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May 11, 2006
Today's sponsor: ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

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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)

Democrats Link Insurance Bill to More Abortions
Excerpt: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday said the Republican health bill before the chamber would eliminate state health care guarantees, thereby jeopardizing women's access to contraception and perhaps resulting in more abortions." (The Washington Times)

Association Health Plan Bill Advances in Senate; Democrats Say They Have Not Ruled Out a Filibuster
Excerpt: "The bill would allow small businesses and trade associations to form association health plans across state lines. Under the bill, insurers would be permitted to sell plans to businesses and individuals that do not meet current state benefits requirements." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Maternity Benefits Vary Greatly Among European Countries
Excerpt: "The UK and Ireland have the lowest levels of statutory maternity leave pay in Western Europe, according to a Mercer Human Resource Consulting study. According to a Mercer news release, Denmark and Norway have the highest level of maternity benefits, more than twice as generous as those in the UK." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

HIPAA Privacy Investigations Are Becoming Much More Aggressive
Excerpt: "Privacy investigations are taking some twists and turns, privacy officers say. They are evolving both inside health systems and in terms of the way the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) interacts with covered entities (CEs)." (REPORT ON PATIENT PRIVACY via AISHealth.com)

Medication Therapy Management: The Next Frontier for Specialty Pharmacy
Excerpt: "Pres.cription benefit management initiatives have clearly helped to stem escalating pharmacy cost trends. However, they address only indirectly the underlying issues of quality and appropriateness of many therapies, especially with respect to specialty pharmacy (SP). Clinical pharmacists working in managed care settings are pursuing new approaches to incorporate medication therapy management (MTM) into their programs." (SPECIALTY PHARMACY NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Opinion: Consumer-Directed Healthcare -- Cost Shift or Cost Reduction?
Excerpt: "The spiraling increase in healthcare spending will be arrested when employers and consumers are much better-informed purchasers of healthcare, and when healthcare providers are much better-informed dispensers of care. That is to say, the most effective antidote to soaring healthcare spending is better and more available information--information that the Byzantine structure of the healthcare industry prevents both purchasers and suppliers from using ...." (HealthLeaders News)

Makers of Cancer Drugs Consider Cost-Containment Measures Amid Public 'Outcry'
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal [yesterday] examined how some pharma.ceutical companies are concerned that the high prices of new cancer medications will 'spark the kind of patient outrage that high AIDS-drug prices unleashed more than a decade ago.' According to the Journal, the prices of cancer medications have 'skyrocketed' in recent years, and employers and private health insurers often require patients to cover 10% to 50% of the cost, which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Health Plans Target Physicians and Patients Who Still Shun Generic Drugs
Excerpt: "While generic drug usage has soared in recent years, lingering resistance on the part of patients and physicians still prevent health plans from tapping the full potential of the low-cost products, according to a top executive at Caremark Rx, Inc." (Drug Benefit News via AISHealth.com)

RPC Policy Paper: Health Savings Accounts-- Defying Critics' Dire Expectations (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "As the Senate attempts to move to legislation designed to reduce the dramatically increasing cost of quality health care, advocates would do well to remember that one Republican-backed innovation-- health savings accounts-- is already proving its worth in the marketplace." (U.S. Senate, Republican Policy Committee)

Congressional Testimony: Consumer Information on Health Care Cost and Quality
Statement of Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., President, Center for Studying Health System Change, before the Congress of the United States Joint Economic Committee May 10, 2006, hearing on 'The Next Generation of Health Information Tools for Consumers" (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Hearing Testimony: Stimulating the Emergence of a 60 Mile Per Gallon American Health Care System (PDF)
16 pages. Excerpt: "Employers, Unions, Insurers, and Consumer Organizations Could Greatly Improve Health Insurance Affordability and Quality via Improved Physician Performance Transparency; Access to Beneficiary-Anonymized CMS Claims Data is Pivotal -- Testimony of Arnold Milstein MD, MPH House/Senate Joint Economic Committee on May 10, 2006" (U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee)

Employee Health Benefit Plans Are Fertile Ground for Regulatory Activity
Excerpt: "Audits by the Department of Labor ..., complicated Medicare Part D regulations, a proposed guidance from the federal government on Health Savings Accounts ..., and state action in the area of 'Fair Share' legislation are all keeping the regulatory environment in the area of employee benefits active, said Kathryn Bakich, National Director of Healthcare Compliance for The Segal Company, during her presentation at the 2006 World at Work Total Rewards Conference in Anaheim, California." (Business & Legal Reports, Inc.)

Vermont Lawmakers Approve Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "The Vermont Legislature [yesterday] gave final approval to health care reform legislation that would dramatically increase the number of people with coverage." (Business Insurance)

eHealthInsurance.com Publishes Report of 2005 Experience with Health Savings Account Users (PDF)
23 pages. Excerpt: "This report was created [to] identify and compare key demographics of HSA-eligible health insurance plan purchasers; To present and compare the monthly premiums for HSA-eligible health insurance plans; To outline the health insurance benefit levels included in the HSA-eligible plans purchased by consumers from January 1 through December 31, 2005 ..." (eHealthInsurance)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

SPD Must Describe Procedures for Proving Benefit Entitlement, According to 2nd Circuit
Excerpt: "If a multiemployer plan has a policy requiring an employee to prove entitlement to benefits in a situation where an employer may have underreported covered employment, then that policy must be stated in the plan's summary plan description, according to a 2nd Circuit decision vacating a district court decision on that issue. [Wilkins v. Mason Tenders District Council Pension Fund, 05-2303-cv, 4/21/06]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Survey Report: 2006 HR Practices in Executive-Level Compensation (PDF)
39 pages. Excerpt: "HR professionals were asked questions about general compensation plans of employees who fit under the category of executives and were requested not to include compensation practices for the CEO/ president/owner. The purpose of this delineation was to understand the components of pay philosophies for executives who tend to be distinct both from rank-and-file employees and the organization's top leader." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Text of Small Correction to Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "On page 20283, in the Table, under the column, '1st day' in the first entry, '14/14/01' should read '4/14/01'." (Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Pension Plan 5500 Filing Web Seminar
Nationwide on June 6, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Employers Using Web to Meet Increasing Pension Administration Demands
(Watson Wyatt)

California Giving Working Moms Needed Time With Families
(Paid Family Leave Coalition)

The Culture of Overwork is Global
(Alfred P. Sloan Foundation)

Acclamation Systems Selects Evolution Benefits As Their Card Technology Partner
(Evolution Benefits)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Divisional Vice President- Western Region Sales
for Transamerica
in CA

Compliance Specialist
for A market leader in the Retirement Industry
in GA

Retirement Plan Specialist
for Tax Favored Benefits, Inc.
in KS, MO

Conversion / Implementation Specialist
for A market leader in the Retirement Industry
in GA

Client Services Manager
for A market leader in the Retirement Industry
in ANY STATE

Senior Benefits Consultant, Health and Welfare
for Top-Tier Global Human Resources Consulting Firm
in NY

Plan Enhancement Specialist
for A market leader in the Retirement Industry
in ANY STATE

Retirement Plan Administrator
for PEN-CAL Administrators, Inc.
in CA

401(k)/Pension Administrator
for Pension Consulting and Administration Firm
in NY




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