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February 14, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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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)

U.S. Healthcare Industry HIPAA Compliance Survey Results: Winter 2006
Excerpt: "HIPAA's impact on the healthcare industry is evolving from 'compliance' to an emphasis on new, electronically-based opportunities for better communications across the continuum of care; and greater patient safety, cost-savings, and overall efficiency. As a result, the focus of our six years young series of national HIPAA Surveys has broadened to begin including reported actual and projected benefits of HIPAA implementation." (HIPAAdivisory.com)

AHRQ Web Site Tracks Health Information Technology Projects' Progress
Excerpt: "The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has launched a Web site that is part informational clearinghouse and part service-minded advice for healthcare organizations of all sizes that plan to implement, or perfect, their health information technology infrastructure. The Web site, www.healthit.ahrq.gov, links to a number of high-tech projects in various stages of completion and intends to showcase AHRQ's health IT initiatives, according to the agency." (Modern Healthcare; one-time registration required)

Georgia Bill Would Force Wal-Mart to Pay More for Employee Health Care
Excerpt: "Despite long odds, Democrats in the state Legislature are pushing a bill designed to force Wal-Mart to pay more for employee health care. The bill is patterned on one in Maryland." (AP via ledgerenquirer.com)

Health Plans for the Healthy and Penny-Pinching Employers
Excerpt: "Limited health benefits, or 'mini-medical' plans, charge as low as $20 a week for coverage of routine medical care but little hospitalization. They are a growing segment of the health insurance market, experts say, as businesses struggle to provide health care for their employees while keeping their budgets in check." (Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Safeway Urges Quick Action on Employee Health Benefits in State of Washington
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jennifer Holder said she hadn't seen the letter but called it disingenuous. She defended Wal-Mart's health benefits as competitive and pointed out that Safeway also had a large number of employees on state-subsidized health care. The reports showed that Safeway, with roughly the same number of employees in Washington state as Wal-Mart, had fewer than half as many workers on Medicaid or the state's Basic Health Plan." (Seattle Times via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Healthier Bodies Support a Firmer Bottom Line
Excerpt: "Wellness programs are becoming more elaborate as companies try to control benefit costs by building a healthier work force." (Business First of Columbus via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Colorado Lawmakers Consider Several Options in Defining Health Care Transparency
Excerpt: "[W]hen it comes to transparency in health care, people define it differently. It will be up to lawmakers this session to cut through special interests and promote a system that educates consumers and improves quality while protecting private business practices and reducing costs." (The Denver Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Overview of Administration's Latest Budget Proposal (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "The Administration did advance a number of benefits-related tax proposals, some of which we have seen in prior budget releases and some which support a primary goal of the Administration this year: containment of heath care costs and increased tax equality in the purchase of health insurance. The [target page discusses] some highlights of the employment and employee benefit-related tax provisions in the Administration's FY2007 budget." (Groom Law Group)

Retirees' Medical Benefits Were Vested for Life, Says Sixth Circuit
Excerpt: "A Sixth Circuit panel has upheld an earlier district court injunction that forced restoration of lifetime medical benefits for retirees on the grounds that, despite intervening corporate reorganizations, those health benefits were vested under the terms of their labor contract. (Yolton v. El Paso Tennessee Pipeline Co. (2006, CA6) 2006 WL 89152)" (Pension & Benefits Week via RIA News Briefings - Pension & Benefits)

Blog: State Contract Claim Not Preempted by ERISA
Excerpt: "Retirees' state lawsuit to enforce a contract requiring assumption of retiree health benefit obligations is not preempted by ERISA, according to an unpublished 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling affirming a district court decision. [Craddock v. Apogee Coal Co., CA4, 05-1352, 2/9/06 (unpublished)]" (BeneBlog)

Advocacy from The White House:Setting the Record Straight on the Benefits of Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "Mallaby Claims That HSAs Are For 'Rich People' And 'Healthy People.' 'The administration is proposing a new kind of 401(k), and using it as an inducement to quit low-deductible insurance. Rich people, who gain most from the tax breaks on saving, will be first to sign on; healthy people, who subsidize sicker people in company health plans, will be right behind them.' (Sebastian Mallaby, Op-Ed, 'Ownership Society Redux,' The Washington Post, 2/13/06)" (The White House)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: New GASB 43 & 45 Requirements: Governments' Credit Ratings & Borrowing Costs Are At Risk (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Government employers face critical and immediate challenges with respect to their OPEB liabilities. It is imperative that these employers address the pressing issues immediately and begin planning and implementing measures that will enable associated costs and liabilities to be properly managed and controlled." (Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP)

Blog: Follow Up to Civil Union Laws and ERISA Preemption
Excerpt: "[A previous post] concluded ... ERISA preemption would likely be the result in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Pilot Life v. Dedeaux, and the broad preemption found there with regard to state contract and tort laws impacting employee benefits. [J]eff Sherman (Chicago Kent) had written a law review article disagreeing with [that] conclusion. Jeff has now graciously agreed to summarize the gist of his law review article on domestic partnership laws and ERISA preemption." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Overview: SEC Proposes Overhaul of Executive Compensation Disclosure (PDF)
19 pages. Excerpt: "This Client Memorandum focuses on the proposed rules as they apply to domestic public companies that do not qualify for the SEC's small business reporting scheme. The proposed rules, however, would generally require less detailed disclosure by small business issuers." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

Brief: Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc., U.S. No. 05-260, cert. granted 11/28/05 (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "On November 28, 2005, the United States Supreme Court granted petitioners' request for review in Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc., U.S. No. 05-260. This case gives the Court an opportunity to resolve the circuit split on how to apply the Court's 2002 decision in Great-West Life & Annuity Inc. v. Knudson, 534 U.S. 204 (2002), and determine what types of remedies constitute 'equitable relief' available under ERISA ß 502(a)(3)." (Groom Law Group)

Overview: Department of Labor Releases Final USERRA Regulations (PDF)
Excerpt: "These regulations finalize the proposed regulations released on September 20, 2004, and the interim final rule governing notice requirements released on March 10, 2005. The final regulations became effective January 18, 2005." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser D'Amato & Associates, LLLC
Excerpt: "D'Amato & Associates, LLLC, is a boutique law firm concentrating in the area of benefits, particularly with respect to benefit plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ('ERISA'). We represent pension and welfare benefit plans, plan fiduciaries, and plan participants and beneficiaries with respect to benefit claims, fiduciary issues, and related matters." (BenefitsLink.com)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2006 Employee Benefits Conference
in New York on May 16, 2006
presented by New York State Society of C PAs

Who's a Dependent and Why Does It Matter? What Employers Need to Know for Medical Plans, Cafeteria Plans, and DCAPs
Nationwide on March 14, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

401kLoans Teams with Envisage to Deliver Loan Product Offering
(Metrics Partners)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Health & Welfare Associate
for Towers Perrin
in NC

Senior Actuarial Analyst
for Leading Full Service Retirement Financial Services Firm
in OH

Employee Benefits Products Manager
for CUNA Mutual Group
in WI

Senior Account Manager
for The 401(k) Company
in TX

Client Service Representative / Conversions Specialist
for Decimal, Inc.
in CA

Defined Contribution Business Analysts
for High Point Consulting & Staffing, LLC.
in ANY STATE

Communications Consultant
for Pitney Bowes
in CT, NJ, NY

Compliance Administrator
for BISYS Retirement Services
in PA




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

Published by:

BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.

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