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March 24, 2006
Today's sponsor: The Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits at The John Marshall Law School

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for The Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits at The John Marshall Law School

Presents Two Programs on the Current State of Employee Benefits:

Please join us for "The 4th Annual Employee Benefits Symposium" on April 7, 2006, from 9 a.m. 4:30 p.m. and "Employer-Sponsored Health Plans: Problems, Choices and Solutions" on April 28, 2006 from 9 a.m. 4 p.m. Both Programs will be held at the law school, 315 S. Plymouth Ct. in Chicago. For more information, or to register for either program, e-mail 6winicza@jmls.edu or click above for more information.

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

AARP Reply Brief in Case Involving the ADEA and ERISA (PDF)
52 pages. Excerpt: "[The target page] is the reply brief filed by AARP in the [EOEC] case. AARP argues again, among other things, against [The ERISA Industry Committee's] position relating to Brand X and submits to the court a recent case decided in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, State of New York v. Environmental Protection Agency. (No. 03-1380; March 17, 2006.)" (AARP via The ERISA Industry Committee)

Background on the Flex HSAs Act Sponsored by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "The Flex HSAs Act will help to expand the adoption of HSAs by Americans who work for large employers by making HSAs a more attractive option for health care coverage. It will do so by: Permitting the coordination of HSAs with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and/or Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) by allowing them to be used in conjunction with HSA/High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) arrangements, and ...." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Blog: Church Plan Exemption Inapplicable to Religious Hospital's Disability Plan
Excerpt: "A disability plan sponsored by a Baptist hospital does not qualify for exemption from ERISA as a church plan, according to an 8th Circuit ruling affirming the district court's denial of motion to remand to local jurisdiction. However, the 8th also affirmed the district court's judgment instructing the plan administrator to re-open the administrative record and re-determine the claim, finding the original benefits denial to lack support. [Chronister v. Baptist Health, No. 05-1565]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Reminder -- HIPAA Privacy Notice of Privacy Practices (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "At least once every three years, employers are required to remind individuals covered under an employer-sponsored group health plan of availability of the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices. For 'large' group health plans, the HIPAA Privacy compliance date was April 14, 2003, the three-year reminder will need to be given by April 14, 2006." (Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.)

Employers More Aware of Behavioral Risks
Excerpt: "Nearly all employers (96%) identified mental health risk as a growing area of concern in a new study from the Disability Management Employer Coalition." (BenefitNews Connect)

Chrysler Gives Employees a New Lease on Work and Life
Excerpt: "Last week we learned that the salaried workforce will pay health-care premiums according to their earnings starting Jan. 1. So executives who rake in the most dough will have to shell out the most for medical coverage, while the lowest paid workers won't pay $1 more for coverage. .... Now the automaker's rolling out another change to benefit all salaried workers. Chrysler has changed its lease plan to allow more workers to lease a company car at a lower rate." (Chicago Tribune via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Proposal to Allow Maine's DirigoChoice Program to Be Self-Insured Causes Concern
Excerpt: "Proponents of a proposal to change Maine's DirigoChoice program to a self-insured health insurance program 'had a hard time convincing skeptics' at a legislative hearing on Tuesday that the proposal would make the program more affordable, ...." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

HIPAA'S Privacy Regulations and Their Impact on Group Health Plans (PDF)
79 pages. Excerpt: "This outline summarizes the HIPAA Privacy Regulations as modified. No one should rely on this as legal advice. In every situation, the application of the rules requires careful analysis by an attorney who is familiar with your particular situation." (ALI-ABA Video Law Review via Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Proposed Bill Would Worsen Privacy Concerns for Medical Records, Opinion Piece Says
Excerpt: "'Like virtually every aspect of our lives since Sept. 11, the federal government is using the excuse of 'protecting us from acts of terrorism' to snatch what little privacy we might have' left concerning our medical records, former congressman and U.S. Attorney Bob Barr writes in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Learning from Abroad: Lessons and Questions on Personal Health Records for National Policy (PDF)
80 pages. Excerpt: "This study describes the status of PHR adoption in four English-speaking countries: Australia, Can.ada, England, and New Zealand. The authors conclude that, in general, the differences between the U.S. health care system and those in the nations studied, preclude wholesale borrowing of ideas and approaches. Nevertheless, they identify areas of common focus and shared purpose, ...." (AARP)

