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June 29, 2006
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Massachusetts Businesses Await Rules for Avoiding Health Care Levy
Excerpt: "State officials are expected to decide by as early as tomorrow the minimum amount businesses must pay for employees' healthcare to avoid the $295 per worker annual fee that is a key component of healthcare reform." (The Boston Globe)

Employers Reducing Retiree Health Benefits, Watson Wyatt Study Shows
Excerpt: "Of 163 companies responding to the Washington-based consultant's recent poll, over the next five years 6% plan to eliminate retiree health benefits for current post-65 retirees and 14% plan to cut those benefits for their future post-65 retirees." (Business Insurance)

Consumers Union Statement for the Record -- Hearing on Health Savings Accounts, June 28, 2006 (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "Consumers Union, the independent non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, opposes more public expenditure of limited tax dollars on health savings accounts (HSAs). [They] believe that HSAs are harmful from a societal point of view and to those who most need helpwith health care expenses." (Consumers Union)

Another Question is Answered in the Who's the Employer Q&A Column
Do the controlled group and common control rules only apply to retirement plans? What about medical plans? For example, a husband and wife own both an S corp and a C corp; the C corp wants to offer only its employees (husband and wife) a medical plan. Is this allowed under the Internal Revenue Code? (BenefitsLink.com)

Overview: IRS Proposed Dependent Care Regulations
Excerpt: "The Internal Revenue Service ('IRS') recently published proposed regulations concerning eligible expenses under dependent care assistance programs ('DCAPs'), including dependent care flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and the dependent care tax credit." (Warner Norcross & Judd LLP)

Hewlett-Packard Downshifts Telecommuting for Employees
Excerpt: "HP has been known as a leader when it comes to flexible work policies. The company, based in Palo Alto, California, has a total of about 150,000 workers worldwide. About 11,400 employees currently telecommute; most of them are based in the U.S." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Overview: Supreme Court Charts Path to Recovery Under Welfare Plan Reimbursement Provisions
Excerpt: "Some plans (especially older ones) contain only subrogation language, rather than explicit language obligating the participant who recovers from a third party to reimburse the plan. Such plans will require a significant update. At the other extreme, some sponsors will want to delete 'state of the art' language derived from the Knudson decision's focus on equitable restitution-- a theory the Court now appears to view as a blind alley." (Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP)

New Medication Reconciliation Rule Boosts Hospitals' Use of Insurers' Online Data
Excerpt: "A new requirement for hospitals to obtain patients' complete medication records is boosting interest in some insurers' electronic prescribing systems, electronic health record (EHR) systems and other portals that make pharmacy data available to providers." (Managed Care Week via AISHealth.com)

Opinion: Health Care Spending -- What the Future Will Look Like (PDF)
20 pages. Excerpt: "European critics of the U.S. health care system often focus on the private provision of health care and health insurance. Yet the more important difference between the United States and other developed countries is the failure to control government spending. Other countries employ global budgets and control access to expensive drugs and new technology. The United States, by contrast, has very meager spending controls." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Massachusetts Legislature Close to Passing Landmark Paid Family Leave Bill
Excerpt: "Following on the heels of its landmark health care law, the Massachusetts legislature is crafting a measure that would provide the most generous paid family leave benefit in the country. As introduced, the bill (S. 2535), sponsored by Senate President Robert Travaglini (D-Boston), would give up to 12 weeks of fully paid family and medical leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act." (HR Policy Association)

Generic Drug Mail Service May Not Save as Much as We've Been Led to Believe (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on the practice of Pharmacy Benefit Managers' (PBMs) mail services charging drugplan sponsors considerably higher prices for generic drugs, ...., compared to what individuals may pay for the same drugs purchased at someretail pharmacies for cash." (Buck Consultants)

Survey Says MCOs Limit Specialty Pharmacy Services
Excerpt: "A survey of medical directors at managed care organizations (MCOs) representing approximately 30 million U.S. lives reveals that specialty pharmacy cost management is a high priority for 68% of those plans, many of which are already taking steps to control their costs." (SPECIALTY PHARMACY NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Opinion: What's Fair about Fair Share? Wal-Mart Bills Are Growing in Popularity and Intrusiveness (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "[The Council says that i]t is time for states to recognize that private sector business isn't responsible for the uninsured, the cost of health insurance is. And that the states have played a large role in driving up those costs. Address that problem, and states will actually be doing something about the problem of the uninsured." (The Council for Affordable Health Insurance)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Defined Contribution-Based Purchasing Platform Gives Opportunity to Maximize Retirement Savings (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "One idea that is growing in popularity in the marketplace is a benefits purchasing platform that allows employees to allocate retirement savings among different retirement benefits, including retirement savings, retiree health care, life insurance, and long-term care." (HR Policy Association)

Recent Appeals Court Decision Instructs Plan Administrators How (Not) to Handle Benefit Claims (PDF)
Pages 1-3 of 6 pages. Excerpt: "In deciding in favor of Robinson, the Fifth Circuit sought to achieve a fair result for Robinson, who the court determined had not been given a reasonable opportunity for a full and fair review of Aetna's termination of benefits as required by ERISA and DOL regulations." (Trucker Huss)

Overview: 2006 Updates to the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (PDF)
Pages 3-5 of 6 pages. Excerpt: "The Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program ..., issued by the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the Department of Labor, is designed to encourage self-correction of certain violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The VFC Program was permanently adopted in 2002 and revised in 2005. In April 2006 the DOL issued further revisions and adopted the final VFC Program effective as of May 19, 2006." (Trucker Huss)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Trading Desk Administrator
for Alliance Benefit Group-MidAtlantic, LLC
in MD

Claims Supervisor (Health Claims/FSA)
for Zenith Administrators
in CA

Benefits/Payroll Services Manager
for CUNA Mutual Group
in WI

Associate Plan Administrator
for RSM McGladrey Retirement Resources
in IA

Senior Plan Administrator
for RSM McGladrey Retirement Resources
in IA

Sales Consultant - Retirement Benefits
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in MA

Retirement Services District Manager
for ADP ~ Automatic Data Processing
in NY

Education/Enrollment Specialist
for ADP ~ Automatic Data Processing
in CA, NJ, NY, OH

Senior Benefits Administrator
for BKD, LLP
in MO

Self-Direct Brokerage Product Manager
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Communications Consultant
for Merrill Lynch
in GA, NJ

Vice President/Retirement Plan Manager
for Merrill Lynch
in MA

Marketing Analyst
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ




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