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March 13, 2006
Today's sponsor: DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.

Software for Benefit and Retirement Plan Administration

For over 39 years, DATAIR has provided pension and employee benefit software to consultants and administrators. We focus on our clients' needs for reliable and economical solutions and comprehensive support.

DATAIR offers systems for Defined Contribution, Defined Benefit and Sec. 125/Cafeteria Plans. Our modules handle administration, proposals, discrimination testing, document generation and government reporting. Additional programs help manage client relationships, organize and track office tasks and responsibilities, and calculate the tax consequences of plan distributions.

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

Overview: Medicare Part D Disclosure Notices Plus a New 'Personalized' Disclosure Notice
Excerpt: "While the personalized notice comes as a bit of a surprise, it seems to fill an important role regarding proof of coverage. Employers are likely to get lots of requests for copies of generic notices as well as personalized notices-we have heard that many Part D eligible individuals, overwhelmed by information, have been throwing their generic notices away." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Group Health Plan 'To Do' List for March and April 2006 (PDF)
Excerpt: "Employers that sponsor group health plans must act to meet three upcoming compliance deadlines." (Dorsey & Whitney LLP)

Treasury Voices Support for LTC Annuity Rider
Excerpt: "The Treasury Department has expressed support for allowing a long term care rider to be added to annuities." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

FMLA 75-Mile Eligibility Measured by Road
Excerpt: "Employers are cautioned that FMLA has technical requirements as to which employees are eligible for leave. Therefore, employers should exercise care in applying FMLA policy." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Pregnancy Discrimination Act Not to Be Applied for Service Retroactively
Excerpt: "The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that women who took pregnancy leave prior to the effective date of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cannot receive service credit for their maternity leave time." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Overview: HHS Reminds Sponsors of Upcoming Privacy Notice Deadline
Excerpt: "The HIPAA privacy rule requires health plans to remind individuals-at least once every three years-that a Notice of Privacy Practices is available." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

ERISA Does Not Prohibit Transfer of Assets from Terminated MEWA to VEBA of Sucessor Organization
Excerpt: "The lesson is that every welfare plan with plan assets (including participant contributions) should carefully consider the termination provisions contained in its plan document." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Robustness of a Computer-Assisted Diabetes Self-Management Intervention
Excerpt: "Conclusions: Patients and physicians were willing to participate in a computer-assisted dietary and physical activity goal-setting intervention, although participation varied by healthcare setting. Interventionists from different backgrounds successfully delivered the intervention, and the results appear robust across various patient and delivery characteristics." (The American Journal of Managed Care)

Rising Out-of-Pocket Costs in Disease Management Programs
Excerpt: "Conclusions: Cost sharing and disease management result in conflicting approaches to benefit design. Increasing copayments may lead to underuse of recommended services, thereby decreasing the clinical effectiveness and increasing the overall costs of disease management programs." (The American Journal of Managed Care)

UnitedHealth Group Program Will Deduct Medical Payments from Patients' Paychecks
Excerpt: "UnitedHealth Group in April will launch a pilot program that will deduct medical payments from patients' paychecks, plus interest, if medical bills are not paid in full within 20 days, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Massachusetts Survey Allows Consumers to Rate Doctors Based on Experiences
Excerpt: "Most Massachusetts patients would 'definitely' recommend their doctors and their children's pediatricians to others, according to a survey released on Thursday by Massachusetts Health Quality Partners, but responses indicate 'significant variation in how patients say they're treated when they visit or call their primary-care doctor,' the Boston Globe reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Financial Experts Question Fidelity Estimate of Savings for Retirees' Health Expenses
Excerpt: "An annual estimate released last week by Fidelity Investments that 65-year-old couples who retire without employer-sponsored health insurance will require an average of $200,000 to cover out-of-pocket health care costs during retirement is inadequate, according to many financial experts and other observers, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Editorial: Legislation Targets Wal-Mart Over Health Insurance Benefits
Excerpt: "In Alaska, Anchorage Rep. Eric Croft has introduced legislation that would require companies with more than 2,000 employees to pay at least 10 percent of their payroll toward employee health benefits. If companies fall short of that threshold, the balance must go to the state to help finance medical care for the uninsured." (Anchorage Daily News)

