and coinsurance, 'for a large part of the public, this could constitute a financial burden,' he contends. 'At the same time, there are a large number of states where coverage for cancer is mandated at the state level. Payment issues with some of these therapies may become an issue.'" (SPECIALTY PHARMACY NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Research Report: Trends in Manufacturer Prices of Pres.cription Drugs Used by Older Americans
Excerpt: "These AARP Public Policy Institute reports present the results of studies of changes in manufacturers' pres.cription drug list prices (i.e., the prices set by drug manufacturers to charge wholesalers and other direct purchasers for drug products) for roughly 200 brand name and 75 generic pres.cription drugs most widely used by Americans age 50+." (AARP)

Express Scripts and Caremark Try Novel Generic Promotion Strategies
Excerpt: "The goal of generic promotion programs is not to 'decrease the use of appropriate medications,' says Jan Berger, M.D., Caremark's senior vice president and chief clinical officer. Instead, the PBM is 'really looking at those places where there is appropriate medical utilization, but where the opportunity exists to utilize generics as much as possible.'" (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via AISHealth.com)

The Debate Continues: Internal and External Validity and the RAND Health Insurance Experiment
Excerpt: "In a KPBS debate between James Knight and Don McCanne on consumer-directed health care and health savings accounts, Dr. Knight stated, '... the Rand Health Insurance Experiment ... shows that people who pay for their own health care services themselves ... will spend about 45 percent less on health care with no significant change in their health care status ....'" (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Few Uninsured Workers Opt for Employers' New Health Plans
Excerpt: "A year ago, a coalition of 60 of the country's largest employers -- including General Electric Co., Avon Products Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and Sears Holdings Corp. -- announced a novel plan to sell affordable health-care coverage to as many as three million of their part-time, temporary and contract workers who weren't eligible for the companies' existing health insurance plans." (Wall Street Journal via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Few Participating So Far in Employer Coalition to Give Health Insurance to Part-Time Workers
Excerpt: "Although a coalition of 60 large companies last year announced the National Health Access program -- a plan to offer affordable health coverage to their part-time workers, who generally are ineligible for employer-based health benefits -- only 10 of the companies are actually participating so far, the Wall Street Journal reports ...." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Kennedy Proposes Universal Coverage Through 'Medicare for All'
Excerpt: "More than a year after originally outlining his proposal for universal coverage, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) has introduced legislation that would expand Medicare to eventually extend health insurance coverage to every American. His 'Medicare for All Act' (S. 2229) would begin by phasing in expanded Medicare eligibility first for those 55–64 years old, and children up to the age of 20. The program would be available to all after 11 years." (HR Policy Association)

Blog: A Story About Non-Union Retiree Health Care
Excerpt: "Finally, even if there is a conflict between various plan documents, such that some documents have a reservation of rights clause, but other documents have a guarantee of lifetime benefits, the 6th Circuit has held in case involving GM and a different group of salaried employees (Sprague v. General Motors Corp., 133 F.3d 388 (1998)), that in essence the reservation of rights clause trumps any inconsistent lifetime benefit language: ...." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Blog: Retiree Health Care and Life After Collective Bargaining Agreement
Excerpt: "Finding no legally sufficient agreement to support retirees' claims of entitlement to life-time retiree benefits, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court ruling granting summary judgment for the employer, permitting the employer to unilaterally require retirees to pay a portion of premiums for future health care. [Barnett v. Ameren, CA7, 05-1496, 2/8/06]" (BeneBlog)

Benefits Go the Way of Pensions
Excerpt: "For those who were counting on G.M. to care for them for life, the company's recent moves to pare back, in different ways, the pension and health benefits of union and nonunion retirees amount to a breach of a promise that was at the core of the nation's labor relations for much of the post-World War II era: workers would give their productive years to the company; the company would care for workers when they got old." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Lessons from Watson Wyatt's 2005 HCI: HR Programs, Turnover Risk and Employee Productivity
Excerpt: "Eight years of research into Watson Wyatt's Human Capital Index® (HCI) has consistently found a strong correlation between effective HR program design and financial performance. Indeed, the link goes beyond correlation: Effective HR programs are a leading indicator of financial performance." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Rethinking Deferred Compensation for Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers
Excerpt: "The new section 409A rules -- along with more aggressive IRS enforcement -- will require tax-exempt and government sponsors of section 457(f) plans to review their existing deferred compensation plans and to consider new plan designs carefully. Existing plan designs that include 'rolling risks of forfeiture' or noncompete agreements may no longer pass muster in an IRS audit." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Judge Backs Employer for Benefits Forfeiture
Excerpt: "A federal judge in Illinois has rejected allegations that an employee was due significantly higher benefits after being promised them by one of the employer's executives." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of February 7, 2006
Excerpt: "Hewitt's Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans, retirement plans, and human resources and employment law." (Hewitt Associates)

Benefits Activity During 2005 Session Will Continue Into 2006
Excerpt: "Benefit issues will remain active during the 2006 legislative session. Retirement issues -- including funding reform and hybrid pension plans -- will remain in the spotlight, but health care and other issues may attract more attention, too." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Overview: USERRA Provides Reemployment Rights
Excerpt: "USERRA protects the rights of persons who voluntarily or involuntarily leave employment positions for duty in the uniformed services. The Final Regulations, which went into effect on January 18, 2006, provide employers with direction on their responsibilities relating to returning soldiers in practically every area of employment, including preserving seniority, hiring, promotion, health care, pensions, other benefits and notice requirements." (Infinisource, Inc.)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Advanced IRA Issues
in Maryland on March 8, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Florida on March 8, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in District of Columbia on March 10, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Florida on March 10, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

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

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

Advanced IRA Issues
in Tennessee on March 22, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Ohio on March 22, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Texas on March 22, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Pennsylvania on March 22, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Ohio on March 24, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in New Jersey on March 24, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Oklahoma on March 24, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Advanced IRA Issues
in Massachusetts on March 31, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

CT Chapter of NIPA Quarterly Educational Seminar; (Fiduciary Issues, Automatic Enrollment, Loans and M&A Issues)
in Connecticut on March 22, 2006
presented by National Institute of Pension Administrators-CT Chapter

IRA Essentials
in Florida on March 7, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Maryland on March 7, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in District of Columbia on March 9, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Florida on March 9, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

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

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

IRA Essentials
in Tennessee on March 21, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Ohio on March 21, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Texas on March 21, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Pennsylvania on March 21, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Ohio on March 23, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in New Jersey on March 23, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Oklahoma on March 23, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

IRA Essentials
in Massachusetts on March 30, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PBGC Premiums Rise With Enactment Of Budget Reconciliation Bill
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

Newport Offers Quicken(R) Download to Executive Benefit Plan Participants
(Newport Group, The)

President Bush Signs Bill Into Law Containing Long-Term Care Partnership Provision
(American Council of Life Insurers)

Labor Department Announces Web Page and Media Registration for 2006 SAVER Summit
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Associate Attorney
for Findley Davies, Inc.
in OH

Benefits Relationship Coordinator
for Agent Management
in AZ

Legal Administrative Assistant
for The Newport Group, Inc.
in FL

Administrator/Consultant
for Benefit Plans Plus, L.L.C.
in MO

Administrative Assistant
for Benefit Plans Plus, L.L.C.
in MO

Sr. Proposal Consultant
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Senior Employee Education Consultant
for PNC Financial Services
in PA

Benefits Specialist
for Professional Service Company
in FL

Benefits Director
for Professional Services Company
in FL




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