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March 2, 2006
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Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.

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

Tuition Assistance Programs Usage Low, So Employers Offer Employees Free Tuition and Bonuses
Excerpt: "UTC pays for an employee's entire tuition and books up front. The company also offers paid time off -- as much as three hours a week, depending on the course load -- to study. And after providing all that help with getting a degree, the company also offers a big reward at the end -- $5,000 in UTC stock for an associate's degree, and $10,000 for a bachelor's degree or above." (Society for Human Resource Management)

New Jersey Bill Calls for Naming Employers of Workers Covered by State Insurance Program
Excerpt: "Employers that have 50 or more employees or worker dependents enrolled in a New Jersey low-income health insurance program would be singled out annually under legislation that passed the New Jersey Senate earlier this week." (Business Insurance)

Outsourcing COBRA Administration Can Help Escape Pitfalls in the Complex Rules
Excerpt: "Although COBRA's purpose is straightforward, its administration can be complex and cumbersome. The legal requirements are so laden with details and deadlines that it's easy for an employer to unwittingly fall out of compliance. To avoid potentially costly mistakes, many companies outsource the task to experts, usually to a third-party administrator (TPA) of benefits programs." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Overview: Final HIPAA Enforcement Rule Published
Excerpt: "The Enforcement Rule maintains HHS's regulatory commitment to promoting and encouraging voluntary compliance with HIPAA; however, it seems likely that we will see some changes in the imposition of penalties for HIPAA violations." (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

HIPAA Security Rules Compliance Deadline Fast Approaching!
Excerpt: "The deadline for small group health plans to comply with the Security Rules is April 20, 2006. Large group health plans were required to comply with the rules by April 20, 2005." (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

9% of Hospital Charges Attributable to Pregnancy, Delivery, and Neonatal Care
Excerpt: "[A]ctive intervention in pregnancies is popular at health plans, where medical directors say they are striving to manage the costs of maternity care, one of their most-used benefits. Insurers across the country are shoring up education programs for mothers-to-be, looking for innovative ways to avoid preterm deliveries, examining data to discover where they can make a difference, and more." (Managed Care Magazine)

Health Plans Put Provider Prices Out for Their Enrollees to Inspect
Excerpt: "Cigna is shooting for actionable information, while Aetna likes the concept of patient empowerment and Humana hopes to provide one-stop shopping. But everyone rallies around the term price transparency to describe an onslaught of information being introduced to support consumer-directed health care plans. The wide range of information strategies, however, shows that, when it comes to so-called transparency, the right approach has not yet become clear." (Managed Care Magazine)

Intel Leader Says Funding Shortages Stifle Health IT
Excerpt: "At a meeting with reporters Feb. 27, Intel's head of health IT touted upcoming products, but said that he didn't see how the U.S. market would pay for them. What's at issue is not whether the technologies would improve care or bring down health care costs, but how insurers, patients, doctors, and employers would foot the bill for them." (Ziff Davis Internet via

Bill to Promote Electronic Health Records
Excerpt: "In an effort to dramatically expand the use of 'electronic health records,' a key House chairman said yesterday that he will propose legislation to promote their use in the federal employee health insurance program." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Transparency on Prices Required from All Health Care Sectors, Not Only Physicians, Letter States
Excerpt: "There should be no 'mystery about medical prices, but just calling on physicians to post their fees' is not the answer to reducing the cost of health care, William Plested, president-elect of the American Medical Association, writes in a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal (Plested, Wall Street Journal, 2/28)." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Health Plans Pursue New Partnerships with Chambers and Business Groups
Excerpt: "Health insurers increasingly are striking partnerships with chambers of commerce, manufacturers' associations and other business groups, through which customized health insurance products are offered to association members." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via

Blog: Sereboff Case -- Solicitor General Argues for Expanding Scope of Equitable Relief under ERISA
Excerpt: "[T]he United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Sereboff case to determine the appropriate scope of equitable relief available under Section 502(a)(3) of ERISA. At stake is a plan fiduciary's ability to seek reimbursement for medical expenses paid by a plan to a plan participant who has also recovered damages from a third-party tortfeasor." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Opinion: Why Pick on Wal-Mart?
Excerpt: "WAL-MART'S RECENT DECISION to offer health coverage to more of its 1.4 million U.S. employees is a little like getting a date with a favorite crush because she feels sorry for you. Sure, you're happy to have it, but you wish it had happened for a different reason." (Los Angeles Times via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Judge Approves Ford Retiree Health Pact
Excerpt: "Efforts by Ford Motor Co. to slash its retiree health-care expenses got a boost Wednesday when a federal judge gave tentative approval to Ford's health-care concessions deal with the United Auto Workers (UAW)." ( one-time registration required)

