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April 6, 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)

Massachusetts Health Bill Premiums May Exceed Predictions -- Ability of Some to Pay Is at Issue
Excerpt: "When Governor Mitt Romney dramatically proposed a universal health insurance plan a year ago, a key element was providing low-cost, pared-down coverage for about $200 a month. But in the end, legislators were unwilling to adopt some of the measures that the governor and insurers had counted on to lower premiums ...." (The Boston Globe)

On Health Care, Massachusetts Leaders Invoked Action, Not Talk
Excerpt: "Massachusetts has more than its share of political egos per capita, so one of the most surprising aspects about the measure this week to create near-universal health care coverage is that it involved the cooperation of virtually every political stakeholder in the state." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Audio: Massachusetts May Require Health Insurance for All and Sidebar with Key Details of the Bill
Excerpt: "The Massachusetts legislature has enacted a bill designed to provide health insurance for nearly all its citizens. If Gov. Mitt Romney signs the bill, the state would become the first in the nation to require all individuals to have health coverage or pay a penalty." (Morning Edition via National Public Radio)

Fact Sheet on the Uninsured and Proposed Massachusetts Health Reforms (PDF)
2 pages. The Physicians for a National Health Program Massachusetts Chapter provides this fact sheet. (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Opinion: Massachusetts Universal Health Care and ERISA Preemption
Excerpt: "[T]here is likely to be a legal challenge to this bill once it is signed into law under a theory of ERISA preemption. Although at one point I opined that I thought whether this state law would be preempted by ERISA would depend on whether a plan was fully insured or self-insured, I now believe that the part of the Massachusetts law dealing with employer payments will be preempted regardless how the insurance plan is established." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Health Coverage Reform Follows State-by-State Path
Excerpt: "As Washington continues to debate relatively minor changes to the health system, a growing number of states are thinking big: ...." (USA TODAY)

In-House MD OK for Disability Claims
Excerpt: "The district court misapplied the arbitrary and capricious standard by undervaluing the opinion of a long-term disability plan administrator's in-house doctors, according to a 7th Circuit decision reversing the district court to grant summary judgment for the plan in denial of disability benefits. [Davis v. Unum, Nos. 05-2001 and 05-2165]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Engaging and Empowering Baby Boomers to Prevent and Treat Disabilities
Excerpt: "With the baby boom generation (ages 42-60) growing older and yet working until a more advanced age, the focus needs to be on developing strategies for managing the health of that population by using best practices and closely monitoring and managing their disability claims, industry experts advise." (Employee Benefit News)

Aetna to Expand Disease Management Programs
Excerpt: "Aetna said Wednesday it is expanding its disease management programs for members from six to 30 conditions, and will add 100 or more nurses in other states to handle the work." (The Hartford Courant; one-time registration required)

Some Payers Link Disease Management Participation to Rx Copays
Excerpt: "Many health insurers and employers are lowering or eliminating pharmacy copayments for patients with specific chronic diseases in an effort to improve compliance with treatment regimens. But these firms are divided on whether to link such copay savings to participation in a disease management (DM) program." (INSIDE DISEASE MANAGEMENT via AISHealth.com)

Groups Push for Patient Control in National IT System
Excerpt: "A coalition of 26 advocacy groups urged Congress to put patients' right to privacy at the core of any health information legislation. In a letter to members of key House committees, the Coalition for Patient Privacy said patients should own their healthcare data. [The coalition letter is at http://www.patientprivacyrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=CoalitionSignOnLtr.]" (ModernHealthcare; one-time registration required)

Key Operational Trends in Health Care
Excerpt: "Healthcare reform usually focuses on high level policy issues .... In reality, observing bottom-up 'operational' adjustments might offer greater insight than watching for signs in top-down machinations. Operational trends may fly under the radar, but they are profoundly transforming healthcare. These directional changes in operations shouldn't be overlooked by healthcare leaders: ...." (HealthLeaders News)

