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April 18, 2006
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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)

Labor Department Updates Voluntary Fiduciary Compliance Program
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration)

House GOP Wants Reimbursement Right Added to Pension Bill
Excerpt: "House Republicans are trying to use a pension bill being negotiated with the Senate to overturn a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling making it more difficult for employer-provided health plans to recover expenses in third-party lawsuits." (MarketWatch.com)

Congress Ponders Health Care Deregulation Bill
Excerpt: "Congress is considering a far-reaching reform that would give insurers a new right to scale back benefits by pre-empting state-mandated offerings." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Business Groups Lobby to Uphold Erie County Decision
Excerpt: "More than 15 business groups have stepped into the middle of the longstanding legal battle over whether employers can cut back retiree health benefits." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Gallery Owner Touts Art Clubs As Corporate and Cultural Benefit
Excerpt: "[Katie] Croke, who co-owns the Springer-Croke Fine Art gallery in San Francisco, encourages employers to acquire artwork and/or establish employee art clubs to heighten employees' knowledge and appreciation for art. In return, she says, art clubs can reap rewards for employers through increased employee creativity, productivity, morale and loyalty." (Employee Benefit News)

Overview: HIPAA Security Rules Small Health Plan Compliance Deadline: April 20, 2006
Excerpt: "Any employer that sponsors a group health plan that creates, maintains, or transmits protected health information electronically must comply with the security regulations issued pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (the 'Security Rules'). The Security Rules apply to medical, dental, and vision plans, as well as health flexible spending accounts and many employee assistance plans." (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

Stitching Up Health Records: Privacy Compliance Lags
Excerpt: "The good news about privacy and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is that more than 80 percent of companies involved in health care have technology and processes in place to provide the level of patient-privacy protection required by the 1996 law. The bad news? All were supposed to have done so by April 2003." (eWEEK.com)

Health Insurer Mergers' Murky Effects -- Insurers' Consolidation Not Clearly Linked to Cost Woes
Excerpt: "Mergers of health-insurance companies, which have proliferated in recent years, were supposed to provide an antidote to the high cost of medical care -- or at least a salve. But it doesn't appear to be working out that way, some analysts say, although there is so much local variation in the effect of the mergers that a definitive answer is hard to come by." (MarketWatch/Dow Jones via The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights)

Massachusetts Health Reform Could Prompt Spike in High-Deductible Health Plans
Excerpt: "It's too early to tell what sort of an effect Massachusetts' landmark health care reform law will have on account-based health coverage in that state. However, some industry observers say it could boost enrollment in health savings account (HSA)-qualified high-deductible health plans (HDHPs)." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Opinion: Massachusetts Health Care Plan Needs Dose of Common Sense
Excerpt: "IF GOVERNOR Romney thinks the state's new plan for universal health coverage will carry him to the White House, he should think again. This Rube Goldberg contraption won't even get him off the ground because it doesn't touch the underlying problem -- our reliance on multiple private insurance companies." (The Boston Globe via California Nurses Association / National Nurses Organizing Committee)

Overview: New Mandates for Employers Under Massachusetts Health Coverage Law?
Excerpt: "A new Massachusetts law is getting a lot of attention for requiring residents to carry health insurance if they can afford it. But the battle over whether employers should be compelled to provide health benefits also is coming to the fore in Massachusetts, as it is in many other states." (Deloitte's Washington Bulletin via BenefitsLink.com)

Wal-Mart Reducing Certain Pres.cription Copays
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc., under pressure from critics who say the world's biggest retailer pays poor wages and benefits, on Monday said it plans to reduce employee copayments for certain pres.cription drugs to $3 from $10." (Business Insurance)

More Part-Timers Can Get Wal-Mart Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart Stores said today it will relax eligibility requirements for part-time employees who want health insurance, allowing an additional 150,000 workers to gain coverage if they choose." (HoustonChronicle.com)

Health Insurers' Mergers Limiting Options, Says Study by AMA
Excerpt: "Health insurance mergers have created oligopolies and near monopolies in many parts of the country, limiting consumer and provider choice, according to an American Medical Association study released Monday." (San Francisco Chronicle)

