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March 6, 2006
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GASB Staff Proposes Guidance on Government Employer Accounting for Medicare Part D Payments (PDF)
Excerpt: "[T]he law provides an incentive to employers to continue providing coverage -- a payment of as much as 28 percent of the cost of providing coverage to persons who would otherwise be eligible to enroll in Medicare Part D. This provision prompted questions from state and local governments about how to account for the federal payments, .... The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has authorized the GASB staff to issue a proposed Technical Bulletin to answer these questions." (Governmental Accounting Standards Board)

Choosing a New Health Plan Design? Differences among HRAs, HSAs and FSAs; Beyond the Basics (PDF)
39 page comparison chart. (Haynes and Boone, LLP and T. David Cowart via ALI-ABA Video Law Review)

Draft Health Practice Note 2006 -- Group Long-Term Disability Income Insurance, February 2006 (PDF)
Excerpt: "This practice note was prepared by a work group organized by the Health Practice Financial Reporting Committee of the American Academy of Actuaries. The work group was charged with developing and updating a description of some of the current practices used by health actuaries in the United States for determining actuarial reserves and liabilities for Group Long Term Disability Income business." (American Academy of Actuaries)

DOL Says Health Payments Must be Maintained for Workers on FMLA Leave
Excerpt: "Employers with a cafeteria-style benefits program must keep at a constant level the health care coverage of an employee taking leave time under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Department of Labor (DoL) has ruled." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Massachusetts Deal Would Charge Firms that Don't Insure Workers
Excerpt: "After a three-month stalemate, House and Senate leaders yesterday agreed to charge assessments on businesses that do not provide health insurance to their workers, clearing the way for the Legislature to enact a sweeping healthcare bill and make the state eligible for $385 million in federal Medicaid money." (The Boston Globe)

Sen. Barack Obama's Novel Proposal to Help Pay Automakers' Health Costs Could Break a Stalemate
Excerpt: "Trying to jump-start gains in auto fuel efficiency after decades of inaction, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is proposing an unusual swap for the Big Three U.S. carmakers: Washington would pay some of Detroit's multibillion-dollar health costs in exchange for it making cars that get higher gasoline mileage." (MiamiHerald.com)

Skipping Pres.criptions Costly, Study Says -- Employers Might Save by Covering Co-Pays
Excerpt: "The concept seems logical: Take medications as prescribed and lower your risk for surgeries, amputations and long hospital stays. But 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." (The Columbus Dispatch via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

If It Saves Them Money, Small-Business Owners Are Willing to Self-Insure Employee Health Plans
Excerpt: "Health insurance carriers and brokerage firms are targeting Maryland businesses with as few as five employees for self-funded health plans -- ones in which the business, not the insurance carrier, assumes the financial risk and pays claims. Typically, self-funded plans are more suited for big businesses that have a large number of employees over which to spread the risk." (Baltimore Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

State Health Care Mandate Legislation-- A Scorecard
Excerpt: "Union-backed legislation imposing health care mandates on large employers has failed in several states, according to a legislative scorecard released ... by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

State of California Has No Tax Break for Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "Thousands of Californians who signed up for health savings accounts in the last year could get an unpleasant surprise when they prepare their income taxes. The accounts allow Americans to set aside as much as $5,450 a year before federal taxes to cover out-of-pocket healthcare costs, and what they don't spend can accumulate as savings. The health accounts are also shielded from state income taxes in most of the country, but California is one of seven states that have declined ...." (Los Angeles Times; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Becoming an Employer of Choice: Strategies for Worker Recruitment and Retention (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "The demographics of the nation tell us we are getting more culturally diverse and increasingly 'older,' with a large segment of 'baby boomers' nearing retirement age. Already there are certain skill shortages emerging that will only be compounded as large numbers of skilled workers leave the labor force. It seems inevitable that employers will face a skills shortage in the near future." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

How Does the Size of the Millennial Generation Coming Into the Workforce Compare to Baby Boomers?
Excerpt: "'The Millennials are somewhat larger than people expected,' says William Strauss, co-author of the book Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. Baby Boomers, born between 1943 and 1960, averaged 3.8 million births a year in the United States, his co-author, Neil Howe, says. Millennials, born between 1982 and 2002, averaged 3.9 million births a year in this country, he adds." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Overview: Court Invalidates New York City Law Relating to Domestic Partner Benefits
Excerpt: "New York City's Equal Benefits Law (EBL), which requires companies with city contracts of $100,000 or more to offer the same benefits-- including pension and health benefits-- to employees' domestic partners and spouses, is preempted by ERISA, according to New York's highest court. Council of the City of New York v. Bloomberg, 2006 N.Y. LEXIS 149 (N.Y. Feb. 14, 2006). The Court of Appeals of New York also ruled the state's competitive bidding law preempts the EBL." (Deloitte's Washington Bulletin via BenefitsLink.com)

More Employers Are Extending Coverage to G.ay and Les.bian Workers' Partners
Excerpt: "[G]ay and les.bians still face hurdles, even when their employer offers same-sex benefits. For example, not all are comfortable disclosing their se.xual orientation to their employers, so they don't participate. Additionally, employers can lawfully have a two-tiered system in which they pay the health-insurance premium of a spouse, but not a domestic partner. There are also different tax consequences." (Daily Record)

Overview: Stock Valuation Guidance and Section 409A Technical Corrections (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The Internal Revenue Service (the 'Service') and Congress were busy in December. The Service issued additional guidance on section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the 'Code') and Congress enacted the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 ('GOZA'). Both impact deferred compensation arrangements under Code section 409A ('409A'). [Published January 4, 2006]" (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

SEC Pay Rules Might Limit Porkers' Weight Gains, According to Graef Crystal
Excerpt: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's proposed new rules for disclosing executive pay will ultimately give shareholders the tools they need to stop all those porkers from just getting fatter and fatter. But a few of the many proposed changes need some tweaking." (Bloomberg News)

Equity Awards Under 409A -- Deferred Compensation or Not (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "This Alert reviews the most recent IRS guidance, including Notice 2006-5, on the valuation of stock of private companies. It describes the current guidance on the application of Code Section 409A to equity awards and is intended to be a convenient and up-to-date summary of the Section 409A rules applicable to equity and equity-based companies." (Baker & McKenzie)

Overview: The Effects of the Final USERRA Regulations on Multiemployer Plans (PDF)
Pages 7-10 of 11 pages. Excerpt: "As proposed, the regulations would have required multiemployer plans to grant full credit for periods of military service as long as the service member returned to work in covered employment for any contributing employer rather than just the service member's last employer before entering military service." (Trucker Huss)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Final USERRA Guidance: Taking Care of Our Troops on the Home Front
Nationwide on March 9, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Seizing Opportunities and Sidestepping Pitfalls: Drafting Welfare Plan Documents
Nationwide on March 21, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Tax Reporting Supervisor - PA
for Vanguard
in PA

Pension Administrator
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Employee Benefits Account Manager
for Kibble & Prentice
in WA




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