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July 6, 2006
Today's sponsor: ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

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)

District Court Reviewing Maryland 'Play or Pay' Health Mandate Law
Excerpt: "A federal district court on June 23, 2006 heard oral arguments in a case challenging the validity of a new Maryland law that will require certain employers to provide minimum health benefits to employees or pay a tax. Maryland is one of three states to enact 'play or pay' mandates this year, but similar proposals are pending in at least 13 other states." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)

New York Legislators Agree on Bill Creating Health Insurance Mandate for Mental Health
Excerpt: "The state Legislature will return in September to impose a new health insurance coverage mandate in New York that has long been opposed by businesses. Legislators made a deal in the waning hours of their regular 2006 session to require, starting Jan. 1, 2007, that health care policies in the state cover treatment for mental and emotional illnesses." (The Business Review (Albany) via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Massachusetts Coalition Drops Ballot Question on Universal Coverage
Excerpt: "The Massachusetts Affordable Care Today coalition yesterday abandoned its effort to put a question backing universal healthcare coverage on November's ballot and will instead throw its weight behind implementation of the state's healthcare reform law." (The Boston Globe)

Flexibility Needed in Modern Workplace
Excerpt: "As work hours stretch and employees bring work home, work during vacation and relinquish vacation time, Americans are paying the price in more health problems, more depression and less family time. The work-life mismatch hurts businesses, too, experts say." (Employee Benefit News)

With Higher Gasoline Costs, Companies Ramping Up Commuter Perks
Excerpt: "With gas prices still more than $3 a gallon in some parts of the country, nearly 40 percent of commuters are turning to mass transit or carpooling, according to a survey from the federally funded Best Workplaces for Commuters. And employers are seeing benefits to greasing the wheels of that transition. More companies are enrolling in commuter tax benefit programs, signing up for employee discounts with local mass transit, and hiking their transportation subsidies." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: Penalizing Applicants and Employees for Smoking Cigarettes
Excerpt: "Employers have increasingly focused on employee lifestyle choices in an attempt to control [health care] costs. .... Legal issues must be carefully considered before taking action based on smoking/non-smoking status. Specifically, issues could arise under HIPAA, ERISA, the ADA, Title VII and other federal and state laws." (Littler Mendelson P.C.)

Opinion: Employer Healthcare Costs and Global Market Competition -- Two Solutions
Excerpt: "[I]f other countries are more competitive at least partly because their workers are healthier, we need to have healthier employees ourselves to compete. For even if employers manage to shift sickness care costs to somebody else, they will still suffer the consequences of their employees' unhealthy lifestyles." (HealthLeaders News)

Health Plans Target Next Phases of Consumer-Directed Health Care
Excerpt: "'Transparency' is the next step in the evolution of the consumer-directed health (CDH) plans, which require enrollees to take on greater financial responsibility for their health care decisions. Most price transparency tools, however, still don't let patients know what they personally might be charged for a given procedure and probably won't do much to prompt members to comparison-shop online." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Pres.cription Drug Prices Rose Sharply Earlier in 2006
Excerpt: "The price of brand-name drugs commonly used by seniors rose sharply in the first part of this year, according to separate studies released by two consumer advocacy groups." (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Employers Increase Wellness Push with New Programs and Incentives
Excerpt: "Seventy-five percent of employers now offer a wellness program, according to the Hay Group, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm that recently surveyed 435 employers, up from 73% a year ago." (Employee Benefit News)

New Hampshire Governor Signs Health Coverage Bill for Ill College Students
Excerpt: "New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has signed into law legislation that allows seriously ill college students to continue coverage under their parents' group health insurance policies even if they can't maintain status as full-time students." (Business Insurance)

Consumer Interest in Long Term Care Insurance Still Sizeable, But Is Waning
Excerpt: "'Our survey suggests that Americans hold a number of alarming misconceptions about their potential need for long term care,' Laura Moore, senior vice president, John Hancock Long Term Care Insurance, says." (The Advisor)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

South Carolina to Study Public Employee Retiree Pension and Health Care Liabilities
Excerpt: "South Carolina is beginning to grapple with new accounting rules that could add billions of dollars in liabilities to the state's books to account for future retiree health care costs. The budget that took effect Saturday requires a report by January on what state Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom calls a $9 billion problem for the state." (AP via myrtlebeachonline.com)

Lawsuit Questions Constitutionality of Michigan State University's Domestic-Partner Policy
Excerpt: "The American Family Association of Michigan filed a lawsuit against MSU on Wednesday, saying the university's health policy clashes with the state's constitution, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Association President Gary Glenn said domestic-partnership benefits violate Proposal 2, which was passed in November 2004 and states marriage is between a man and a woman. The lawsuit was filed in Ingham County Circuit Court." (The State News (Michigan State University))

Overview: Notice 2006-64 -- Guidance on the Application of Section 409A to Accelerated Payments
Excerpt: "The legislative history to section 409A provides that it was intended that the Secretary of Treasury would provide limited exceptions to the prohibition on acceleration of payments under 409A." (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via BenefitsBlog.com)

Options 'Backdating': Does Your Company Have a Problem? -- List of Best Practices
2 pages. Excerpt: "1.) Your Option Plan Document. [Locke Liddell recommends] that you begin with a review of your company's option plan document. It is best to provide in your plan document that an option award is 'granted' on the date that the approval of the board or committee has become 'official.'" (Locke Liddell Sapp LLP)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

ERISA 401(k) Litigation and Settlements
Nationwide on July 18, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Business Expansion is Possible Post-Katrina; Gilsbar, Inc. Forges Ahead By Expanding its Team and its Sales
(Gilsbar, Inc.)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Pension Analyst II
for SouthEastern Employee Benefit Services, Inc., a subsidiary of First Charter Bank
in NC

Relationship Manager / Senior Pension Analyst
for Boyce & Associates, Inc.
in AZ

Legal & Document Specialist
for Standard Insurance Company
in OR

Qualified Plan Administrator
for Polycomp Administrative Services
in CA

Employee Benefits Marketing Manager
for The O'Neill Company
in CA

Senior Plan Setup Analyst
for CitiStreet
in NJ




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