New Jersey Will Explore Mandating Universal Coverage of Health Insurance
Excerpt: "New Jersey officials say they will explore ways to follow the lead of Massachusetts, which last week adopted the nation's first universal health insurance law." (Newark Star Ledger)

Corrected Author for Editorial: Mandatory Health Insurance
Excerpt: "The cornerstone of the [Massachusetts] program is a requirement that everyone have a health insurance policy or pay a financial penalty. States have long required drivers to carry liability insurance, but this is the first time any state has imposed a health insurance mandate." (New York Times; one-time registration required)

Urgent Problems to Tackle in Absence of Health Reform Plans in California
Excerpt: "Looking at the priorities set by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature, you'd never guess California has a health care crisis." (The Mercury News; one-time registration required)

Glaxo's CEO Says National Health Insurance Would Increase Americans' Access to Treatment
Excerpt: "Jean-Pierre Garnier, the Philadelphia-based chief executive officer of pharma.ceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C., said yesterday that the government should enact a system of national health insurance as a way to broaden access to treatment and reduce costs." (The Philadelphia Inquirer; one-time registration required)

Automaker Retiree Cuts Just the Beginning
Excerpt: "The auto industry's determination to reduce the drag of health benefit spending was brought home when, within weeks of each other, GM, Ford and Nissan put the brakes on retiree health coverage. Experts say the announcements put the future of retiree benefits in stark relief: As goes Detroit, so does the rest of the country. And the ripple effect will be huge." (Employee Benefit News)

Dental Account Holders Roll Over Funds
Excerpt: "Guardian, New York, set up a dental maximum rollover program in 2004. The program, which resembles a medical plan health reimbursement arrangement, rewards plan members who see dentists for checkups but hold down other expenditures by letting them keep a portion of unused plan spending power." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Editorial: Corporate Governance: Clean Up Books
Excerpt: "The accounting profession has funny rules. It remains legal, ethical and routine for companies to operate two sets of books, one for government tax collectors and another set for investors." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Sixth Circuit Addresses Fiduciary Status of Third-Party Administrator
Excerpt: "On April 13, 2005, the Sixth Circuit ruled that a third-party administrator may be considered an ERISA fiduciary even though it does not exercise discretionary control over plan assets." (erisa on the web)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

24th Annual Creative Pension & Benefits Seminar
in Ohio on May 5, 2006
presented by Ohio State University Office of Continuing Education (CEd), The

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Alabama on May 10, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Illinois on May 10, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in California on May 10, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in California on May 11, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in California on May 11, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in California on May 11, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in California on May 16, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Pennsylvania on May 16, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Texas on May 16, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Pennsylvania on May 17, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Florida on May 17, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Ohio on May 17, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in New Jersey on May 18, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Ohio on May 18, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Texas on May 18, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Missouri on May 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Alabama on May 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Illinois on May 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in South Carolina on May 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in North Carolina on May 10, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Illinois on May 11, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in California on May 16, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Texas on May 17, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Florida on May 18, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

The National Scene: Implications for the Employer Agenda
in Ohio on April 27, 2006
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Cleveland Chapter


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Aetna Statement in Support of Massachusetts Law to Cover the Uninsured
(Aetna)

Chicago ASPPA ABC to Host Sal Tripodi
(ASPA Benefits Council of Chicago)

Founder of PensionRiskMatters.com to Moderate Expert Panel about Financial Impact of Pensions on Corporate America
(Eastern Finance Association)

National Survey Reveals Parents Need to Be Educated on Health Insurance Risks, Options for their College Grads
(Assurant)

Total Value/Total Return(TM) Tells the Pitney Bowes Experience: Healthier Employees Translate into a Healthier Bottom Line
(GlaxoSmithKline)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Employee Benefits Tax Senior or Manager
for Deloitte
in CA

VP-Employee Benefits Product Service Quality
for CUNA Mutual Group
in WI

Life & Health Agent - Group Benefits
for Hancock Insurance Agency
in LA

Director of Corporate Benefit Plans
for Shelter Insurance Companies
in MO

Sr Client Communication Specialist/Sr. (Defined Contribution Plan Administration)
for Standard Insurance Company
in OR

Defined Benefit Calculation Analyst
for Diversified Investment Advisors, Inc.
in MA

Financial / Investment Specialist
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY




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