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April 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 An Informative Program on the Current State of Employee Benefits

Please join us for "Employer-Sponsored Health Plans: Problems, Choices and Solutions" Seminar on April 28, 2006 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. The programs will be held at the law school, 315 S. Plymouth Ct. in Chicago. For more information, or to register for the program, e-mail 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)

Companies Kick in Cash to Help Employees Become Homeowners
Excerpt: "Since 2000, at least 20 Chicago employers--including corporations, hospitals, municipalities and the public schools--have set up employer-assisted housing, or EAH, programs to help low- and middle-income employees afford homeownership." (Chicago Tribune)

Sabbaticals Aren't Just for Academics Anymore
Excerpt: "As a way to retain employees, induce them to work harder or keep them around in bad times, sabbaticals build good will.... Measuring return on investment is almost impossible, but companies with such plans seem as enthusiastic as any sabbatical taker." (New York Times; one-time registration required)

Groups To Advertise Opposition To Small Biz Health Plans
Excerpt: "The bill appears to have more support than previous versions establishing 'association health plans,' which the House has passed repeatedly but then stalls in the Senate. The new version has garnered less opposition from the powerful groups, such as the health insurance industry and the National Governors Association, which opposed AHP bills." (National Journal Group via BCBS Health Issues)

Overview: CMS Finalizes Guidance Regarding Medicare Part D Disclosure Notices
Excerpt: "The creditable and non-creditable coverage disclosure notices (generic notices) have been substantially revised to clarify numerous items and add new language. There is also a new personalized disclosure notice that should be provided upon the individual's request and can also be provided in lieu of the generic notices." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Competition in Health Insurance: 2005 Update (PDF)
38 pages. Excerpt: "The study's purpose is two-fold: first, to identify problem markets where competition is diminished and second, to prompt discussion about the long-term impact of consolidated health insurance markets on the health care system. This year's study demonstrates that competition is undermined in hundreds of markets across the country." (American Medical Association)

Opinion: 'Health Insurance Marketplace' Bill Threatens Comprehensive Care for All
Excerpt: "HIMMA would preempt state insurance laws and eliminate the ability of states to define the minimum requirements of health coverage offered to their residents.... HIMMA could hinder state mandated insurance coverage ..." (National Health Law Program)

Key Democrats Propose Federally-Run Health Insurance Exchange for Small Businesses
Excerpt: "The measure is being offered as an alternative to association health plan legislation that has been pending in the past several congresses." (HR Policy Association)

Wellness Programs Getting a Boost from Employers
Excerpt: "Her employer ... recently began offering $10 monthly discounts on health insurance premiums to employees who participate in the travel technology firm's wellness program. There's an extra $10-a-month discount if employees' spouses participate." (

TPA That Exercised Power to Write Checks on Plan Account Was a Fiduciary
Excerpt: "Although the exercise of discretion is often thought of as the test for fiduciary status, discretionary authority is not necessary when an entity exercises control over plan assets. Several other courts have held that third-party service providers with no discretionary authority were fiduciaries based on their exercise of authority or control over plan funds." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Aetna Will Not Cover Implant to Treat Severe Depression
Excerpt: "The health insurer Aetna said yesterday that it would not pay for a nerve-stimulating implant the government has approved as a last-ditch treatment for severe depression." (AP via New York Times; one-time registration required)

Wal-Mart Fight Turns More Political
Excerpt: "After Maryland's legislature passed a labor-backed bill requiring companies -- Wal-Mart in particular -- to spend more on workers' health insurance, the Arkansas company came out with improvements in its health care coverage." (AP via New York Times; one-time registration required)

FMLA Leave Not Counted as Hours Worked in Determining Health Plan Eligibility for Following Year
Excerpt: "Employers should keep in mind that the FMLA regulations on which the DOL's conclusion was based are detailed and include many other requirements, including a general requirement to reinstate health coverage and other benefits when an employee returns from an FMLA leave, and special provisions regarding retirement plans." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Major Decline in U.S. Deaths Is Recorded
Excerpt: "Preliminary government figures released Wednesday show that the annual number of deaths in the United States dropped by nearly 50,000 in 2004, the biggest decline in nearly 70 years." (AP via New York Times; one-time registration required)

Federal Regulation of Corporate Jet Perk Pays Off (PDF)
12 pages; reprinted on the target website by permission of the Benefits Law Journal. Excerpt: "This article discusses the financial, tax and regulatory implications behind the trend of executives using company jets for travel as part of their compensation." (Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP)

UnitedHealth Compensation Committee May Face Scrutiny
Excerpt: "The huge paydays for UnitedHealth Group Inc. Chairman and CEO William McGuire grabbed attention last week -- but that could soon be turning to the people who signed off on his pay package." (AP via New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: DOL Finalizes Changes to VFC Program
Excerpt: "The notice adds a new covered transaction for expenses improperly paid by the plan that should have been paid by the plan sponsor either because the expenses were 'settlor' expenses (that is, expenses relating to plan design, not administration) or because the plan's terms require that the sponsor pay the expenses." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Estate Planning Considerations for Qualified Plans and IRAs
Nationwide on June 15, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

HIPPA and Health Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
in Connecticut on May 24, 2006
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Four Percent of Participants Incur Half of Health Care Charges
(Watson Wyatt)

Standard & Poor's Launches Retirement Income Education Program
(Standard & Poor's)

Insurers Seek Immunity from Paying Patient Damages in Enzi Junk Health Bill
(Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights)

CitiStreet Rolls Out Income Distribution Product for Retiring Participants
(CitiStreet) Announces the Release of Welfare Plan Documents

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Client Relationship Manager
for The Douglas Group
in NJ, NY, PA

Employee Benefits Account Manager
for Kibble & Prentice
in WA

Employee Benefits Associate
for McDermott Will & Emery LLP
in IL

Compliance Analyst - Retirement Plan Services
for Ceridian
in FL

Conversion Specialist
for The Newport Group, Inc.
in NC

Pension Administration Specialist
for Milliman
in TX

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for Estate & Pension Advisory Board, Inc.
in PA

Pension Administrator
for Lebenson Actuarial Services
in NY

Handy Links:

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

Published by:, Inc.
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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.