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June 21, 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)

CalPERS Rejects Increase in Health Insurance Copayments
Excerpt: "Bowing to pressure from labor leaders, a key CalPERS committee voted Tuesday to accept a steeper increase in premiums rather than continue shifting more of the cost of health care to public employees. Much of the average 11.6 percent increase in 2007 HMO premiums will be shouldered by taxpayers who fund public agencies." (Sacramento Bee)

NY Senate Majority Leader Says Senate Will Not Impose Assessments on Employers for Health Insurance
Excerpt: "The bill, which has strong backing from the Working Families Party and labor unions, would impose a $3-an-hour, per-employee assessment on companies employing more than 100 workers. The money would go into a special fund to pay for employees' insurance. [State Senate Majority Leader Joseph] Bruno said the state has an obvious problem with 2.7 million citizens without health care coverage, but he said the Senate is wary of a response that would harm economic development in the state." (The Business Review via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

San Francisco Divided Over Novel Healthcare Plan
Excerpt: "Critical legislation requiring private employers to participate -- strongly opposed by many in the business community -- will be introduced [Wednesday, June 21] before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Despite remaining hurdles, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom lauded the plan as a national model." (Los Angeles Times via BCBSHealthIssues.com)

San Francisco Plans Health Care Coverage for the Uninsured; Employers Would Need to Contribute
Excerpt: "A legislative part of the plan would require businesses and nonprofit groups with more than 20 employees to contribute $40 million." (New York Times; one-time registration required)

Writing for Open Enrollment
Excerpt: "[I]t's in the best interests of everyone involved-- employees, the company and HR -- to ensure that benefits enrollment information is written and presented in a manner that is clear, straightforward and authoritative. If it is not and enrollment bogs down, organizations can lose time and productivity and may experience decreases in morale.... [T]here are four key things employees want-- and need-- to know about their health plan options during open enrollment ..." (HRMagazine)

Dads Look for Work-Life Balance
Excerpt: "About 44% of working dads are willing to accept a pay cut to spend more time with their children. Indeed, 16% would take a pay decrease of 5% or more, reveals a recent CareerBuilder.com survey." (BenefitNews.com)

Telecommuting and Its Effect on State Income Taxes
Originally published March 2006. Excerpt: "Even though statistics show that only approximately 5% of Americans work exclusively at home, the number of Americans telecommuting for a certain portion of their 'normal workweek' is growing dramatically. The impact of telecommuting on state income taxation should be addressed and analyzed." (The CPA Journal)

De Minimis Fringe Benefit Rules: Current Guidance and Tax Implications
Originally published April 2006. Excerpt: "The de minimis fringe benefit is a popular employer-provided fringe benefit. Treasury Regulations section 1.132-6(e)(1) gives numerous examples of allowable de minimis fringe benefits, including the following: ..." (The CPA Journal)

Trends in Manufacturer Prices of Pres.cription Drugs Used by Older Americans
Excerpt: "These AARP Public Policy Institute reports present the results of studies of changes in manufacturers' pres.cription drug list prices (i.e., the prices set by drug manufacturers to charge wholesalers and other direct purchasers for drug products) for roughly 200 brand name and 75 generic pres.cription drugs most widely used by Americans age 50+." (AARP)

Workers Still Not Ready for Consumer-Driven Health Programs, Survey Indicates
Excerpt: "Great-West Healthcare's 'Consumer Attitudes Toward Health Care' survey ... shows that workers do not have the knowledge necessary to navigate a CDH plan." (BenefitNews.com)

