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March 22, 2006
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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)

'Son of Wal-Mart' Bill Dies in Maryland House Committee
Excerpt: "A House of Delegates committee has killed a proposal that would have required more companies to fall under a controversial health benefits law. As passed, the Fair Share Health Care Act affects only Wal-Mart, requiring the world's largest retailer to spend more on insurance coverage for its Maryland employees." (

CQ HealthBeat Examines Bush Administration Plan to Improve Price Transparency
Excerpt: "CQ HealthBeat [last] Friday examined the Bush administration's plan to disclose price and quality data from health care providers. According to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, government analysts will examine claims data from Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Defense and Federal Employee Health Benefits programs so that 'price and quality data will be available for each hospital and doctor.'" (Medical News Today)

Lifting the Lid Off of Health Care Pricing
Excerpt: "With HHS moving to post what it pays for common procedures, the debate over healthcare pricing transparency is heating up" (ModernHealthcare; one-time registration required)

Medicare Part D Employer Subsidy Checklist
Excerpt: "Here [CCA Strategies provides] a checklist (along with relevant links to the CMS site) to assist employers opting to file for the Medicare Part D subsidy." (CCA Strategies, LLC)

Blog: Standard of Review If Conflicting Plans Presented to the Court
Excerpt: "Relying on the disability plan document filed in an affidavit containing a 'complete and accurate copy of the claim file' instead of a different, unauthenticated plan document submitted in an attachment to the insurer's legal brief, a divided 8th Circuit has ruled that termination of disability benefits should have been reviewed under a de novo standard. [Barham v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, No. 05-2485]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

When Must Pregnant Employee Notify Company of Planning to Take FMLA Leave After Birth of Child?
Excerpt: "As with foreseeable medical leave, an employee who plans to take FMLA leave after the birth of a child must provide the employer with at least 30 days' advance notice." (

Funding Can Dramatically Reduce Public Sector's OPEB Liabilities (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "As illustrated in this article about the GASB requirements for public sector employers to account for 'other post-employment benefits,' funding can dramatically reduce the liabilities that have traditionally been provided for these benefits on a 'pay-as-you-go' basis." (Aon Consulting)

Employees Can Be Savvy Health Care Consumers (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "Read about how your employees, by adopting some essential habits that are common to all savvy health care consumers, can join you in the campaign against skyrocketing health care costs." (Aon Consulting)

Online Doctors' Appointments Called webVisits at University of Michigan and eVisits at Henry Ford
Excerpt: "So far, most insurers do not cover Web visits, so patients would have to pay for online consultations on their own. But Web visits could save busy patients from having to choose between not seeking care and missing work to seek care." (USA TODAY)

CMS Updates Timetable for the RDS Interim Payment Process
Excerpt: "Plan sponsors should check the RDS Program Web site for additional information about this early payment request as it becomes available. Here is the direct link to the most recent update on the RDS Program interim payment process:" (Towers Perrin)

Legislative Summary of S. 1955: The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "Title I: Small Business Health Plans (SBHPs) Fully insured SBHPs only would be allowed; self-insure plans would not be permitted. Associations would be allowed to pool independently with their members. One comprehensive benefit option must be offered (modeled after one of the five largest state employee health benefit plans - CA, NY, IL, TX, FL.) Any other benefit option can be created to fit the needs of the association's members. SBHPs will have flexibly to offer ...." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Group Purchasing Organizations' Hearing Inconclusive
Excerpt: "The fourth Senate Judiciary Committee antitrust subcommittee hearing investigating the business practices of group purchasing organizations still isn't likely to result in legislation that beefs up regulation, but the hearing hasn't ended the speculation that Congress eventually will act, either." (ModernHealthcare; one-time registration required)

Information on Status of the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization & Affordability Act of 2005
Excerpt: "A bill to amend title I of the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 and the Public Health Service Act to expand health care access and reduce costs through the creation of small business health plans and through modernization of the health insurance marketplace." (The Library of Congress)

Health Care Options for Lower-Wage Workers
Excerpt: "While there are a variety of ways to tailor a basic health care option to meet the needs of your organization, an affordable plan includes these key attributes: comprehensive coverage of primary care visits and generic drugs; incentives to use lower-cost treatments ....; higher cost sharing on services used by a small number of plan members, ....; and, an engagement strategy to explain to participants who might 'overinsure' how to maximize their health care dollars." (Towers Perrin)

