BenefitsLink
Welfare Plans
Newsletter
To BenefitsLink home page Fill your job openings fast by advertising on BenefitsLink

March 21, 2006
Today's sponsor: Financial Research Associates, LLC

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Financial Research Associates, LLC

Medicare Operations: Streamlining Your MAPD and PDP Programs for Success

Learn how to better navigate the operations and compliance issues facing all Part D plans. Attendees will focus on:
  • Maintaining compliance with CMS
  • Financial reporting issues facing all PDPs
  • Getting beneficiaries into the plan system
  • Effectively managing a call center
  • Optimizing revenue recovery from Medicare
  • Meeting the goals and objectives of CMS
  • Coordination and communication with pharmacies
  • Working with your pharmacy benefit manager

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

Parental Leave Bill Advances in Colorado
Excerpt: "Lawmakers moved forward a watered-down parental leave bill Monday that would require all employers to have a policy allowing workers to attend children's school activities." (The Denver Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Blog: Great New Employee Benefit -- Medical Claims Assistance
Excerpt: "Anyone who has had to deal with all of the paperwork involved in a hospital visit can relate to the message of this article from [the March 20th] Wall Street Journal: 'Escape from Claims Hell.'" (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via BenefitsBlog.com)

Overview: Small Health Plans Must Comply with HIPAA Security Rules by April 20, 2006
Excerpt: "The HIPAA Security Rule applies to all electronic protected health information (ePHI) created, received, maintained or transmitted by a covered entity. Covered entities are required to implement reasonable and appropriate security measures to protect against reasonably anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of ePHI." (ERISAdiagnostics, Inc.)

Mental Health Parity Act Sunset Rule Extended Again
Excerpt: "The Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has announced a technical amendment extending the interim final rules under the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA)." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Congress Tackles Health Information Technology and Privacy Issues
Excerpt: "Privacy issues took center stage [March 16] during a congressional hearing on healthcare IT legislation that would create a uniform privacy standard to simplify the patchwork of state medical privacy protections. Among its provisions, the bill (H.R. 4157) calls for HHS to recommend a single federal privacy standard." (Healthcare IT News)

Hearing: Legislative Proposals to Promote Electronic Health Records and a Smarter Health Info System
The target page contains the witness list for the March 16 hearing with links to their prepared testimony. (House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health)

Congressional Testimony: Consumer Price Shopping in Health Care, March 15, 2006
Statement of Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., President, Center for Studying Health System Change, Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing on What's the Cost?: Proposals to Provide Consumers with Better Information About Healthcare Service Costs (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Testimony: Health Information Technology: HHS is Continuing Efforts to Define a National Strategy (PDF)
21 pages. Excerpt: "GAO (1) assessed the progress being made by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since 2005 to develop a national health IT strategy and (2) provided an overview of selected federal agencies' health IT initiatives related to the national health IT strategy." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Auto Company Retirees Divided over Health Care Cost Changes
Excerpt: "Retired autoworkers who spent decades together on assembly lines and picket lines find themselves facing off in a dispute over health benefits. Some support an effort by General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers to require retirees to pay several hundred dollars more each year for their health care, saying it's necessary to stem the automakers' staggering losses. But others say GM, Ford and the union are breaking their promises ...." (AP via Cincinnati Enquirer)

U.S. Health Insurers Should Encourage Policyholders to Seek Medical Care in Other Countries
Excerpt: "Aaditya Mattoo and Randeep Rathindran make that argument in an article published in the latest issue of Health Affairs, a health finance journal." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Health Care: The Need for a Sound and Effectively Executed Strategy in an Era of Consumerism
Excerpt: "The need for price-sensitivity among consumers of healthcare is unprecedented. With General Motors teetering on bankrup.tcy, attributing much of its dilemma to rising healthcare costs, and with increasing numbers of smaller firms dropping health coverage just to stay in business, consumerism must take hold." (HealthLeaders News)

State Profiles: Reforming the Health Care System, 2005 (PDF)
298 pages. Excerpt: "This 13th edition of the AARP Public Policy Institute data book is a compilation of data on many dimensions of health in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands." (AARP)

Hawaii Medical Association Opposes Permanent Insurance Rate Regulation
Excerpt: "Hawaii's legislature is considering making the insurance commissioner's regulatory oversight of health insurance rates permanent, and potentially tying approval of rate increase requests to insurers' reserve levels." (The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans via AISHealth.com)

Expansion of MD Health Care Act Introduced
Excerpt: "A bill to mandate employer spending on employee health care for companies of all sizes has been introduced in the Maryland legislature." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

CMS Proposes Requiring Part D Plan Sponsors to Report '100% of Remuneration'
Excerpt: "CMS proposes requiring Part D plan sponsors to report '100% of the remuneration' they receive, including rebates, discounts and other price concessions from pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), in order to help determine plans' 'gross covered pres.cription drug costs.'" (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Opinion -- The Enzi Bill: Bad Medicine for America (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee recently approved S. 1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act, sponsored by Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming. If this legislation becomes law, more than 85 million Americans will lose important consumer protections that now apply to their health insurance." (Families USA)

