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April 27, 2006
Today's sponsor: ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

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Banner ad for ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

Don't miss the 2006 Western Benefits Conference!

The famed Bellagio Hotel is the site of this year's WBC, held July 16-19. Sponsored by the Western Pension & Benefits Conference and ASPPA, there are more than 50 educational sessions on retirement, health, welfare, fiduciary issues and more plus networking activities such as an exhibit hall, golf outing, Sunday reception and entertainment on Monday evening.

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

New Massachusetts Health Insurance Coverage Law Is Double-Edged Sword
Excerpt: "The landmark Massachusetts law requiring companies with more than 10 employees to offer health insurance could be a boon -- or bust -- for staffing agencies and other companies hired to act as employers of record." (Workforce Management)

Massachusetts Senate Expected to Override Governor's Veto of Charge on Employers
Excerpt: "Debate lasted only a few minutes before the House voted 136-20 in the override of the $295 annual, per-worker fee on businesses with more than 11 workers that don't offer insurance.... The House overrides had been expected, and Senate President Robert Travaglini said Tuesday that he expects the Senate will override all eight of Romney's vetoes." (AP via Boston.com)

Opinion: The Massachusetts Health Plan-- Proceed with Caution (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "While the legislation has received positive attention from leading newspapers and other opinion leaders around the country, the law contains many mandates and enforcement provisions that should be of concern to those who believe in individual liberty and free markets." (Galen Institute)

Massachusetts-Style Coverage Expansion: What Would it Cost in California?
Policy brief. Excerpt: "California ... has 6.5 million uninsured residents-- nearly 12 times the number in Massachusetts.... The analysis, by the Institute for Health Policy Solutions, finds that because of economic and insurance coverage differences between the two states, providing Massachusetts-style health insurance coverage in California would require as much as $9.4 billion in additional funding-- or $1,450 per uninsured Californian." (Institute for Health Policy Solutions via California HealthCare Foundation)

Fuel Prices Have Workers Eyeing Telecommuting
Excerpt: "Companies can keep workers they might otherwise lose, while workers can count the benefit in terms of cold, hard cash, [experts] say." (Reuters)

Comments by American Academy of Actuaries on GASB Rule for Reporting Medicare Part D Payments (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "Below we have described four principal approaches an employer can use to provide pres.cription drug benefits to its retirees and have a portion of the cost funded, either directly or indirectly, by payments from the federal government." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
22 pages; April 25, 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 ..." (Hewitt)

Overview: CMS Updates 'Creditable Coverage' Guidance and Notices (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Group health plan sponsors affected by the disclosure rules should immediately prepare to provide the revised notices. Because the CMS guidance is effective May 15, 2006, plan sponsors should consider using the model notices while assessing the feasibility of personalized disclosures." (Milliman)

Wellness Programs Helping Firms, Workers Shape Up
Excerpt: "When Matria works with a company, it first looks at employees' risk factors, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, poor fitness, bad eating habits and whether people smoke. Extra attention goes to chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular problems, which account for a huge share of total costs." (TheMonitor.com)

Warning: A Good Economy May Be Hazardous to Your Health
Excerpt: "An uptick in the nation's economy corresponds to an increased number of fatal heart attacks ... Melvyn Rubenfire, director of preventative cardiology at the University of Michigan and an expert on executive health and company health management, agrees that companies need to make a better commitment to keeping their workers healthy." (Inc.com)

Understanding the Issues and Proposed Solutions for the Health Care Coverage Problem in America (PDF)
Policy brief; 23 pages. Excerpt: "This 23-page guide, written by the Alliance for Cover the Uninsured Week 2006, helps clarify who has coverage and who doesn't, and why being uninsured can cause so many problems-- for uninsured individuals and for society at large. Several options for increasing coverage are discussed, along with questions to consider when evaluating proposals to help the uninsured." (Alliance for Health Reform)

Percentage of Uninsured Americans Rising
Excerpt: "The percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage ..." (AP via New York Times; one-time registration required)

Unions Protest Health Care at Nation's Largest Employer: Wal-Mart
Excerpt: "Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com, targeted Wal-Mart's health-care insurance, which he said failed to cover 57 percent of its work force, or 775,000 employees." (AP via New York Times; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Text of IRS Official's Remarks on Pension and Healthcare Reforms to ASPPA Conference
Excerpt: "[T]his is an excellent opportunity to discuss the need for fundamental reform and to highlight some areas where the Administration believes the conference report must do better than either the House or Senate bills in order to ensure that pensions promises made are pension promises kept.... [T]he law unfortunately allows employers to comply with pension rules technically without adequately funding the pension promises they make." (Assistant Secretary Mark J. Warshawsky, Internal Revenue Service)

Text of Comments by American Academy of Actuaries on Proposed SEC Exec Comp Disclosure Rules (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "[T]he increase in the value of existing DC balances or DB accrued benefits due to the passage of time should not be included as current compensation because the increase in value has little relationship to the decisions/actions taken by the company's compensation committee in the current year ..." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide for Human Resources and Employment Law (PDF)
8 pages; April 25, 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 ..." (Hewitt)

U.S. Chamber Study Finds Employee Benefit Costs Consume 40 Percent of Payroll Expenses
Excerpt: "Benefit costs, as a percentage of payroll costs, have increased on average close to 1 percent each year since 2000." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Overview: DOL Publishes Updated Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program and PT Exemption (PDF)
Excerpt: "The VFC Program now explicitly provides relief from civil penalties imposed under ERISA section 502(i). ERISA section 502(i) permits the DOL to assess a civil penalty on prohibited transactions in connection with welfare plans and nonqualified pension plans.... Although the 502(i) penalty is infrequently imposed, relief from the penalty is at least a tangible benefit for welfare plan fiduciaries of correction through the VFC Program." (Groom Law Group)

Online Year 2006 ERISA Reporting Calendars
Excerpt: "Plan administrators of single and multiemployer pension and welfare benefit plans can click ... to access concise information on where, when and how to file annual and special reports with the DOL, IRS and PBGC, with links to relevant forms and information at the agency sites." (Watson Wyatt)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Cafeteria and HSA Update Workshop
in Massachusetts on June 26, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Personal Health Records--A New Employee Benefit
Nationwide on May 2, 2006
presented by MediKeeper


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

IRS Names New Members to TE/GE Advisory Group
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))

New E-learning Courses Help Staff Get Up to Speed
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Scholarship Available for New York State Students, Recent Graduates
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Citigroup and CitiStreet in HSA Alliance
(CitiStreet)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401K Specialist
for AIG SunAmerica
in CA

Defined Contribution Operations Manager
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in NJ

Paralegal Associate
for PreferredOne
in MN

Client Services Consultant
for July Business Services
in TX

Retirement Plan Administrator
for July Business Services
in TX

Relationship Managers
for John Mulligan & Associates, Inc.
in FL, NY, TX




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

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