Consumer-Directed Care Could Be Catalyst for Better Cost and Quality Data
Excerpt: "Unlike President Bush's other proposals to expand health savings accounts (HSAs), his call to make health care cost and quality information more transparent to consumers won't take an act of Congress. Indeed, many health insurers and third-party players already are pushing the industry in that direction." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

Opinion: How to Get What We Want -- Better Health Care
Excerpt: "In recent years, the approach to major policy issues has been for wonks to design proposals and for politicians to stage confrontations over those proposals. Sometimes, such legislation stalls, as with the Clinton health plan and the Bush Social Security plan. At other times it passes, as with Bush's Medicare drug benefit. Either way, the result can be considered a failure." (San Francisco Chronicle via Cato Institute)

DOL Advisory Opinion on Acceptable Use of MEWA Assets Remaining in Terminated Plan Trust
Excerpt: "[DOL was asked w]hether the transfer of residual assets from a terminated MEWA that is also a plan to a VEBA that provides health and life insurance benefits to the employees of the entity that sponsored both the MEWA and the VEBA constitutes an improper inurement of plan assets for the benefit of an employer in violation of section 403, or a prohibited transaction under section 406." (U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

EEOC Sues Railroad for Age Bias in Buyout Plan
Excerpt: "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against BNSF Railway Co., alleging that older workers were excluded from a recent buyout plan." ( one-time registration required)

Employers and Employees Are not Prepared for Aging Workforce Issues
Excerpt: "The 2005/2006 MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study found that, while 34% of all employers (46% of employers with more than 25,000 employees) are concerned about the issues of an aging workforce, 79% have not taken steps to address their concerns." ( one-time registration required)

Overview: SEC Offers 2006 Proxy Season Guidance (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "This Client Memorandum highlights recent guidance from the Securities and Exchange Commission ('SEC') regarding the interpretation of the SEC's executive compensation disclosure rules as currently in effect. Public companies should heed this guidance in preparing their 2006 proxy statements." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

SEC Plan Could Blur Executive Compensation Reports
Excerpt: "To the confusion of shareholders, strange rises and dips in the reported compensation of companies' highest-paid executives could be among the results of the new Securities and Exchange Commission pay-disclosure proposals." (

Ford Accused of Benefits Interference
Excerpt: "A former Ford Motor Company engineer has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of trying to deprive him of pension and other benefits. The Detroit News reports that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of William Armstrong and five other Ford employees. They, along with thousands of other white-collar workers, lost their jobs in January as part of Ford's North American restructuring." ( one-time registration required)

Clarified USERRA Guides Handling of Military Service
Excerpt: "The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act governs the rights and benefits of employees who serve in the military and how they are treated by their employers when they return to their jobs. The Labor Department issued final rules clarifying the law that went into effect in January." (Employee Benefit News)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Annual Legal and Regulatory Update
in Ohio on March 16, 2006
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Cleveland Chapter

ERISA Litigation Forum: Worker Benefit Claims
in California on March 7, 2006
presented by Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP

Processing Benefits Claims and Appeals for Self-Funded Health Plans, Health FSAs, and HRAs: How to Make Plan Decisions That Stand Up to Scrutiny
Nationwide on June 30, 2005
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Disaster Relief Announcements
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

Seligman TargetHorizon ETF PortfoliosSM Added to CPI Retirement Platform
(CPI Qualified Plan Consultants, Inc.)

Fidelity Investments Issues Boomer Retirement Savings Statistics as National Retirement Summit Opens in Washington D.C. Today
(Fidelity Investments)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Health & Welfare Associate
for Towers Perrin
in CA, FL, GA, NC

Employee Benefits Tax Senior
for Deloitte Tax LLP
in OH

Communications Consultant
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

DC Product Manager
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Litigation Attorney
for Slevin & Hart, P.C.
in DC

for Slevin & Hart, P.C.
in DC

Integrated Benefits Project Manager
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

529 Regional Plan Coordinator, AVP
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Sales Force Training Specialist
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Retirement Paycheck Service - Product Specialist
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

AVP - Sales Analyst
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Defined Benefit Data Analyst
for Diversified Investment Advisors, Inc.
in MA

New Client Services Manager
in CA

Benefits Orientation Representative
for Administaff
in CA

Plan Implementation Specialist
for Midsouth Pension Consultants, LLC
in TN

Retirement Plan Conversion Consultant
for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
in OH

Int'l/U.S. Research Consultant
for Hewitt Associates
in IL

Pension Administrator Assistant
for Scott, Tellier & Co., Inc.
in AZ

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