Lower Medical Bills Through Health Coaching
Excerpt: "Eastman Chemical Co. significantly reduced its medical bills through a program that helps newly diagnosed patients weigh treatment options." (BenefitNews Connect)

Kaiser's Medicare Q&A Weekly Column, March 23, 2006
Excerpt: "Q: My wife and I currently have drug coverage through my former employer. With the start of the Medicare drug benefit, can my former employer eliminate drug coverage for us? Are there any federal laws preventing this from happening?" (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Overview: April 10 Deadline for 'Advance' Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) Payments from CMS
Excerpt: "Only certain retiree health plans may request this advance specifically, those plans with an approved RDS application that requested monthly subsidy payments on their application (not quarterly or annual payments)." (The Segal Company)

Avian Flu Pandemic Preparation for Employers
Excerpt: "Experts recommend that employers make contingency plans now. (See CDC's website [http://www.cdc.gov/page.do] for more information on bird flu, and recommendations for pandemic preparation.) Many employers will be able to build on disaster contingency plans they developed in response to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and other disasters." (Faegre & Benson LLP)

Opinion: Health Advisers and Ownership of Insurance
Excerpt: "People do need expert help in navigating the growing complexities of treatment options, and the health sector is beginning to respond by offering health coaches and disease and chronic care management programs. But that's just the beginning: The new information economy will offer even more options, including health care advisers, to help people make better health care and health spending decisions." (Galen Institute)

The Case Against Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "Asking employees to pay more for their care can be a plus on balance sheets but a minus on medical charts, say critics. With health-care costs perched high on their list of worries, many CFOs see health savings accounts as a way to stanch the bleeding. But growing corporate interest in HSAs has been met by a growing backlash by critics and researchers." (Economist.com via Insurance NewsNet)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Section 409A Stock Valuation Guidance for Privately-Held Companies (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "This News Alert discusses the impact of Section 409A ('Section 409A') of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the 'Code'), on the determination of the fair market value of company stock for purposes of granting certain stock compensation awards while the stock is not publicly traded. [Originally published January 23, 2006.]" (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

GASB White Paper: Why Governmental Accounting and Financial Reporting Is-- and Should Be-- Different
Excerpt: "Although state and local governments in the United States have had separate standards for over 100 years, occasionally the question is raised: Why can't general purpose governments (cities and counties, for example) simply apply the standards established for business enterprises?1 The following questions and answers briefly address that issue, and the accompanying paper and its appendixes provide an expanded discussion." (Governmental Accounting Standards Board)

SEC Compensation Disclosures Get CFO Support
Excerpt: "The recent move by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require broad-brush executive compensation disclosures has drawn wide support in a recent chief financial officer survey. A news release said that the quarterly CFO Outlook Survey conducted by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business found that 71% were generally behind the disclosures." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Discover2006: Creating Powerful Connections
in Colorado on July 15, 2006
presented by Fiserv, Inc.

SEC Launches New Regulation Affecting Advisors, TPAs & Trust Companies Webcast to Equip Industry for Change
Nationwide on April 6, 2006
presented by Gail Weiss & Associates, Inc.


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PensionRiskMatters.com Will Address Issues Affecting $10 Trillion Pension Industry
(PensionRiskMatters.com)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401k Account Executive
for BISYS Retirement Services
in PA

Enrolled Actuary
for CJA and Associates
in IL, MI

Account Manager, Employee Benefits
for ABD Insurance and Financial Services
in CA

Major Accounts Retirement Services District Manager
for ADP ~ Automatic Data Processing
in OR, WA

Enrolled Actuary
for Summit Benefit & Actuarial Services, Inc.
in OR, WI

Pension Benefit Processor
for GCC/IBT-SRDF
in IL




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