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March 7, 2006
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Present Law and Analysis Relating to the Tax Treatment of Health Care Expenses, March 6, 2006 (PDF)
24 pages. Excerpt: "The Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a public hearing on March 8, 2006, on the taxation of health care coverage and related issues. This document, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, provides a description of the individual income tax provisions relating to the taxation of health care expenses, discusses issues raised under present law, and provides a general analysis of possible proposals to modify present law." (Joint Committee on Taxation)

General Motors Retirees Protest Health Care Cost Increase
Excerpt: "General Motors Corp. retirees asked a federal judge Monday to reject a settlement that would require them to pay more for their health care, saying it violates their contracts. But GM and the United Auto Workers said the agreement is critical to the struggling automaker's future." (AP via The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

DOL Advises that Flex Credits for Group Health Plans Must Be Continued during FMLA Leave
Excerpt: "Employers who are using flex credits for their group health plans will find this guidance helpful-- it's the first we've seen that directly addresses the proper handling of flex credits when a cafeteria plan participant goes on FMLA leave." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Blog: Settlement Agreement Based on ERISA Plan
Excerpt: "Long-term disability benefits under a confidential settlement agreement between an employee and employer are governed by ERISA, since the settlement agreement expressly provided that the benefits would be controlled by the ERISA plan in which the employee had originally participated." (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

DOL Addresses Application of FMLA to Multiemployer Plan in Opinion Letter
Excerpt: "FMLA regulations require an employer to continue contributing to a multiemployer health plan on behalf of an employee on FMLA leave 'unless the plan contains an explicit FMLA provision for maintaining coverage such as through pooled contributions by all employers party to the plan.' The multiemployer plan requesting this advisory opinion sought guidance on whether its 'disability extension of coverage' benefit fell within this regulatory exception excusing employer contributions." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Arkansas Set to Undertake a Novel Effort in Health Care Insurance
Excerpt: "The employer-based program is novel in two ways. The benefit package is extremely limited, much more austere than Medicaid's. In addition, if an employer wants to participate, it must guarantee that all its employees, regardless of income or other factors, will be covered." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Late Election Notice Did Not Extend 18-Month COBRA Period
Excerpt: "This case illustrates several important things. First, terminating benefit coverage can be more difficult than denying coverage in the first place, because the claimant may seek injunctive relief. (The flip side of the coin is the significant difficulty faced by individuals in obtaining such relief, as demonstrated by this case.) The case also illustrates the hazards of late COBRA election notices." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Commentary on Book Review: The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It
Excerpt: "Do not be deterred by the fact that this is a book review, actually a review of three books. It is a stand-alone article on our health care crisis, not constrained by the subject matter of the books reviewed." (The New York Review of Books via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Broken Contract Talks Not New for Blue Cross
Excerpt: "State records show that Blue Cross of California has been involved in broken contract negotiations -- talks that ended in failure to renew services for its customers -- at seven San Diego County hospitals in the last four years, including the most recent termination at Oceanside's Tri-City Medical Center." (North County Times (San Diego, CA) via The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights)

Frustration with Health Care Quality Is Widespread
Excerpt: "HR professionals and providers collectively voice widespread dissatisfaction with health care quality but favor different solutions, according to a recent survey by EBN and State of Our Health." (Employee Benefit News)

AK Retirees Eye Talks Warily -- Possible Proposed Health Cost Increases Concern Retirees
Excerpt: "In May 2004, the company said a 'typical' AK hourly retiree, leaving the mill at age 57, would see a monthly pension benefit of $2,040, with a possible supplement of $300 and company-paid health care benefits of $1,080 per month. That adds up to a total monthly benefit of $3,420, according to numbers the company provides." (Cox News Service via JournalNews)

Health Plans Work to Move Revenue In-House from Stop-Loss Reinsurance
Excerpt: "As health insurers increasingly target self-insured customers, some are bringing new focus to a related business line: selling stop-loss reinsurance to these companies. Many managed care organizations (MCOs) historically have left that business to third-party carriers." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via AISHealth.com)

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Self-Funding a Health Plan
Excerpt: "Should your company self-insure its health plan? The answer lies largely in your plan size, but there are plenty of other significant pros and cons to weigh, experts say." (Employee Benefit News)

Overview: New Medicare Secondary Payer Rules Regarding Primary Liability of Employers and Insurers
Excerpt: "Most of these changes simply conform to the MMA amendments that were enacted in 2003 -- like the statute, they are intended to make Medicare a secondary payer to the maximum extent possible. The changes are a wake-up call, however, for group health plans to confirm that they comply with the MSP rules." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Working Paper Abstract: Insurance and Incentives for Medical Innovation
Excerpt: "This paper studies the interactions between health insurance and the incentives for innovation. Although [the authors] focus on pharma.ceutical innovation, [their] discussion applies to other industries producing novel technologies for sale in markets with subsidized demand." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Additions to Part D's Draft Formulary Guidelines Has Some Health Plans Reeling
Excerpt: "A 'grandfather' provision in CMS's new Medicare Part D '2007 Draft Guidelines -- Formularies' has some plans reeling, but may in actuality be a mis-wording by the agency, suggests a former CMS drug benefit director." (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Consumer - Driven Crossroads: Employers Grapple with the Best Consumer-Driven Path to Take
Excerpt: "Employers continue to navigate through the choices consumer-driven health care brings them. It's important to see how these options impact plan design and cost containment and to evaluate how consumer-driven health plans fare in enrollment and what changes vendors plan to make to them." (Employee Benefit News)

