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July 12, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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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)

IRS Notice 2006-69: Use of Debit Cards for HSAs and Dependent Care Plans (PDF)
15 pages. Excerpt: "This notice provides further guidance on the use of debit cards, credit cards, and stored value cards (cards) to reimburse participants ... [and] clarifies certain substantiation methods and requirements that apply to all medical reimbursement plans whether or not a card is used. [It also] provides guidance on the use of cards to reimburse participants in dependent care assistance programs ... including dependent care flexible spending arrangements (dependent care FSAs)." (Internal Revenue Service)

Bill To Allow Purchase of Health Insurance in Any State Receives Additional Support
Excerpt: "Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) said he has received additional support for a bill (HR 2355) that would allow U.S. residents to purchase health insurance in any state, regardless of their place of residence, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 7/11)." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Full-Time Employees Who Also Care for Family Member Cost U.S. Employers $34B in 2004, Report Finds
Excerpt: "Individuals who work full time and also serve as caregivers for elderly family members cost U.S. employers about $34 billion in 2004, a 16% increase from 1997, according to a report released on Monday by the National Alliance for Caregiving and MetLife, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Interesting Case on Successors-in-Interest under FMLA
Excerpt: "Rosario Vega Lynn of the New Mexico Labor and Employment Law Blog sent this interesting post dealing with a novel issue under federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) law: In a case of first impression in any circuit, the Sixth Circuit decided that, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), whether a company is bound by the FMLA depends on labor law not corporate law." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Results of Segal Survey of Medicare Part D Survey of Public Sector Plans (PDF)
4 pages. The Segal Company, in cooperation with the Public Sector Health Care Roundtable, recently conducted a Medicare Part D Survey of Public Sector Plans. The online survey captured how public sector health plans modified pres.cription drug coverage for retirees in 2006 and what direction will be taken in 2007. (The Segal Company)

IT Tools for Chronic Disease Management: How Do They Measure Up? (PDF)
21 pages. Excerpt: "Chronic disease management systems (CDMS) focus specifically on managing chronic disease and preventive care, while the more comprehensive electronic medical record (EMR) documents the entire patient encounter and provides real-time patient information. [This study] assesses them side by side." (California HealthCare Foundation)

Disease Management Programs Can Fill 'Gap' Left by Suboptimal Rx Treatment
Excerpt: "Disease management (DM) programs incorporating pharma.ceuticals can lower overall health care costs for payers by helping fill in the 'treatment gap' that often results in suboptimal or interrupted drug therapy, according to industry insiders and health plans that have implemented such initiatives." (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Health Plans Use New Strategies to Control the Soaring Costs of Oncology
Excerpt: "The same medical advances that are transforming cancer from a life-threatening acute condition to a chronic issue are challenging health insurers and other payers struggling to pay for the soaring costs of treatment. In response, insurers are focusing on both the condition and the cure, rolling out intensive disease management (DM) programs ..." (Managed Care Week via AISHealth.com)

Insurance Coverage and Subsequent Utilization of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Providers (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "The number of people using [licensed complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)] insurance benefits was substantial; the effect on insurance expenditures was modest. Because the long-term trajectory of CAM cost under third party payment is unknown, utilization of these services should be followed." (The American Journal of Managed Care)

Providers Are Not Ready for the Payment Problems of Consumer-Directed Health Plans
Excerpt: "[I]ndustry observers [say] that shifting more financial responsibility to patients will force hospitals, physician offices and other providers to modify their business practices." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

New Bay State Rules Would Excuse Most Cos. from Per-Worker Health Coverage Fee
Excerpt: "Proposed rules [released in] Massachusetts ... to implement its new universal health care law excuse companies from a $295 annual per-worker fee if at least 25% of employees sign up for coverage. Companies not meeting the 25% criteria would also be exempt from the charge if they fund at least 33% of the cost of employees' health insurance ..." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Commentary: High-Deductible Health Insurance Plans -- A Winner
Excerpt: "The latest data from the leading nationwide online marketplace for health insurance, eHealthInsurance.com, reveal the success of patient empowerment when choice and price transparency are offered and when competitive markets are allowed to operate in response to consumer demand." (The Washington Times)

Aetna to Offer Employers a Health Plan for Retirees
Excerpt: "Aetna said Tuesday it will offer a new nationwide health plan for employers to cover their retirees age 65 and up, starting in January, pending federal approval. The Aetna Medicare Open Plan is different from Medicare HMOs and preferred provider plans, which the company offers in some states, but not Connecticut." (Hartford Courant)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

