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June 12, 2006
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Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.

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

Chart: Federal Bills Proposing Improvements to Health Savings Accounts -- Updated June 2, 2006
3 pages. The chart provides a brief summary of the provisions of each bill. (America's Health Insurance Plans via HealthDecisions.org)

Most Health Savings Accounts Are Staying Empty
Excerpt: "Many consumers simply aren't funding the health-savings accounts or HSAs linked to their high-deductible health insurance, say several new studies, calling into question whether the impact of so-called consumer-directed health plans is all it's cracked up to be." (San Francisco Business Times via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Overview: Health Savings Accounts Under the New Medicare Laws (PDF)
Excerpt: "Section 1201 of the Medicare Pres.cription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 ('MPDIMA'), enacted December 8, 2003, created Health Savings Accounts ('HSAs'), a new type of health care reimbursement account to be offered together with High Deductible Health Plans ('HDHPs')." (ALI-ABA; Free access to article for limited time)

Overview: New Proposed IRS Regulations on Dependent Care Expenses
Excerpt: "Employers may rely on these proposed regulations until final regulations are released and should review their programs to see if changes are needed. The IRS will accept comments on the rules until August 22, 2006." (CCA Strategies, LLC)

Overview: Clarification for Dependent Care Reimbursement Plans
Excerpt: "The IRS has recently issued proposed regulations (Proposed Treasury Regulations Sections 1.21-1, 1.21-2, 1.21-3, and 1.21-4, ...) shedding some light on what types of expenses can qualify as employment-related expenses for which an employee may obtain tax-free reimbursement under a dependent care reimbursement plan (officially known as a dependent care assistance program or 'DCAP' under section 129 of the Internal Revenue Code)." (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via BenefitsBlog.com)

More U.S. Workers Get Massage, Yoga on Company Time
Excerpt: "More companies are offering employees the on-site pleasures of massage and yoga, not just to make their staff happy but to be competitive and even boost the bottom line." (Reuters)

Overview: Medicare Posts Cost Data for Common Elective Procedures
Excerpt: "The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted to its Web site the costs Medicare pays hospitals for 30 common elective procedures and other hospital admissions. This is the first step in a Bush Administration initiative to make health care cost and quality information available to the public." (Deloitte's Washington Bulletin via BenefitsLink.com)

Web Site Would Let Massachusetts Consumers Compare Costs of Medical Operations
Excerpt: "Internet shoppers in Massachusetts could soon add chest X-rays, ultrasounds and tonsillectomies to their virtual shopping carts under a key provision of the state's ambitious new health care reform law. One of the goals of the new law is to drive down the cost of health care in part by arming consumers with the ability to compare prices on everything from asthma inhalers to Caesarean sections." (The Boston Globe)

Fed-Up Doctor Sidesteps Insurance Company Limits
Excerpt: "When Tufts Health Plan cut a patient's pres.cription for the sleep aid Lunesta from 30 pills to 10 pills a month, her physician, Dr. Stephen A. Hoffmann, decided to circumvent state regulations by writing a second pres.cription in the name of her husband so she could get 10 more pills per month." (The Boston Globe)

Wellness Pays As Health Costs Shift
Excerpt: "Pedometers, workouts and wellness points are the topics of casual lunchtime conversations at the DuPage Credit Union in Naperville now that the company offers a consumer-directed health insurance plan that rewards employees for healthy behavior, the company said." (Chicago Tribune via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Housing Fund Ceiling to Affect Companies in Guangzhou, China
Excerpt: "Employers in Guangzhou may need to ensure that their compensation and benefits packages remain competitive after a ceiling on housing funds goes into effect July 1, 2006." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

The Market for COLI -- Still Strong and Robust
Excerpt: "In view of expanded Internal Revenue Service restrictions on executive compensation plans, and still more action pending in Congress, advisors have good reason to question whether the current vehicle of choice for funding these plans -- corporate-owned life insurance -- will remain so." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Different Retaliation Claims Warrant Different Court Conclusions
Excerpt: "The US District Court for the District of Minnesota recently sent one retaliation claim to trial while granting summary judgment to the defendant in the other." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Third Circuit Issues Decision in Favor of Groom Client in Top Hat Plan Lawsuit
Excerpt: "The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently issued a decision that promises to be one of the leading cases on executive compensation arrangements commonly referred to as 'top hat' plans. In re IT Group, Inc. ___ F.3d ___, 2006 WL 1421016 (decided May 25, 2006)." (Groom Law Group)

Severance -- It's Not What It Used To Be
Excerpt: "This Commentary explains the new deferred compensation rules, provides a synopsis of Code § 409A's treatment of severance pay and what to be on the lookout for in crafting severance arrangements." (Thomas M. Greene, Esq. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. via BNA Tax Management)

SEC Chief to Push for Fuller Disclosure of Executive Stock Options
Excerpt: "Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox said he plans to force corporate boards to disclose more information about executive stock options after some companies backdated grants to increase their value." (Bloomberg News via The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Americans Living Abroad Face Higher U.S. Income Taxes
Excerpt: "The tax bill President Bush recently signed places a cap on the amount of housing allowances U.S. residents living abroad can receive tax-free from their employer. As a result of the change and others in the bill, many expatriates will pay more income tax to the U.S. Treasury in 2006 and thereafter." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

CalPERS Issues Request to Companies Concerning Stock Options
Excerpt: "The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) has sent a letter to 25 companies asking them to respond to questions about media allegations of stock option backdating practices." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Lifting the Lid: Threat of Selling Shares Can Force Change
Excerpt: "Large shareholders can bring about corporate governance reform by threatening to sell their stake in a company -- known as taking the 'Wall Street Walk' -- according to a university study, but others argue there are better ways to bring about change. .... [M]any view selling a large holding in a company as ineffective. CalPERS, the largest U.S. pension fund even has a policy against it." (Reuters via The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

The Briefing: Employee Benefits Developments -- May 2006 (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "A brief look at developments in Employee Benefits law for May 2006, including cases, rulings, opinions ...." (Hodgson Russ LLP)

The Next Options Scandal: How to Pay Executives Under the Table
Excerpt: "Executives and directors from at least 20 companies are under investigation for options timing by federal or state officials. But this scandal, coming on top of the long-running reluctance of firms to count options as a business expense, may broaden enough to raise questions about the use of executive options across corporate America." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

A Brookings Institution-New America Foundation Forum: Employment-Based Health Insurance: A Prominent Past, but Does it Have a Future?
in District of Columbia on June 16, 2006
presented by Brookings Institution


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Benefit Software Inc. Debuts Latest Version of eEnroll Online (tm)
(Target Marketing Solutions, Inc.)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Complex Claims Director
for AIG, Inc
in NY

Strategic Relationship Manager- Retirement Planning Services
for JPMorgan
in AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WV

Senior FASCore Service Delivery Associate
for Great-West Financial Services
in CO

Pension Administrator
for Jack A. Cross & Associates, Inc.
in CA

Pension Administrator
for Pension Administrator
in NJ

Manager, Benefits Administration
for Gevity
in FL

401(k) Defined Contribution Administrator
for The Heritage Group LLC
in NY




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