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March 3, 2006
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Amicus Brief of American Benefits Council, Others in AARP v. EEOC ADEA Case in Third Circuit (PDF)
44 pages. Excerpt: "The brief urges this Court to affirm the decision below, and thus supports the position of Appellee, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission." (American Benefits Council)

Act Now to Spend 2005 Health Dollars If You've Got a Grace Period
Excerpt: "A Treasury Department ruling in May said companies could give workers until March 15 to spend [flexible spending account] funds left over from the previous year. If you have a flex account with a balance from 2005, find out whether your employer adopted the grace period." (USA Today)

Salt Lake City's Domestic Partner Health Plan: Is It Legal?
Excerpt: "The Salt Lake City Council's health-insurance plan survived the mayor's veto and the Legislature. But it can't be offered-- yet. The Utah Public Employees Health Program, which administers the city's health insurance, will be seeking a judge's ruling on whether the council plan is legal-- although Salt Lake City says that isn't necessary." (Salt Lake Tribune)

Employers Might Save by Covering Co-Pays
Excerpt: "[A] study paid for by drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline found that one in five Ohioans don't take their medications as recommended, a problem that adds $700 million a year to health-care costs statewide." (Columbus Dispatch via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Bush Official Lauds California Health-Tech Plan
Excerpt: "President Bush's health-care information guru told a group attending a San Francisco 'summit' sponsored by the California Regional Health Information Organization that its efforts to build a statewide data exchange network are leading the nation." (San Francisco Business Times via; one-time registration required)

New York City Law Requiring Grocers to Subsidize Health Benefits Stands; Veto Overridden
Excerpt: "The bill, which Bloomberg vetoed last year ... would force large non-union grocery retailers doing business in New York City to subsidize their uninsured workers' health care costs, according to a New York Daily News report." (PLANSPONSOR magazine; one-time registration required)

Mercer Unveils New Web Site on Avian Flu Pandemic
Excerpt: "Welcome to the Mercer avian flu website, which was developed in response to growing client concerns regarding the avian flu outbreak and its potential to mutate into a human influenza pandemic. This site contains a range of resources which will assist organizations in defining the nature of the risk and acting decisively to protect the well-being of their employees in the event of a pandemic." (Mercer HR Consulting)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide, Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
19 pages. Description of pending legislation as of February 28, 2006. (Hewitt)

Massachusetts Senate-Passed Bill Would Require Purchase of Health Insurance by Individuals
Excerpt: "The possibility that Massachusetts could become the first state to mandate individuals to purchase health insurance remains in play. This week, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved a a universal coverage bill as a House and Senate conference on more expansive bills remains gridlocked." (HR Policy Association)

Opinion: A Necessary Conversation about Healthcare Costs
Excerpt: "At MemorialCare Medical Centers in Southern California, we are taking these issues to those who grapple with them every day--our local employers....Drug companies, medical device manufacturers, insurers and, yes, to some extent, even the healthcare provider, should accept responsibility for exacerbating the problem." (Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., for HealthLeaders News)

Request for Proposal - Modeling Long Term Medical Trends for Valuation
Due April 15, 2006. Excerpt: "[T]he prevalent practice has been to assume a first year trend at or near current levels (in the range of 9 to 12 percent) decreasing one or more percent per year to an ultimate underlying trend of approximately 5 percent. The rationale for this trend pattern assumption is that employers and society at large cannot indefinitely sustain medical cost increases of 9-12 percent per annum. This trend pattern assumption has consistently proven to be overly optimistic..." (Society of Actuaries)

'Consumer-Driven' Plans Not So Consumer-Friendly
Excerpt: "In a report based on the survey's findings, Early Experience with High-Deductible and Consumer-Driven Health Plans, analysts Paul Fronstin, Ph.D., of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Fund's Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., say that individuals covered by consumer-driven plans, with or without health savings accounts, are more likely than those with comprehensive insurance to avoid or delay needed care." (Commonwealth Fund)

Consumer-Directed Health Plans Might Not Work at Controlling Costs in Long Term
Excerpt: "A report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a not-for-profit research organization, compared the experience of people in consumer-directed plans with their peers in health plans that do not have high deductibles.... Their findings are based on the early experience of a small sample of executives and people in consumer-directed health care plans, leaving them open to the criticism that their analysis is questionable." (Managed Care magazine)

Interview with Andrew Young: In Defense of Wal-Mart
Andrew Young, the former mayor of Atlanta, Ga., and United Nations ambassador takes up a new diplomatic post: defending Wal-Mart from a recent wave of negative publicity. Young talks about his new role with the world's largest retailer. (National Public Radio)

Wal-Mart to Open More In-Store Health Clinics
Excerpt: "Run by third parties, the clinics are open to shoppers and employees, and are staffed by doctors who can treat non-emergency illnesses such as strep throat." (Reuters)

Many Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania on Medicaid
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart had the highest percentage of employees on Medicaid out of the state's 10 largest private-sector employers, according to data provided to The Philadelphia Inquirer by the state Department of Public Welfare." (AP via

Opinion: Seducing the Medical Profession
Excerpt: "New evidence keeps emerging that the medical profession has sold its soul in exchange for what can only be described as bribes from the manufacturers of drugs and medical devices." (New York Times via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: SEC Proposes New Disclosure and Other Rules for Executive Compensation (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "The SEC's proposed rules were released on January 27, 2006, but will not be effective until the SEC publishes an adopting release in the Federal Register. However, by all indications, this proposal is intended to move quickly and is expected to be in place for the 2007 proxy season." (Dechert)

SEC Provides Guidance on Definition of 'Perquisites' (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "In addition to the proposed new compensation disclosure structure, the SEC release also provided 'interpretive guidance' setting forth the SEC's interpretation of current rules on the disclosure of perquisites." (Powell Goldstein)

Overview: SEC Proposes New Proxy Disclosure Rules (PDF)
5 pages; includes six concrete 'Current Action Steps' to be taken. (Holme Roberts & Owen LLP)

Overview: New Executive Compensation Disclosure Rules Proposed (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has unveiled a far-reaching and highly detailed proposal to change the way companies disclose executive compensation in their proxy statements, with a specific requirement to provide the information in 'plain English.'" (Towers Perrin)

Feds May Soon Check All Workers' IDs
Excerpt: "Congress is headed toward approving a plan that would require employers to check every worker's Social Security number or immigration work permit against a new federal computer database." (USA Today)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Advanced Cafeteria Plans Conference
in Minnesota on June 28, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Health Savings Accounts: Design, Care, and Feeding-- What Employers, TPAs, and Advisors Need to Know and Do
Nationwide on March 23, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Remarks by Vice President Cheney at the 2006 Saver Summit
(White House)

Calhoun Law Group Offices Have Moved.
(Calhoun Law Group, P.C.)

Many Medicare Recipients Could Cover Premiums by Switching to Cost-Effective Drugs; Taxpayers Also Could Save
(Consumers Union)

Health Care Mandates Failing to Gain Traction With State Lawmakers Chamber Scorecard Shows Bills Falling Flat in Several States
(U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Group Account Executive- Mid/Large Market
for MetLife
in KY, OH

Temporary Retirement Services Specialist
for Administaff
in TX

Handy Links:

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