The Executive Report, July 11, 2006, on Recent News in Pension and Health Benefits (PDF)
9 pages. This edition includes: Automatic Enrollment Rule Likely to Include Qualified Default; Prospects for Pension Reform Legislation Remain Uncertain; IRS Adopts ERIC Guidance on 409A Conflict-of-Interest Exception; and, EEOC Staff Comments Indicate ADA Could Bar Wellness Program Practices. (The ERISA Industry Committee)

Issues in Brief: Employer Attitudes towards Older Workers -- Survey Results
Excerpt: "To get a better understanding of the employment prospects of older workers, the Center ... conducted a survey of 400 private sector employers. These employers were asked to evaluate the relative productivity and cost of white-collar and rank-and-file workers age 55 and older and whether, on balance, older employees or job candidates were more or less attractive than their younger counterparts. [The full paper and detailed survey data can be accessed from the target page.]" (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Same-Gender Marriage Developments Affect Benefit Plan Sponsors-- An Update
Excerpt: "Federal and state courts, legislatures, and voters in the United States have recently weighed in on the debate surrounding the legal recognition of same-gender marriage. Unfortunately, those voices give employers a number of mixed messages with respect to how they should treat same-gender couples under their benefit plans." (McDermott Will & Emery)

Boeing Employees Enjoy Stock Bonuses
Excerpt: "Based on its stock price on Friday, the [Boeing Company] will pay bonuses to thousands of its current and former employees. Employees with at least four years of service will receive approximately $5,400 in stock." (erisa on the web; posted by John Wood)

Overview: Stock Option Award Timing Issues
Excerpt: "While there may be innocent or reasonable explanations for such occurrences--such as improper or incomplete record-keeping or insufficient oversight--both government investigators and civil litigants have focused their efforts on establishing that corporate officers and directors deliberately manipulated the dates of stock option grants to ensure that such options were 'in the money' when granted (thereby maximizing their future vested value to the grantee) ..." (Winston & Strawn, LLP via BNA Tax Management)

Opinion: The Tax Code Must Be Updated to Protect Quality of Life for Longer-Living Americans
Excerpt: "A potentially severe and protracted crisis is on the horizon -- a crisis so deep and widespread that it could affect virtually every public-policy debate in Washington. It is not hard to imagine millions of retired baby boomers, relying solely on Social Security because they have exhausted their savings, pressing federal lawmakers for help in their final years." (Frank A. Keating via The Hill)

Opinion from Graef Crystal: SEC's Atkins Joins the Oblivious Camp on Options
Excerpt: "You would think that if anyone understands how top executives gorge on stocks options it would be the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Too bad Commissioner Paul Atkins seems to be in the camp of the willfully oblivious. In a speech before the International Corporate Governance Network, Atkins defended making option grants ahead of good times and good news as being beneficial for shareholders." (Bloomberg News)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Benefits Issues in M&A Transactions - Webcast
Nationwide on July 19, 2006
presented by Retirement Capital Group

Dependent Care-- What Expenses Qualify for Reimbursement?
Nationwide on June 22, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Telecommuting Fights Rising Gasoline Prices, but Manager Concerns Limit Use
(First Guarantee)

Manpower Survey Finds High Fuel Costs Impacting Work/Life Balance
(Manpower)

ABIA-ABA Witness Says Insurance Regulations Harm Consumers, Optional Federal Charter Needed
(American Bankers Insurance Association)

Workplace Options Introduces Managerial Tool Kit
(Workplace Options)

Fiserv ISS and Presidium Retirement Advisers Inc. Launch New Collective Investment Funds
(Target Marketing Solutions, Inc.)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Retirement Specialist
for AON [A Fortune 250 company]
in FL

401K Plan Administrator
for Heinz-Daniel Associates, Inc.
in GA

Senior Benefits Consultant, Health and Welfare
for Top-Tier Global Human Resources Consulting Firm
in NY

Sales Consultant - Retirement
for TRI-AD
in CA

Senior Benefits Analyst
for Retail Industry
in NJ

Financial Planner / Investment Specialist
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in IN

Pension Assistant
for White Plains Firm with Growing Retirement Plan Administration / Pension Consulting Department
in NY




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