Trends in State Mandated Benefits, 2006 (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Although there was only a handful of state mandates in the 1960s, CAHI's most recent report, 'Health Insurance Mandates in the States, 2006,' has identified 1,843 nationwide.... The purpose of this short report is to periodically identify ... which state mandates are growing in popularity among state legislators and in which states." (Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Opinion: HSAs-- Shop While You Drop
Excerpt: "HSAs are tax sheltered savings accounts coupled with high-deductible health insurance policies, and they have serious drawbacks. For many health consumers, HSAs will increase out-of-pocket costs-- and complexity. And here's what they won't do: They won't bring down health care costs and they won't make a dent in the number of Americans without health insurance. This resource center pulls together a range of materials looking at the limitations of Health Savings Accounts." (Families USA)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Intermediate Sanctions and Tax-Exempt Organizations
Excerpt: "The IRS has stepped up its scrutiny of compensation packages and employee benefits in tax-exempt organizations and is using IRC section 4958 to sanction 'disqualified persons' and organizational managers, rather than the organizations, for excess-benefit transactions.... This article outlines how IRC section 4958 works, describes the potential pitfalls for exempt organizations, and discusses recent developments." (The CPA Journal)

CCA Strategies Offers Compromise for FASB Consideration
Excerpt: "As the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) begins to analyze the comments it received regarding its first step towards overhauling postretirement benefit accounting, CCA Strategies offers an approach that balances FASB's short-term objective with the primary concerns raised about its two-step approach to comprehensive reform." (CCA Strategies)

DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases 'Employer Costs for Employee Compensation' Report
Excerpt from press release: 'Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $26.86 per hour worked in March 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported [Wednesday June 21]. Wages and salaries, which averaged $18.82, accounted for 70.1 percent of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $8.04, accounted for the remaining 29.9 percent." (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor)

Third-Party Plan Administrators and SAS 70
Originally published February 2006. Excerpt: "Since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOA), many plan sponsors have required that their third-party plan administrators, custodians, and corporate trustees demonstrate that they have adequate controls and safeguards. An independent Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) 70 audit report is ... a way for plan sponsors to monitor the delegation of authority and responsibility." (The CPA Journal)

Investigations into Stock Options Spur Companies to Review Their Own Practices (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Backdating consists of targeting the grant date of a stock option to correspond to a low point in the company's stock price so that the holder can obtain an increased profit when the option is exercised and the shares are sold at the prevailing market price. Although backdating is not per se illegal, it can violate accounting rules and SEC disclosure regulations, as well as create tax problems." (Gardner Carton & Douglas)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Introduction to Retirement Plans - Webcast
Nationwide on October 30, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

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)

Plan Amendment Update - Webcast
Nationwide on July 25, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Third Quarter 2006 Update - Webcast
Nationwide on August 10, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Third Quarter 2006 Update - Webcast
Nationwide on August 11, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Update to IRS Correction Programs (EPCRS) - Webcast
Nationwide on June 27, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Update to IRS Correction Programs (EPCRS) - Webcast
Nationwide on June 29, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Update to IRS Correction Programs (EPCRS) - Webcast
Nationwide on July 26, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

Webcast: The Future of Employee Benefits Delivery: Consumerism Changes Everything
Nationwide on June 21, 2006
presented by Authoria, Inc.

What's Your Problem? - Compliance Problems Webcast
Nationwide on September 19, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman

What's Your Problem? - Compliance Problems Webcast
Nationwide on November 1, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

DOE Withdraws Defined Benefit Pension Preclusion Under Pressure From Employers and Congress
(ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee))

Actuaries Commend DOE's Suspension of Controversial Pension Policy for Contractors
(American Academy of Actuaries)

A Better 'Mouse Trap' for 401(k) Participants and Plan Sponsors
(J.W. Thompson Investments)

TransitCenter Introduces New TransitChek Card to Pay for Commuting Tax-Free
(TransitCenter)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Client Relationship Manager
for The Douglas Group
in CA, FL, IL, NJ, NY, PA

Plan Document Specialist
for Louis Kravitz & Associates in Encino, CA
in CA

401 (k) Plan Administrator
for Polycomp Administrative Services, Woodland Hills (LA)
in CA

Benefits & Retirement Specialist
for Aerojet - Sacramento
in CA

Product Development Manager
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in NJ




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