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May 1, 2006
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Senate to Delay Vote on Association Health Plan Bill
Excerpt: "Senate Republicans said that they likely will have to delay 'Health Week'-- during which they plan to hold votes on medical malpractice and association health plan legislation-- from May 1 until at least May 8 ..." (

Battle Over Association Health Plans Gets Intense
Excerpt: "With insurance industry stakeholders on both sides of the issue, the fate of legislation scheduled to reach the Senate floor the week of May 1 that would create association health plans remains unclear." (National Underwriter; one-time registration required)

Senate Considers Health Care Bill for Small Businesses
Excerpt: "President Bush and the U.S. House have long advocated legislation to allow associations to offer health coverage to their small business members. But the legislation has always stalled in the Senate. Now the Senate is scheduled to take up the issue again. Julie Rovner reports." (National Public Radio)

Three Groups Launch Ad Campaign Against Association Health Plan Bill
Excerpt: "AARP, the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society have launched an advertising campaign in opposition to a bill (S 1955) that would allow small businesses to form association health plans under certain conditions..." (

Disability Plan Need Not Provide Claimant 180 Days to File Mandatory Second Appeal
Excerpt: "[T]he Eighth Circuit reviewed the DOL's claims regulations for disability and other non-health claims and noted that they require at least 180 days after an adverse benefits determination for claimants to file an administrative appeal. The regulations also permit plans to mandate a second appeal before a claimant may sue but do not specify the time period for a second appeal." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Smaller Firms in Vanguard of Flex Practices
Excerpt: "Workers at small companies enjoy greater access to a 'culture of flexibility,' meaning that supervisors are more supportive and understanding when work/life issues emerge." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Overview: California Legislative Office Recommends State Pre-Fund Retiree Health Care (PDF)
At p. 2 of 6-page newsletter. Excerpt: "[T]he California Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) ... suggested partially pre-funding the benefits by initially paying at least the normal costs each year (about $1 billion more than the pay-as-you-go approach)." (Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company)

Cash-Strapped Governments Turn Own Workers Over to Public Health Assistance Programs
Excerpt: "Strapped for cash, many states are reducing their own employees' access to health benefits by relegating them to part-time or temporary status, or increasing their contributions to a point where they sometimes become unaffordable." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Sixth Circuit Examines Plan Language Defining What Children Constitute Eligible Dependents
Excerpt: "This case addressed whether an employee's child was an eligible dependent under an ERISA health plan. Under the plan, 'eligible dependents' included children who were unmarried, had not reached their 19th birthday, and were 'primarily dependent' on the employee for support and maintenance." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Disease Management: Is It Worth It?
Excerpt: "Health plan leaders, CMS officials, and others are betting the farm on DM programs. An estimated $1.5 billion will be spent on DM this year, up from $78 million a decade ago..." (Managed Care magazine)

Health Insurance Inflation Is Still Well Above Overall Consumer Index
Excerpt: "According to a Morgan Stanley Managed Care Survey, the average 2005 renewal increase was 14.8 percent.... [T]he consumer price index in ... 2005 was 3.4 percent." (Columbus Business First via; one-time registration required)

Loss of Competition Is Seen in Health Insurance Industry
Excerpt: "Federal investigators have found that a handful of companies account for a growing share of the health insurance policies sold to small businesses in most states, leaving consumers with fewer options and higher costs." (New York Times; one-time registration required)

Massachusetts Health Plan Gives Romney a Healthy Boost Politically
Excerpt: "Romney remarked, 'I wish I were going to be governor the next five years to see it through,' but he has made the decision to step down at the end of this year and is preparing to seek the presidency." (Washington Post; one-time registration required)

New Organization to Lobby for Legislation to Vest Retiree Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Our Mission: To pursue a legislative remedy for the court battle won by Corporate America: Pass HR1322, The Emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act, the bill that makes it illegal to take away promised Healthcare benefits from Retirees who EARNED them." (

Consumer-Driven Health Plans: Insurers Still Awaiting 'Wave of the Future'
Excerpt: "Enrollment in such plans remains anemic. But there's no shortage of industry players who say it's only a matter of time before the plans catch on with employees." (New Mexico Business Weekly via; one-time registration required)

Debating the Impact of High-Deductible Health Plans
Excerpt: "Proponents of these plans argue that they give you an incentive not to use health care you don't really need and to shop carefully for the care you do need. This newfound cost-consciousness, the thinking goes, puts downward pressure on prices throughout the system. The theory seems to make sense. It's the reality that's a problem." (Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Increasingly Popular HSAs Help Taxpayers Gain Control of Health Care Costs
Excerpt: "Early evidence shows signs of success on every front for HSAs coupled with high-deductible health care options. Nearly one-third of enrollees did not previously have health insurance. And on the cost front, premiums for high-deductible plans increased an average of only 2.8 percent from 2004 to 2005." (

EBRI Official Says Current Crop of Consumer-Directed Plans More 'Lite' Than 'Heavy'
Excerpt: "If savings don't materialize, you'll have a backlash driven by employers. At that point, we'll see whether the kind of information needed to design benefits to provide real consumerism is available.... Right now we have consumer-driven lite. People are being given some decision making, but not a whole lot, and certainly not what's possible." (Managed Care magazine)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

UnitedHealth CEO Discusses Stock Options Cache
Excerpt: "UnitedHealth Group Inc. chief William McGuire defended his billion-dollar stock option compensation on Sunday, saying his pay has not come at the expense of affordable health care." (AP via Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Social Security, Medicare Due for Checkup
Excerpt: "... the debate was certain to be revived after the trustees of Social Security and Medicare provided their annual update Monday of the financial health of the government's two biggest benefit programs.... Analysts said they expect any date changes in this year's report to be small, with the message unchanged: Both programs face massive funding shortfalls ..." (AP via Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Stock Options Odyssey: Silicon Valley Still Exists
Excerpt: "In defiance of the high-tech lobbyists, accounting regulators determined in 2004 that options, like any other form of compensation, should be reported as a cost.... [I]t turns out that companies can report options transparently and still sustain that fizzy, go-getting culture. But this makes it all the more infuriating that the transparency remains imperfect." (Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2006 NIPA Annual Forum & Expo
in California on May 7, 2006
presented by National Institute of Pension Administrators

FASB Exposure Draft - How It Affects You
Nationwide on May 4, 2006
presented by Buck Consultants

New! Fundamentals of 401(k) and Other Qualified Plans
in Massachusetts on June 7, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Watson Wyatt Sharply Critical of New DOE Policy Discontinuing Contractor Reimbursement for Pensions
(Watson Wyatt)

Still River Announces Monte Carlo Model for Retirement Income Planning
(Still River Retirement Planning Software, Inc.)

Skoglund & Associates Rolls Out Simplified EnrollmentTM
(Skoglund & Associates)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Benefits Professionals
for New York University
in NY

Benefits Administrator
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

Client Relationship Manager
for TPA Firm in Southeastern MI
in MI

Registered Sales Director-Core Markets
for Wachovia
in NJ

Assistant General Counsel -- ERISA
for Citigroup Inc.
in NY

Director - Licensee Health and Welfare Plan
for McDonald's Corporation
in IL

Retirement Plan Processing Supervisor
for Alliance Benefit Group of New England
in NH

Actuarial Analyst
for TPA located
in OH

Implementation Project Manager
for CitiStreet
in MA

Pension Analyst
for CitiStreet
in MA

Institutional Sales Rep
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Institutional Sales Rep
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Corporate Associates
for Steiker, Fischer, Edwards & Greenapple, PC.
in RI

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.