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February 23, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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Salt Lake City Lawmakers Squabble over Domestic Partner Benefits
Excerpt: "Salt Lake City lawmakers have decided to challenge an executive order issued by Mayor Rocky Anderson giving same-sex partners of city employees health benefits. .... While a majority of council members say they are interested in providing insurance benefits to domestic partners, they also want to include employees' other significant others, including siblings, parents or friends." ( one-time registration required)

Overview: Health Insurance for Employees on Military Leave
Excerpt: "Because of the war in Iraq, many clients have employees currently in or leaving for military service and need to know what the law requires. Final regulations for the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 ('USERRA'), effective January 18, 2006, address health care continuation issues that affect those who leave their jobs for uniformed service." (Warner Norcross & Judd LLP)

More Health Plans Use Bariatric Centers of Excellence to Manage Obesity
Excerpt: "Health plans increasingly are making bariatric centers of excellence a component of their disease management strategy for managing obesity, but are not requiring members to enroll in and complete formal DM weight-management programs prior to bariatric surgery." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

Pay-for-Performance: A Promising Start for Quality Health Care (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "'Pay-for-Performance' programs attempt to reward quality health care by setting different payment levels for providers based on whether how well they meet benchmarks of quality and efficiency. More than 100 pay-for-performance programs were up and running in the U.S. as of September 2005. This issues brief describe how the programs work, why they were established and what challenges need to be addressed going forward." (Alliance for Health Reform)

Consumer-Directed Health Plan Members Use More Services and Spend Less
Excerpt: "Both moderate and heavy utilizers of health care tend to have lower medical costs once they switch from a traditional managed care plan into an account-based consumer-directed health (CDH) plan, according to a study released Feb. 2 by CIGNA Corp." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

WebMD Wants to Go Beyond Information
Excerpt: "By helping people enrolled in employer health plans compile personal health information online, [Marty Wygod, the entrepreneurial deal maker who built WebMD Health] wants to tap into the growing corporate trend of having employees pay more, if not all, of their own health costs. With more of their own money at stake, the thinking goes, people need information to help make decisions about health care." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Blues Plans Reap Savings and Quality Improvements from Radiology Management
Excerpt: "Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans across the country report savings from radiology management programs designed to curb utilization of expensive radiology procedures and to boost quality of services. The strategies include more restrictive precertification, provider profiling and credentialing requirements, and are intended to reduce inappropriate utilization of the highest-cost technologies like MRIs and CT scans." (The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans via

Blog: Health Care or a House?
Excerpt: "Interesting point from this Wall Street Journal op-ed: 'Health Care or a House?' Excerpt: Imagine walking into a job interview and your potential employer tells you that the best thing about working there is that the company will buy you a house. While it sounds preposterous, it just might be cheaper than providing you with health insurance." (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via

Overview: Employers Must Send Pres.cription Drug Information to CMS by March 31
Excerpt: "Employers who sponsor group health plans that cover any pres.cription drugs must tell the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) by March 31, 2006, whether their drug coverage is creditable or noncreditable." (Warner Norcross & Judd LLP)

Drug Prices Rise under U.S. Medicare Plan
Excerpt: "Prices for some of the most popular medicines used by seniors have jumped an average of 4 percent under the new Medicare drug benefit since it began last month, according to a report released [February 21]. The report, released by the Democratic staff of the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee, ...." (Reuters via Medscape)

Evidence-Based Medicine Brings Science and Savings to Rx Management
Excerpt: "EBM for drugs centers on a 'defined science' of where and when medicines work 'based on a systematic review of the literature and a regimented look at all the clinical trials,' ...." (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via

Report Counsels Banks and Insurers to Jump on CDH Wave
Excerpt: "A new report from consulting and technology provider BearingPoint extols the multitude of opportunities for banks, life insurers and property and casualty carriers in the second wave of consumer-driven health." (The Advisor)

Blog: A Coming Compromise on Health Savings Accounts and Minimum Wage?
Excerpt: "HSAs and minimum wage increases seem like odd bedfellows. On the one had, consumer-driven, tax-advantaged health savings account (HSA) are being lauded by the Bush Administration as an efficient way to deliver health care services to employees without breaking the bank. Critics of HSAs see them as too expensive for rank-and-file workers who must meet a higher deductible before the benefits of the new scheme really kick in." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Californians with Health Savings Accounts Pay the California HSA Tax Penalty
Excerpt: "In 53 days, Californians who have set aside for money for health care in Health Savings Accounts (HSA) will have to pay a penalty. California, along with five other states, still has not conformed to the popular federal program." (American Chronicle)

Blog: Two Disability Benefit Denials Affirmed
Excerpt: "The 7th and 8th Circuits have affirmed district court decisions on disability benefit denials under the abuse of discretion standard. In Groves, the 8th Circuit found it reasonable for the insurer to reject the opinion of the individual's treating physician. In Rud, the 7th Circuit rejected the individual's contention that the insurer's denial of benefits had been adversely influenced by conflict of interest." (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

New Web Site: Alliance for an Experienced Workforce
Excerpt: "The Alliance was developed from a National Advisory Council formed to provide input to AARP on their workplace and workforce strategies. The members of the Alliance are committed to collaborating on strategies and to raising the visibility of the importance of workers 50+." (AARP)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Plan Workshop
Nationwide on April 21, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

An Introduction to Health Savings Accounts
Nationwide on March 23, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

An Introduction to Health Savings Accounts
Nationwide on April 19, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Best in Class Benefits: SouthWest Benefits Associationís 31st Annual Conference
in Texas on May 3, 2006
presented by SouthWest Benefits Association

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (CESAs)
Nationwide on April 6, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Excess Contributions in Individual Retirement Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Accounts
Nationwide on April 4, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Form 5500 Workshop
Nationwide on April 20, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

IRA Transfers, Rollovers, and Direct Rollovers
Nationwide on April 26, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

SouthWest Benefits Association Recognizes Retirement and Health Benefits Best Practices
(SouthWest Benefits Association)

Educational Resource Provides Valuable Information for Multiemployer Plans
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Pension Administrator
for Long Island Employee Benefits Group, Ltd.
in NY

Sr. Benefits Analyst
for Symantec Corporation
in CA

Accounting & Reporting Specialist
for Reliance Trust Company
in GA

Fund Accounting & Asset Unitization Manager
for Reliance Trust Company
in GA

Testing & Reporting Consultant
for Fidelity Investments
in MA

401(k) / Defined Contribution Administrator
for Pension Investors Corporation
in FL

ERISA Paralegal and/or Attorney
for National Retirement Services, Inc.
in NC

Defined Contribution Conversion Specialist
for IPA Northeast, LLC
in NJ

Enrollment Technology Specialist
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

Internal Auditor
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Compensation Consultant
for American Family Insurance
in WI

Employee Benefits Paralegal
for Wiggin and Dana, LLP
in CT

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