'A Benefit for Insurers' by Milt Freudenheim, Published March 31, 2006, in The New York Times
Excerpt: "Critics who say the private insurance industry got too big a role in the new Medicare pres.cription drug program may not know the half of it. For patients, the program's rollout has had mixed reviews, with many happy customers but more than a few tales of woe. But for many big insurers, the new Medicare program is shaping up as a great opportunity. And pres.cription drugs may be only a starting point." (The New York Times via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Opinion: Small Business Health Plans -- S. 1955 Resource Kit (PDF)
18 pages. Excerpt: "The following resource kit will explain the advantages of SBHPs in greater detail, noting specifically how S. 1955 resolves many of the criticisms SBHP-opponents have cited in the past. With the support of the business community, this key legislation may finally receive the attention it deserves in the Senate." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Opinion: Health Care Bill Seeks to Preempt State Laws
Excerpt: "'States' rights' is one of those political shibboleths that conservatives love to trot out to block federal initiatives they don't care for. But they're happy to lock it away when it proves inconvenient to something they love. Like, say, the health insurance lobby. That's when we get something like the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005, sponsored by Wyoming Republican Sen. Michael B. Enzi and ...." (Los Angeles Times via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

A Brief Overview of the Major Flaws with Health Savings Accounts (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "To encourage more people to open HSAs, the Administration is proposing substantial new HSA tax subsidies, such as providing a tax credit as well as a deduction for contributions to HSAs, making the premium costs for HSA-related health plans purchased in the individual market tax deductible ..., and increasing the amount that can be deposited in a HSA each year .... .... These proposals -- and HSAs in general -- suffer from several serious problems: ...." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Assurant Settles with Aflac over Voluntary Products
Excerpt: "In the wake of a recent adverse decision in its legal wrangles with Aflac, Assurant has settled with the voluntary product giant, promising to rewrite contract language in its cancer, accident, hospital indemnity and sickness indemnity policies." (The Advisor)

Today's Working Women Seek Mentors, Motherhood Transition
Excerpt: "With upward of 70% of working age women currently in the workforce, employers who acknowledge and effectively address the unique benefit needs of women will be on the leading edge of workplace change, experts believe." (Employee Benefit News)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: FASB to Change Employers Balance Sheet for Pensions and Retiree Health Benefits in 2006 (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has entered phase one of a two-phase project to change current accounting rules for postretirement benefit plans. .... This Alert details the proposed changes, their bearing on different entities, when they will become effective, and other important decisions made by FASB." (Aon Consulting)

Credit Suisse Group Analysis Estimates $255B FASB Rule Impact
Excerpt: "The recently finalized Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) proposal to force companies to put pensions and other post-employment benefits on their balance sheets will cut 7% from total shareholder's equity from the S&P 500." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of April 4, 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)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Control and Affiliated Service Group Determinations
Nationwide on June 1, 1906
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

HIPAA and Health Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
in New Mexico on May 9, 2006
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration

Personal Health Records-A Missing Part of A Consumer Driven Plan
Nationwide on April 12, 2006
presented by MediKeeper

To Roth or Not: Recent Guidance on Roth 401(k) Arrangements
Nationwide on April 11, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Thomas Preusker Joins Stifel Nicolaus' Racine Office
(Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Ancillary Benefits Specialist
for Administaff
in TX


Post a Help Wanted Ad

Senior Retirement Plan Consultant
for Invesmart, Inc.
in TX

Retirement Plan Analyst
for Invesmart, Inc.
in MA

Employee Benefits Manager
for Catholic Health Initiatives
in KY

Sr. Administrator - Defined Benefit Pension Plans
for Washington Group International, Inc.
in ID

Health Benefits Consultant / Account Manager
for Financial Directions Group
in NC

Client Information Administrator
for The Newport Group, Inc. (Lake Mary/Orlando, FL location)
in FL

Benefits Manager
for $2B Consumer Packaged Goods Company
in OH

Associate Internal Sales Consultant
for Wachovia
in NC

Participant Services Center Supervisor
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in MA

Pension Consultant
for CDM Retirement Consultants, Inc., a leading Third Party Administration firm
in MD

Relationship Manager II
for AST Trust Company
in AZ




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