Policy Analysis -- Health Savings Accounts: Answering the Critics, Part I
Excerpt: "Critics of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have a litany of complaints. They are essentially the same complaints critics made a decade ago, at the dawn of the consumer-driven health care revolution. We now have evidence that consumer-driven health care works." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Policy Analysis -- Health Savings Accounts: Answering the Critics, Part II
Excerpt: "Consumer-driven health care (CDHC) allows patients to manage some of the dollars they spend on health care. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a mechanism for them to do so. HSAs are personal health accounts individuals own and control. Critics of HSAs have a litany of complaints. Many are essentially the same complaints CDHC critics made a decade ago, but some new ones have been added." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Policy Analysis -- Health Savings Accounts: Answering the Critics, Part III
Excerpt: "Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow patients to manage some of the dollars spent on their health care. Critics say that giving health care consumers the ability to control their own spending will have dire consequences. The evidence shows otherwise." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Pennsylvania House OKs Further HSA Tax Breaks
Excerpt: "Legislation approved last week by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would expand a 2005 law and give additional tax breaks to contributions made to health savings accounts." (Business Insurance)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

FASB Retirement Accounting Project Could Have Significant Effect on Companies' Financial Statements
Excerpt: "Changes in the accounting rules for pensions and other postretirement benefits planned by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) could have a major financial impact on many companies by requiring them to recognize an additional liability on their balance sheets, according to a Towers Perrin analysis." (Towers Perrin)

Study Highlights Business Case for Attracting and Retaining Workers Age 50+
Excerpt: "A study Towers Perrin recently completed for AARP sheds new light on the opportunities and challenges companies face in labor markets marked by aging populations and smaller numbers of new workforce entrants. The study suggests that companies are likely to face growing competition for talent in a broad range of occupations as the baby boomers retire and may benefit by deploying workforce strategies that place greater emphasis on attracting and retaining workers age 50+." (Towers Perrin)

Sixth Circuit Disallows Dow Chemical's Interest Deduction on Loans to Pay COLI Policies
Excerpt: "THE Sixth Circuit, reversing a district court, has found that Dow Chemical's corporate-owned life insurance (COLI) policies on the lives of employees were economic shams. Thus, the employer deductions for interest incurred on loans used to pay the COLI premiums, and for fees related to the administration of the policies, were disallowed. (The Dow Chemical Company v. U.S. (2006, CA6), 97 AFTR 2d 2006-385)" (Pension & Benefits Week via RIA News Briefings - Pension & Benefits)

Blog: Transition Relief for IRC 409A(b)
Excerpt: "Taxpayers have through 12/31/2007 to bring nonqualified deferred compensation plans into compliance with respect to rules under IRC 409A(b) relating to offshore trusts and financial health triggers, under transition relief announced by the IRS. [IRS Notice 2006-33]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Blog: Secular Trust Dead Horse Buried
Excerpt: "Finding the case moot, the 7th Circuit has affirmed dismissal of claims by two former executives against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, seeking nonqualified pension funds promised under employment contracts with a failed savings institution." (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Blog: More 409A Guidance -- IRS Notice 2006-33
Excerpt: "The transition relief provided by the Notice says that, with respect to assets set aside, transferred or restricted on or before March 21, 2006 so as to be subject to inclusion under sections 409A(b)(1) or 409A(b)(2), taxpayers shall be treated as not having triggered the inclusion or additional tax provisions of section 409A(b) if the NDCP comes into conformity on or before December 31, 2007, with the requirements of section 409A(b) and any guidance issued before such date." (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via

Getting Auto Workers to Leave a Golden Job
Excerpt: "The departure package is a crucial element in enticing workers off the payrolls at both General Motors and Delphi, .... To be most effective, the package must convey to workers the bleak message that the companies they work for cannot prosper unless they leave. Workers must be convinced that this buyout deal is the best they can get -- that the offer will not get sweeter as time goes on at either Delphi or G.M." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Ivy Mutual Funds Added to CPI Retirement Platform
(CPI Qualified Plan Consultants, Inc.)

Labor Department Announces New Mailing Addresses For Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.