Pooling Options: Variety, Not Savings, Is Main Benefit of Health Insurance Pools
Excerpt: "Purchasing pools may not give small businesses a break on price - despite policy makers' best wishes - but pooling alliances are increasingly peddling products that may offer small firms more competitive health plan packages for their workers." (East Bay Business Times via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Court Allows Retaliation Charge of Health Plan Participant
Excerpt: "The US District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee has allowed a health plan participant to proceed with his claim that he was retaliated against by being fired for the increasing costs of his health insurance premiums." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Connecticut Debates Health Coverage Tax
Excerpt: "Legislative fervor sweeping many parts of the country over the extent to which large companies are shirking their duties to provide sufficient employee health care has reached the Connecticut state capital in Hartford." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Blue Cross of North Carolina Suspends Co-Payments on Generic Drugs
Excerpt: "Consumers rarely get good news when it comes to health-care costs these days. But on Feb. 1, the 3.3 million members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina -- including 130,000 in the Charlotte area -- are eligible to enjoy collective savings on pharmacy charges." (Charlotte Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

A Cancer Drug's Big Price Rise Is Cause for Concern
Excerpt: "The increase has stunned doctors, who say it starkly illustrates two trends in the pharma.ceutical industry: the soaring price of cancer medicines and the tendency for those prices to have little relation to the cost of developing or making the drugs." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

President Bush Reiterates Support for Association Health Plan Legislation
Excerpt: "President Bush on Friday reiterated his support for legislation that would allow small businesses to form association health plans, CQ Today reports. In a speech before the National Newspaper Association, Bush said that he hopes the Senate will pass such legislation this year." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Feds Propose Health Plan Disaster Rule for Federal Employees
Excerpt: "The government is trying to protect members of its benefits program against future Katrina-like catastrophes. " (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

HSA Expansion, Health Insurance Tax Reform Form The Centerpiece Of Bush Agenda
Excerpt: "Health savings accounts (HSAs), part of the centerpiece of the President George W. Bush's health care agenda for 2006, will 'start chipping away at the inequities in the system,' stated Roy Ramthun, special assistant to the President for economic policy, at the Self-Insurance Institute of America's 20th Annual Legislative and Regulatory Conference in Washington, D.C." (Spencer's Benefits Reports)

Early Reaction to Health Savings Accounts Is Two-Sided
Excerpt: "Two years after they became legal, President Bush has begun to champion health savings accounts as a salve for the nation's ailing health care system, proposing $156 billion in tax breaks to encourage Americans to buy an unorthodox kind of insurance that is favored by conservatives but whose merits are largely unproven." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Comments: Phase 1 Project to Reconsider Pension & Other Postemployment Benefit Accounting Standards (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "[The target page is the letter sent to the Financial Accounting Standards Board with] comments regarding recent tentative decisions reached by the Board to use the projected benefit obligation (PBO) under SFAS 87 in measuring balance sheet pension liability." (College of Pension Actuaries)

Employment-Based Benefits for G.ay Partners Targeted
Excerpt: "The debate over partnership benefits, playing out in a handful of states, marks a second front in the battle over g.ay marriage. States first confronted the issue of defining marriage to exclude g.ay couples, but now courts and legislatures are wrestling with whether to go further and bar spousal benefits for g.ay workers." (Stateline.org)

Overview of the IRS Release of First Periodic Update of the 2005-2006 Priority Guidance Plan
Excerpt: "The Department of the Treasury and the IRS have updated their 2005-2006 Priority Guidance Plan, which was initially released in August 2005 .... The updated 2005-2006 Priority Guidance Plan lists various regulations and other guidance that is still under development and indicates the items on the original plan that have been published." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Equity Compensation Continues Shift Towards Restricted and Performance-Based Stock
Excerpt: "Results from last month's Culpepper Pay Trends Survey confirm a further shift in equity compensation from stock option-based plans toward restricted stock plans. Prior to expensing requirements, 68 percent of companies offered non-qualified stock options and 53 percent offered qualified options as part of their equity compensation plans ...." (Culpepper and Associates, Inc.)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Seminar on Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Compliance Program
in Tennessee on April 26, 2006
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Meet the COBRApoint Team at the ECFC Annual Conference
(COBRApoint)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Administration position in San Diego
for Means & Associates, LLC
in CA

Actuarial Associate
for Stephen H. Rosen & Associates, Inc.
in NJ

Retirement Plan Coordinator
for American Funds, a part of The Capital Group Companies, Inc
in TX

Processing Specialist, Non-Qualified Retirement Plans
for The Newport Group
in NC

Fund Manager
for Taft-Hartley Fund
in IL

Balance Forward Administrator
for Benefits Plan Administrator
in NY

Senior Client Administrator
for EPIC Advisors, Inc
in NY

Sales Consultant
for EPIC Advisors, Inc
in NY




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