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March 30, 2006
Today's sponsor: Financial Research Associates

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

STARS & STRIPES: National Public Employees' Retirement Funds Summit

5th ANNUAL STARS & STRIPES SUMMIT 2006
April 2rd - 4th, 2006
The Wyndham Casa Marina Resort, Key West, FL

Stars & Stripes gives you the information you need to best manage your fund in these challenging times. With the majority of our attendees from the plan sponsor community, you're certain to learn both from the outstanding speaker faculty and your peers!


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

ERIC Letter Urges Pension Conferees to Enact FSA Rollover (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "ERIC wrote to the Senate and House conferees currently negotiating the Pension Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 2830 and S. 1783) on March 29, 2006 urging them to enact a provision contained only in the House version of the bill, which would allow employees with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to rollover $500 annually." (The ERISA Industry Committee)

Overview: CMS Guidance on COBRA-Covered Individuals and Retiree Drug Subsidy (PDF)
2 pages. (Milliman)

Protecting the HIPAA PHI of Minors Is Complicated and Critical
Excerpt: "The entire minor medical records business gets tricky for several reasons. For one thing, parents are entitled to the lion's share of their minor children's general medical records without the minor's permission, which presents a logistical challenge." (Report on Patient Privacy via AISHealth.com)

Mental Health Coverage Affordable, Study Finds
Excerpt: "A new study involving federal employees has found that providing better mental health coverage does not lead to an explosion in insurance costs, a potentially important development in an old national debate over what insurance plans should cover. The study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined seven federal health plans in the years after 1999, ...." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Health Costs Trend Slows, Use of Care Management Grows
Excerpt: "Employers saw some relief in health benefit costs, which rose an average of 6.1% in 2005, down from 7.5% in 2004, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting's survey of 2,999 employers. Meanwhile, pres.cription drug inflation was 11.5% last year, down from 14.3% in 2004." (BenefitNews Connect)

Opinion: Transparency in Health Care Prices
Excerpt: "Consumers may soon be able to shop for health care the way they shop for groceries. But in order for patients to become savvy shoppers in the medical marketplace, they must be able to discover what things cost and to compare prices as well as value. Today, that's not easy." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

A Few Tax Deduction Tips Can Save Employees Money and Allay Tax-Time Jitters
Excerpt: "Employers can save workers money by alerting them to the tax deduction for big medical expenses. Form 1040a allows filers to deduct unrecouped, out-of-pocket medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of their adjusted gross income." (BenefitNews Connect)

Health Plans Prepare for Avian Flu Outbreak in the U.S.
Excerpt: "As fears rise about a possible pandemic of Avian Influenza A (H5N1), health insurers have begun preparations, developing briefing papers and online information sources to educate group and individual customers about the threat and working internally to adjust disaster planning for a possible outbreak." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via AISHealth.com)

HSAs and High-Deductible Health Plans: A Primer (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This issue brief covers HSA basics, history, arguments raised for and against them, and a forecast of their impact on health insurance markets and consumer behavior." (Alliance for Health Reform)

A Health Insurance Pool May Help Hawaii's Small Businesses
Excerpt: "The bad news is that Hawaii's small businesses rank high among the employed uninsured under PHCA, which was enacted in 1974 and reflects Hawaii's plantation-era economy of greater employment by large companies. Of the state's five-year average of 48,428 uninsured private-sector employees from 2001 to 2005, 40.2 percent, or 19,515 workers were employed by firms with less than 25 employees, according to CPS data." (Hawaii Business)

Wellpoint Sued in California Over Canceled Health Insurance Policies
Excerpt: "Ten Californians filed separate lawsuits on Tuesday against WellPoint Inc., saying the insurer violated a state law banning 'post-claim underwriting' by canceling policies after claims were made." (Business Insurance)

