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May 4, 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)

U.S. House Bill Would Strengthen Health Savings Account Provisions
Excerpt: "A Web site statement [says] that Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor's (R-Virginia) Tax-Free Health Savings Act (HR 5262) is designed to make HSAs more affordable and to increase the benefits they offer." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Providers Are Not Ready for Consumer-Directed Health Plans
Excerpt: "Consumer-directed health (CDH) plans aren't yet on the radar screen for most health care providers. However, industry observers tell ICDC that shifting more financial responsibility to patients will force hospitals, physician offices and other providers to modify their business practices." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Medicare: Communications to Beneficiaries on Pres.cription Drug Benefit Could Be Improved
Excerpt: "GAO was asked to review the quality of CMS's communications on the Part D benefit. GAO examined 70 CMS publications to select 6 documents for review and contracted with the American Institutes for Research to evaluate the clarity of these texts; made 500 calls to the 1-800-MEDICARE help line; and contracted with the Nielsen Norman Group to evaluate the usability of the Medicare Web site. [Highlights of the report are at http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d06654high.pdf.]" (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

What's New in the World of Welfare Plans? (PDF)
58 pages. Presentation presented at the Dallas Bar Association Employee Benefits Section Meeting on May 3, 2006. (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Survey Says HIPAA Compliance Drops and Patient Concerns Grow
Excerpt: "Fewer hospitals and health care facilities are complying with federal laws to protect patient privacy, and more patients are refusing to sign forms to release health information, according to a survey by the American Health Information Management Association." (eWEEK.com)

Employers Focus on Chronic Ailments -- Incentive Programs Aim to Control Costs
Excerpt: "Hoping to slow rising healthcare costs, a small but growing number of employers are reducing or eliminating drug copayments for workers with chronic ailments, offering medical screenings at work, and helping employees with catastrophic diseases access clinical trials." (The Boston Globe)

Kansas City Group Staffs Medical ID Card Task Force
Excerpt: "A state commission formed to contain health care costs in Kansas has appointed a task force to develop statewide standards for electronic health insurance ID cards." (Kansas City Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Doctors Without Managed Care Plans Rises, According to Study
Excerpt: "The proportion of physicians who don't participate in managed care plans is rising in a development that may signal a trend toward higher patient costs and less access to doctors, a study to be released [today] said." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Some Health Plans and Hospitals See Lower Medical Costs and Hospital Utilization
Excerpt: "Some publicly traded health insurers are reporting continuing declines in medical cost trends, driven by flat to negative hospital utilization compared with that seen in the previous year." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via AISHealth.com)

No Exodus: Physicians and Managed Care Networks
Excerpt: "While physicians have not left managed care networks in large numbers, [a] small but statistically significant increase could signal a trend toward greater out-of-pocket costs for patients and a decline in patient access to physicians." (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Opinion: Massachusetts Health Reform -- What the Doctor Ordered
Excerpt: "Pundits wasted no time weighing in when Massachusetts' comprehensive health reform was introduced. Most focused on two small but controversial provisions: a requirement that all residents carry health insurance, and a requirement that some non-insuring employers kick in an annual fee to the state's fund for uncompensated medical care. In focusing on these two 'trees,' most commentators missed the 'forest:' ...." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

PBMs Win Another Battle but the War Is Not Over (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "In a positive decision for the pharmacy benefit management industry, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently held that a pharmacy benefits manager ('PBM') is not a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act of 1974 ('ERISA'). Mulder v. PCS Health Systems Inc., Civil Action No. 98-1003 (WGB), unpublished (D.N.J. April 18, 2006)." (Powell Goldstein LLP)

Opinion: Medicare Part D -- D for Doomed?
Excerpt: "New drug coverage plans cost more money and serve fewer patients than the government expected. What if things get worse? Two scenarios for disaster." (Pharma.ceutical Executive)

Avian Flu-- A Preparedness Primer (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This article approaches avian flu preparedness from two perspectives. First it looks at three factors that will help us prepare for the flu and prevent its spread. Second, it examines some factors that will make preparedness a challenge." (Buck Consultants)

Employers to Pay Big Role in Flu Defense Plans
Excerpt: "Employers would be among the front line troops under the Bush administration's plan to defend against an influenza epidemic. The plan, released Wednesday, builds on ideas broached late last year by the federal government." (Business Insurance)

New Female Workforce Expectations Loom Large
Excerpt: "Old mindsets won't allow organizations to retain talented women, experts predict. As the millennial children and GenXers opt out to find a more meaningful way of life and the older generation retires or prepares to retire, a rising number of women executives opt out to start their own companies." (Employee Benefit News)

Work-Life Benefit Reach
Excerpt: "A new international survey focusing on work-life benefits has uncovered what one researcher calls a policy failure in both developing and industrialized nations." (Employee Benefit News)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Examples for Not-for-Profit Organizations and Others that Do Not Report Other Comprehensive Income (PDF)
16 pages. Excerpt: "The FASB staff has prepared the ... examples to assist the readers of FASB proposed Statement, Employers' Accounting for Defined Benefit Pension and Other Postretirement Plans, in understanding how the guidance contained in the proposed Statement would be applied by not-for-profit organizations." (Financial Accounting Standards Board)

Domestic Partner Benefits Continue to Spread, Particularly Among Large Companies
Excerpt: "EBN Associate Editor Leah Carlson Shepherd recently spoke with Stephen Hyland, an attorney at the New Jersey law firm Hill Wallack and the author of 'New Jersey Domestic Partners: A Legal Guide' (Rutgers University Press, 2005)." (Employee Benefit News)

PPT Presentation: Equity Compensation Litigation & Enforcement Issues
The presentation was presented at the NCEO/Beyster Institute's 2006 Employee Ownership Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota on April 27, 2006. (Janich Law Group)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Labor Department Sponsors Sacramento Workshops on Federal Pension Law
in California on May 16, 2006
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Navigating Form 5500-- A Guided Tour for Health & Welfare Plan Sponsors and TPAs
Nationwide on June 1, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

ASPPA is Now Accepting Nominations for the 2006 Harry T. Eidson Founders Award
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Administrators
for Parker White Consultants, Inc.
in NY

Senior Pension Administrator/Consultant
for Chambers Benefit Group, APC
in NM

401k / DC Administrator
for Sentinel Benefits Group
in CT, MA, RI

Trading Associate
for Sentinel Benefits Group
in MA

Retirement Plan Sales Representative
for Tofias PC
in MA

Health & Welfare Benefits Analyst
for ACS
in NJ

Account Specialist I
for TD Banknorth
in CT

Account Executive
for Transamerica
in FL

401(k) / Defined Contribution Administrator
for Integrated Pension Design, Inc.
in NY

Sr. Relationship Manager
for Comerica
in MI

Relationship Manager
for Comerica
in MI

Pension Administrator
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Retirement Plan Administration Specialist
for Consulting Actuaries Incorporated
in NJ

Internal Wholesaler/Retirement Plan Sales Associate, #0600839
for John Hancock
in IL




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