Five Questions for Ted Nussbaum about Consumer-Oriented Health Care Plans
Excerpt: "Ted Nussbaum, Watson Wyatt's director of group and health care consulting service in North America, advocates consumer-driven health care to help contain costs." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Health Coverage Mandates Raise New Issue in Debate
Excerpt: "There is undeniable irony here: A call for government help with health coverage -- a veritable campaign for 'socialized medicine,' some might say -- coming from a champion of capitalism, Wal-Mart." (California HealthCare Foundation)

Commentary: The Uninsured Patient
Excerpt: "Despite recent attempts by federal programs to increase access to medical care for uninsured persons, the number of Americans without insurance has increased since 1994 by an average of one million per year, and 2.4 million in 2002." (The American Journal of Medicine via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Tax Disadvantages of HSAs in Wisconsin (PDF)
At pp. 1-2 of 6-page document. (DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C.)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Section 409A Compliance: Equity Compensation
Excerpt: "The Treasury Department and IRS are currently working on finalizing regulations under Section 409A. They have received a significant number of public comments on the proposed regulations, including many requests to reconsider some of the proposed rules on stock options and other forms of equity compensation. However, it is not clear how the Treasury Department and IRS will respond or when they might issue final regulations or other definitive guidance." (Poyner & Spruill LLP)

Blog: Milofsky Cleared for Take-Off
Excerpt: "The Fifth Circuit as a whole has revived the Milofsky lawsuit. As previously reported here in For Your Benefit, American Airline pilots claimed that they lost money because plan fiduciaries botched the transfer of certain plan assets." (Michael H. Rosenthal via for your benefit)

Fifth Circuit Sends Milofsky Case Back to District Court
Excerpt: "The Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc on an appeal from a three-judge panel, issued a decision per curiam March 2, vacating a district court's dismissal of a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under section 502(a)(2) of ERISA." (The ERISA Industry Committee)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Plans
in Washington on March 28, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

401(k) Plans
in California on April 11, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

401(k) Plans
in Minnesota on April 18, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Cafeteria Plans
in Washington on March 29, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Cafeteria Plans
in California on April 12, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Cafeteria Plans
in Minnesota on April 19, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Washington on March 31, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in California on April 14, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Minnesota on April 21, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Washington on March 30, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in California on April 13, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Minnesota on April 20, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

GASB #45 Webcast: Pitfalls and Solutions
Nationwide on March 29, 2006
presented by Aon Consulting

GASB #45 Webcast: The Basics
Nationwide on March 28, 2006
presented by Aon Consulting

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in Washington on March 31, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in California on April 14, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in Minnesota on April 21, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Washington on March 30, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in California on April 13, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Minnesota on April 20, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Pension Reform Legislation (Tax Series)
in District of Columbia on March 7, 2006
presented by District of Columbia Bar

Web/Telephone Seminar: Advanced HSAs
Nationwide on April 20, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Basic IRAs
Nationwide on April 6, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Introduction to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Nationwide on April 11, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

CPI Announces New Director of Broker Dealer Relationships
(CPI Qualified Plan Consultants, Inc.)

Harris, Rothenberg International LLC Honored With iNOVA Awards for Exceptional EAP-Work/Life Website
(Harris, Rothenberg International (HRI))

Fidelity Estimates $200,000 Now Needed to Cover Retiree Health Care Costs; Five Percent Increase over 2005 Estimate of $190,000
(Fidelity Investments)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Retirement Plan Coordinator
for American Funds
in VA

401(k) Administrators
for Pension Development Corporation, Ltd.
in NY

Defined Contribution Plans Administrator
for Benefit Associates Inc.
in CA

DB Analyst Open House Wednesday, March 8th 4pm-7pm
for Mercer HR Services
in MA

Health & Benefits Team Leader-Job Fair Wednesday, March 8th 4pm-7pm
for Mercer HR Services
in MA

Health & Benefits Analyst Please join us at our Job Fair Wednesday, March 8th 4pm-7pm
for Mercer HR Services
in MA

Global Wealth & Investment Management (GWIM) -- ERISA Attorney
for Bank of America
in MA

Pension Administrator
for FBD Consulting, Inc.
in KS

Defined Contribution Software Customer Support
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL

Defined Benefit Software Customer Support
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL

Trust Administrator - Employee Benefits
for Old Point Trust and Financial Services
in VA

Pension Administrator
for Moran & Associates, Inc.
in WA

ARS Business Analyst
for Alerus Retirement Solutions
in MN




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