Prominent Health Policy Specia.list Blasts Bush HSA Plan on Capitol Hill
Excerpt: "At a March 10 hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., renowned Princeton University economics professor Uwe Reinhardt, Ph.D., criticized President Bush's proposals to expand health savings account (HSA)-based health coverage as 'Marie Antoinette-ism.'" (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Welcome to BenefitsLink Advertiser Westside Orthodontics
Excerpt: "We are a full and comprehensive dental practice which offers dental benefits to Union Employees, especially Local 3 electrical union and all electricians. West Side Orthodontics Offers full comprehensive Orthodontic Specialty Care at no extra Charge to Local 3 electrical union. We accept Local 3 electrical payments as full payment for Adult and Children Orthodontics aka Braces." (BenefitsLink.com)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Comments on a FASB Project to Reconsider Accounting for Pension Benefits and Other Benefits (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "On behalf of the American Academy of Actuaries' Committee on Pension Accounting, [William J. Sohn commends] the [Financial Accounting Standards Board] on its decision to pursue a thorough reconsideration, consistent with its other broad commitments, of pension and other postemployment benefit (OPEB) accounting, which in its current form lacks transparency." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Age Wave: Adapting to Older Workers
Excerpt: "The ranks of workers 55 and older are swelling, yet few employers have adjusted to meet the needs of this strategically important segment of the workforce. Researcher and author Ken Dychtwald says companies might want to start thinking about flexible schedules, ergonomics and enhanced opportunities for older workers before they lose vital expertise." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Excerpt from and Link to Article on ERISA Section 510
Excerpt: "Kenni Merritt has written an article for the Oklahoma Bar Journal which is a primer on ERISA Section 510 claims: 'Interference with ERISA-Protected Rights: Making a Federal Case Out of a Wrongful Discharge Action.'" (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via BenefitsBlog.com)

Company Boards Want Paper Trail on Executive Pay
Excerpt: "Amid accusations that corporate directors have been rubber-stamping executive pay packages, board members are looking to create a paper trail that proves they're doing their homework." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of March 28, 2006
Excerpt: "Hewitt's Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans, retirement plans, and human resources and employment law." (Hewitt Associates)

New Section on Watsonwyatt.com Highlights Information for Global Businesses
Excerpt: "Watson Wyatt Worldwide has launched a special section on its web site that focuses on the needs of multinational companies. This new web resource highlights information on the current business issues that are playing out on the world stage -- ranging from global competition to offshore outsourcing, to cross-border mergers and acquisitions. It is designed to help multinational companies stay up-to-date with the key HR, compensation and benefits issues affecting their businesses today." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Plan Sponsors Can Use Transparent Bidding Procedures to Save on Their Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "All vendors had an opportunity to submit as many re-bids as they wished up to the close of the event. HighRoads compared the initial bid of each vendor with its final bid and compared the final bid of the winning vendor to the cost of the existing benefit plan. The survey results consolidated data from 46 RFPs for medical, dental, life and disability insurance. " (BenefitNews Connect)

Merrill Hit with NASD Complaint
Excerpt: "A Microsoft Corp. employee who allegedly lost $1 million because of advice to using 'unsuitable' leverage to buy shares of the computer company as part of an employee option program has filed an action with regulators." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2006 Boston Mid-Sized Pension Management Conference
in Massachusetts on May 7, 2006
presented by University Conference Services

COBRA Traps: Ten Common Problems and How to Address Them-- Lessons for Employers, Administrators, and Advisors
Nationwide on April 20, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Health Savings Accounts: Design, Care, and Feeding-- What Employers, TPAs, and Advisors Need to Know and Do
Nationwide on March 23, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Spring Seminar
in Oregon on April 5, 2006
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference - Portland Chapter

Update from Washington Co-sponsored with ABCNE
in Massachusetts on April 26, 2006
presented by WEB Worldwide Employee Benefits Network MA Chapter


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Two Step Software Knows How to Give Great Telephone Support: Move to Needham
(Two-Step Software, Inc.)

Two Step Founder Advises Legal Professionals to Include Client Corporate Records in Disaster Recovery Plans
(Two-Step Software, Inc.)

CFDD Announces Availability Of The APEX HealthCheck For Retirement Advisors
(Metrics Partners)

White Horse Advisors Hires New Team Member
(White Horse Advisors, LLC)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Consultant, Defined Contribution/Daily Valuation (DC/DV)
for Schloss, a BenefitStreet company
in NY

Implementation Specialist ~ Financial Services
for CitiStreet
in NJ

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for Pension Planning Consultants, Inc.
in NM

Small Plan Actuarial Consultant
for Pension Planning Consultants, Inc.
in NM

Health & Welfare Consultant
for Towers Perrin
in LOCATION OTHER THAN U.S., CA, CT, DC, GA, IL, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX

Benefit Analyst
for Crews MacQuarrie & Associates, Inc.
in CA

Pension Administrator
for Stephen H. Rosen & Associates, Inc.
in NJ

Director of Benefits
for Skilled Healthcare, LLC
in CA

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

Health Insurance Account Manager
for Great-West Healthcare
in WA

Retirement Services Account Manager 2
for SunTrust Banks, Inc.
in DC




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

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