Limited-Benefits Health Plans Poised for Expansion, Greater Debate
Excerpt: "Supporters say the low-cost, bare-bones programs can help extend coverage to more workers, while critics worry that they will take the place of comprehensive health insurance." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Wall Street Journal Examines Availability, Ease of Health Information through New Search Engines
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday examined how searching for medical information on the Internet 'is starting to get easier' as a 'range of Internet companies ... are launching tailored search engines that aim to deliver patients and their families more relevant health-related content online.'" (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Blog: Retiree Health Benefit Rights Restricted to CBIA Term
Excerpt: "Finding no patent or latent ambiguity in collectively bargained insurance agreements (CBIA), the 7th Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that an employer was not obligated to extend retiree health benefits beyond the term of those agreements. [Cherry v. Auburn Gear, Inc.]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Hewitt Urges IRS to Ease HSA Comparability Rules at Hearing on Proposed Regulations (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "On February 23, 2006, Jeff Munn of Hewitt Associates recommended to the IRS that final regulations on employer comparable contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) provide greater flexibility to employers." (Hewitt Associates)

Overview: Department of Labor Sets New Deadline for FY 2005 LM-10 Reports
Excerpt: "The Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards (hereafter referred to as DOL) announced on March 7th that employers will have an additional 45 days to file their Form LM-10 for fiscal year 2005. At the same time, the DOL released additional guidance in a revised and expanded FAQ format." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Overview: Department of Labor Issues New LM-10 Guidelines (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ('LMRDA'), employers must annually report on an LM-10 form payments made to unions and their officials, subject to various exceptions, including a de minimis exception that excludes payments of $250 or less in a given year." (Dechert LLP)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Text of Notice 2006-33: Transition Relief for Deferred Comp Arrangements Under 409A(b) (PDF)
Excerpt: "Section 409A(b) generally applies to the use of offshore trusts in connection with amounts payable under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, and also the use of restrictions on assets to protect the payment of benefits under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan in connection with a change in the service recipient's financial health.... This notice addresses the application of certain technical corrections made ... in GOZA, (which was enacted on December 21, 2005) ..." (Internal Revenue Service)

Common Compensation Arrangement and Section 409A Trap
Excerpt: "An arrangement that offers a participant a choice among various forms of compensation must comply with the deferral election requirements of IRC 409A if one of the forms offered is deferred compensation subject to section 409A, even if the employee chooses a form that is otherwise exempt. In essence, the choice should be timed such that any choice of section 409A deferred compensation would be timely." (Deloitte's Washington Bulletin via BenefitsLink.com)

Welcome to BenefitsLink advertiser Findmissingpeople.com
Excerpt: "Have you lost contact with former employees who may be entitled to pension plan benefits? Are mailings to the contact addresses that you have on your records being returned to you as addressee unknown?Our service helps fund sponsors and administrators exercise due diligence and locate missing pension fund participants. If you need to locate fund participants, we can provide a fast, reliable and inexpensive service. And for simple searches, our policy is 'no find, no fee.'" (BenefitsLink.com)

Delta Seeks to Nix Employee Stock Options
Excerpt: "Delta Air Lines Inc., which is operating under bankrup.tcy protection, asked a judge Monday to allow the nation's third-largest carrier to void roughly 93 million stock options held by 70,000 current and former employees and directors." (AP via The Washington Post; one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Plans
in Ohio on May 23, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

401(k) Plans
in Georgia on June 6, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Administering Plans Under the Final 401(k) Regulations - Presented by Craig Hoffman
in Ohio on March 28, 2006
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of Greater Cincinnati

Cafeteria Plans
in Ohio on May 24, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Cafeteria Plans
in Georgia on June 7, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Ohio on May 26, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Georgia on June 9, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Ohio on May 25, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Georgia on June 8, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in Ohio on May 26, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in Georgia on June 9, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Ohio on May 25, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Georgia on June 8, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Rule 22c-2 and the Impact on TPAs, Trust Companies and RIAs Webcast
Nationwide on April 6, 2006
presented by McHenry Consulting Group


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

The Pension Channel hosted by Nick Paleveda MBA J.D. LL.M
(401(k) Link Association)

Mental Health Parity Act Extended to End of Year
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Employee Benefits Conversion Specialist II
for Union Bank of California
in CA

Defined Contribution Client Account Manager
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in MA

Back Office Operations Manager
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in MA

Retirement System Financial Manager
for City of Tacoma
in WA

Actuary
for Prestigious mid-Long Island New York Firm
in NY

Sales Vice President Insurance and Specialty Markets
for ING US Financial Services
in MI

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in MA

New Business Account Manager
for The Standard Insurance
in OR




Handy Links:

Copyright 2006 BenefitsLink.com, Inc.; except that you may reprint this newsletter in full (including this sentence) without obtaining our permission.

Published by:

BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
https://benefitslink.com/about.html
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park FL 32789
(407) 644-4146
Fax: (407) 644-2151

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

Housekeeping: