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March 28, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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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)

Choosing a New Health Plan Design? Differences Among HRAs, HSAs, and FSAs -- Beyond the Basics (PDF)
49 pages. Excerpt: "This chart summarizes some of the differences between (1) a health reimbursement account under Revenue Ruling 2002-41, 2002-2 C.B. 75, and Notice 2002-45, 2002-2 C.B. 93 ('HRA'), (2) a health savings account under section 223 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended ('Code'), and principally, Notice 2004-2, 2004-1 C.B. 269 and Notice 2004-50, 2004-33 I.R.B. 196 (August 16, 2004) ('HSA') and (3) a health plan that is a flexible spending arrangement under sections ...." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

2005 ERISA Advisory Council Working Group Reports -- Health & Welfare Benefit Plans' Communications
Excerpt: "The 2005 ERISA Advisory Council formed a Working Group (hereinafter referred to as the Working Group) on Health and Welfare Benefit Plans' Communications to assess just how well the material distributed by employer sponsors to participants and beneficiaries of health and welfare plans achieved the following goals of: Accessibility, ...." (Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans)

Social Security Finalizes Some Changes in Disability Benefits Determination Process
Excerpt: "People who are clearly disabled could be approved for disability benefits in as little as 20 days under a new determination process to be rolled out by the Social Security Administration." (AP via Yahoo! News)

Bush Calls on Blues Plans to Offer HSA-Compatible Options to Federal Workers
Excerpt: "President Bush's 2007 budget calls for the nation's Blues plans to offer a health savings account (HSA)-compatible option to federal employees beginning on Jan. 1, 2007." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

Health Plans, HIPAA and COBRA Update (PDF)
91 pages. Excerpt: "This outline is intended to only address the general principles governing COBRA continuation coverage." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

GPO Group Warns Court Ruling Could Cause Trouble with Price Sharing
Excerpt: "The Health Industry Group Purchasing Association, the trade association for GPOs, became the latest to express concern that a court ruling could prevent hospitals from sharing price data for contracted supplies with GPOs." (ModernHealthcare; one-time registration required)

Overview: DOL Extends Sunset Date of Mental Health Parity Act Regulations to December 31, 2006
Excerpt: "The MHPA prohibits a group health plan from applying a lower annual or aggregate lifetime dollar limit to mental health benefits than it applies to medical/surgical benefits." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Providing Mental Health Benefits Can Mean Great Returns
Excerpt: "[T]he federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) exempts self-insured companies from state regulation. That means that a good many large and small businesses legally can get away with not offering mental health coverage at all, or with including it on a limited basis." (Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly)

Overview: Health Savings Account Legislation Introduced in the Senate
Excerpt: "A bill introduced by Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) on March 15 seeks to boost the amount of pre-tax money high-deductible health plan (HDHP) enrollees can contribute to their health savings accounts (HSAs). And up to five additional bills -- each addressing other elements of President Bush's proposals to expand HSAs -- are expected this spring." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

Overview: USERRA Final Regulations (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The DOL issued proposed regulations in September 2004 and has now finalized those rules with several changes, which became effective January 18, 2006. The final regulations address many issues that have arisen in administering USERRA, as summarized below." (Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Guidance Regarding 409A: Use of Offshore Trusts & Financial Health Trigger Arrangements
Excerpt: "Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code imposes new restrictive Federal tax rules governing 'nonqualified deferred compensation plans' and provides significant taxes on individuals who violate them." (Orrick)

G.M.'s Jobs Bank Looms as Major Obstacle on Road to Company Survival
Excerpt: "The Jobs Bank is one critical burden that G.M. has to carry as it embarks on one of the biggest challenges -- and biggest balancing acts -- of its corporate survival. To become a leaner, more profitable company, it needs to persuade the right number of workers to take the buyouts, without chasing away its best people. If not enough people leave, G.M. is stuck with excess workers, who will swell the ranks of the Jobs Bank." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: New Mailing Addresses for Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program
Excerpt: "The DFVC Program is available only to plans that have not been notified by the DOL in writing of a failure to file a timely Form 5500." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

ERISA Litigation Forum: ERISA Section 510 Plant Closing Claims
Nationwide on April 4, 2006
presented by Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP

Measuring the Clinical Effectiveness of Disease Management Programs
in Georgia on April 20, 2006
presented by Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB) - Atlanta Chapter

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Contact Your Members of Congress Today: Urge Permanent Enactment of EGTRRA Pension and Savings Provisions
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

BLAZE SSI Releases .Net and Win32 ActiveX Components for the Pension Industry

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Senior Benefits Analyst
for Chugach Alaska Corporation
in VA

401(k) / Tiered Plan Administrator
for The Pension Group, Inc.
in CA

Pension Analyst
for BeneTrends, Inc.
in PA

401(k) Marketing Specialist
for The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
in NY, PA

401(k)/Retirement Plan Specialist
for Pension Specialists, Inc.
in CA

Handy Links:

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

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