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May 30, 2006
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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)

Overview: Proposed Regulations on Dependent Care Expenses: Some Things Old, Some Things New
Excerpt: "Anyone who works with DCAPs should breathe a sigh of relief at finally being able to consult updated regulations. Although many of the changes simply incorporate prior legislation, guidance, and informal comments, the regulations provide much-needed certainty on a variety of issues. Fortunately, the new rules and clarifications are generally more expansive than the old regulations -- they also include many helpful examples." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Idaho Insurance Department Can Regulate MEWA Even Without Specific Language in Statute
Excerpt: "We don't see many reported cases that consider MEWA issues, especially in the PEO context. The case stands for two important points: ERISA (not state law) controls whether an entity is a MEWA, and state insurance law might apply to a MEWA even if the state law doesn't specifically address MEWAs." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: IRS Update of the Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide for 2006
Excerpt: "While the guide is not an officially approved IRS document, it offers valuable insight into the IRS's positions regarding the taxation, withholding, and reporting requirements for certain employee fringe benefits. Employers seeking an official IRS publication on the tax treatment of a broader variety of fringe benefits (including, for example, cafeteria plans and HSAs) should consult IRS Publication 15-B (Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits) ...." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: Supreme Court Eases Enforcement of Health Plan Subrogation Provisions
Excerpt: "[A]lthough Sereboff adds to the calculus surrounding the meaning of 'equitable relief,' the reasoning of Great-West will continue to factor prominently into litigation brought under ERISA section 502(a)(3)." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

Issue Brief: High-Risk Health Insurance Pools (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "High-Risk Health Insurance Pools provides answers to key questions about high-risk pools, including who they help and how they are financed. The report also includes a list of questions consumers should ask if they are considering joining a high-risk pool, as well as a checklist for advocates." (Families USA Foundation)

Opinion: With Vermont, Another State Universal Health Care Law, Another ERISA Preemption Analysis
Excerpt: "Like Massachusetts, Vermont ... just passed its own version of a nearly-universal health care insurance law. Vermont hopes to extend health insurance coverage to as many as 96% of its residents by 2010. .... Not surprisingly, I foresee some ERISA preemption issues with this law. Similar to the Massachusetts health care insurance legislation passed a couple of months ago, it appears that the part of the Vermont law which places a fee on employers who do not offer health insurance ...." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Audio Summery of Mercer's National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2005
Excerpt: "Nearly 3,000 employers participated in Mercer's 2005 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, now in its 20th year. .... You can view a 15-minute web presentation [at] covering the most important findings of Mercer's 2005 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, given by Blaine Bos, national spokesperson for the survey. Your computer needs to be equipped for sound." (Mercer Human Resource Consulting LLC and Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.; one-time registration required)

Health Plans with Higher Deductibles and a Savings Account on Rise
Excerpt: "In Michigan, General Motors Corp., Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Co. and most of the large auto suppliers are among those companies that now offer high-deductible plans paired with health savings accounts -- HSAs -- as an option to their workers." (Detroit Free Press)

Employers Reconsider Critical Illness Insurance for the Workplace (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "Critical illness insurance (CII) has been derided as little more than a repackaging of the cancer policies of the 1950s by those who recall the fear tactics inherent in its early marketing. But surprisingly, it has also been praised as the 'product-of-the-decade' by those who see its broad potential against the backdrop of widesweeping change impacting the world of employee benefits." (Aon Consulting)

Survey Shows Many Still Reel from Loss of Benefits in the Troubled Steel Industry
Excerpt: "The bankruptcies of steelmakers LTV Corp. and Bethlehem Steel, which employed thousands in Northwest Indiana mills, threw many people out of work. Now, a new survey tracks what happened to some of the roughly 200,000 retirees and their spouses who lost their health benefits in 2002 and 2003 as a result of those bankrup.tcy proceedings." (Indianapolis Star via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

With Expensing Implementation Not Far Away, Companies Must Settle on Valuation Method
Excerpt: "The two most common valuation models are the Black-Scholes model and the lattice, or binomial, model (see 'Valuation Models,' page 42). When the exposure draft first came out, says Paul Allen, director of Equity Award Services at Merrill Lynch, FASB expressed a preference for the lattice model, because it appeared to be the model that would be more accurate and complete." ( one-time registration required)

Plan Administrator Cannot Enforce SPD Terms that Are Not Accurate and Comprehensive
Excerpt: "We bring this case to your attention for two reasons. First, it reminds us that, because ERISA requires full disclosure in the SPD of any material terms that could affect benefits, most courts do not give weight to SPD disclaimers. Second, this case once again illustrates that courts will enforce the terms of even inadequate SPDs over inconsistent terms in the underlying plan document, if doing so will favor the participant." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: Prepare Now for Revamped SEC Executive Compensation Disclosure Requirements (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "On January 27, 2006, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed significant changes to the rules governing public company disclosure of executive and director compensation arrangements and related party transactions. While technical refinements to the proposed rules are anticipated, it is expected that final rules substantially similar to those proposed will be adopted, most likely by late summer or early fall, ...." (McDermott Will & Emery)

Aon's Quarterly Update on HR Regulatory News (PDF)
4 pages. (Aon Consulting)

Update on Social Security Mismatch Letters' Issue (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Many employers throughout the United States have received the now infamous 'mismatch letter' from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In essence, the letter advises that employees have a social security number (SSN) which does not match the information appearing in the SSA database. In most instances, the employee's name does not 'match' an otherwise valid SSN." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Employee Ownership Update for May 26: Option Backdating Becomes Major Concern
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses the stock option backdating controversy, in which companies backdated options to points when the stock price was at a low so executives could increase their gains when exercising the options. The SEC is investigating dozens of companies, and shareholder lawsuits are being filed. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Advanced IRA Seminar
in South Dakota on June 20, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Arkansas on June 21, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Kansas on June 21, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in North Dakota on June 21, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Oklahoma on June 21, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Advanced IRA Seminar
in Minnesota on June 22, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Kansas on June 20, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Texas on June 20, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Oklahoma on June 22, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Florida on June 22, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Beginner IRA Seminar
in Illinois on June 22, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Fundamentals of Employer Health Management
in Washington on June 9, 2006
presented by International Society of CEBS - Pacific NW Chapter

The Sereboff Case: Supreme Court Upholds Reimbursement Rights of ERISA Health Plans
Nationwide on June 13, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Webcast: Is the Massachusetts Health Plan a Model for the Nation?
Nationwide on May 26, 2006
presented by Kaiser Family Foundation

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Plan Administrator
for Third Party Administration Firm
in FL

Defined Contribution Administrator
for Pension Plan Professionals, Inc.
in FL

Actuarial Assistant
for Gucciardi Benefit Resources, a division of Summit Benefit & Actuarial Services, Inc.
in WI

401(k) Account Analyst
for BWD Group LLC
in NY

Financial Planners / Investment Specialists (3)
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in CA

Plan Administrator
for RSM McGladrey
in IL

Bilingual Communication Specialist
for MassMutual Financial Group

401(k)/Defined Contribution Administrator
for The Pension Service
in CT, MA, ME, NH

Sr. Manager Balance Forward
for TPA Firm

Systems Analyst
for Buck Consultants
in GA

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