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July 13, 2006
Today's sponsor: Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers

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Finding the Cure for What Ails Your Health Care Plan

Is your health care plan healthy? Discover that elusive elixir that promises to rejuvenate your program and bring back exceptional health care at an affordable price. Consumer directed plans, HSAs, HRAs, wellness programs and pharmacy benefit management services backed by well designed employee communication programs offer solutions-- but which features are right for your plan? Find out at the Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers conference, September 17-20, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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

Senate Approves Legislation that Would Allow the Reimportation of Pres.cription Drugs from Can.ada
Excerpt: "The Senate on Tuesday voted 68-32 to approve an amendment that would prohibit seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of pres.cription drugs purchased from Canadian pharmacies by U.S. residents, the Los Angeles Times reports (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 7/12)." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Massachusetts Health Coverage Amendment Gets Deferred
Excerpt: "Supporters of a constitutional amendment that would guarantee affordable healthcare coverage to all Massachusetts residents were dealt a setback yesterday at the state's Constitutional Convention when the measure was sent to a legislative committee for further study." (The Boston Globe)

CRS Report for Congress: Health Insurance Coverage for Retirees -- Updated March 28, 2006 (PDF)
Excerpt: "There are a wide variety of policy options currently being discussed that endeavor to make retiree coverage more available or affordable, or even to require that employers maintain coverage. However, when considering any option, it is also essential to consider the relationship between retirees' health insurance and insurance for current workers. .... This report will be updated to reflect legislative activity." (Congressional Research Service)

No Shared Benefits for Two Men Wed in Can.ada, Judge Rules
Excerpt: "Less than a week after New York's highest court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry did not violate the State Constitution, a lower court on Long Island denied health benefits yesterday to the partner of a Uniondale man." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Statistical Brief: Changes in Co-pays for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Plans, 1999-2003 (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "While the majority of enrolled employees (57.0 percent) had a physician co-pay of more than $0 but less than or equal to $10 in 1999, by 2003 most employees (60.8 percent) paid more than $10 but less than or equal to $20 for a physician visit." (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

General Retailers Can Take HSA Cards, According to IRS Guidelines
Excerpt: "The guidelines, given in IRS Notice 2006-69, spell out some of the rules workers and employers must follow to show that they are spending health account assets on a qualified items, such as visits to doctors and allergy pills, and not on items such as books or hairbrushes." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

General Motors Corp. Chairman Wagoner to List Health Cost Ideas for U.S. Senate Committee
Excerpt: "In his prepared remarks, Wagoner says Congress could take several steps that would rein in spiraling health care costs, but he cautions against any sweeping overhaul, such as the government-run health care systems of other industrialized nations." (Detroit Free Press)

Baltimore Mayor Unveils Health Cost Plan: Small Companies Would Pay Less for Medical Insurance
Excerpt: "Mayor Martin O'Malley unveiled yesterday a plan to help Maryland's small companies pay less for medical insurance, the second in a series of health care promises that his gubernatorial campaign is rolling out this month. O'Malley's initiative calls for providing tax incentives to companies that offer health care plans and for creating a statewide purchasing pool of businesses to reduce their premiums." (The Baltimore Sun via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Employers See Costs Drop with Big-Deductible Health Plans, According to Study
Excerpt: "Consumer-driven health care plans are placing more emphasis on preventive care as patients seek to avoid costly medical complications, a [UnitedHealth Group] study found." (Star Tribune; one-time registration required)

Overview: Proposed Regs Affecting Employers Issued under Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act
Excerpt: "[Massachusetts] recently issued three proposed regulations that address the obligations imposed on employers under the new Massachusetts health care reform law.... Specifically, the proposed regulations cover ...: The 'Fair Share Contribution' Requirement. The 'Employer Surcharge for State-Funded Health Care Costs.' The Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure Form. This client advisory explains the background and the key features of each of these proposed regulations." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of July 11, 2006, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
26 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans. (Hewitt Associates)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Letter to FASB on Employers' Accounting for DB Pension and Other Postretirement Plans, May 31, 2006 (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "Piecemeal Accounting Reform -- Pension accounting is, by its nature, complex. While it may appear that Phase I represents a 'simple' movement of information from the notes to the balance sheet, it is a major change. Such an action seems premature and counterproductive when the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) indicated that it will undertake a comprehensive review of pension accounting, including measurement issues." (Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets)

More Companies Are Targeting Benefits Communications to Different Demographics
Excerpt: "Add it all up -- dwindling pensions, rising health-care costs, demand for benefits and the need for education -- and targeting demographics seems like a bottom-line necessity, perhaps akin to balancing the budget. Of course, reaching these demographics isn't easy. What works for baby boomers isn't necessarily going to work for Gen-Xers (generally, those born between 1965 and 1980), and especially the new kids in town, Gen-Yers (born in the 1980s and 1990s)." (LRP Publications via Human Resource Executive Online; one-time registration required)

Same-Sex Marriage Developments Force Benefit Plan Sponsors to Reconcile Conflicting Messages: Pt 2
Excerpt: "This [newsletter based on a publication] published June 29, 2006, analyzes the effects of two recent court decisions on the same-gender marriage debate. On July 6, 2006 the New York Court of Appeals refused to recognize same-gender marriage. Also on July 6, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision and reinstated its constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage." (McDermott Will & Emery)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide As of July 11, 2006, on Human Resources and Employment Law (PDF)
7 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)

Employee Benefit Plans Form 5500 -- Are You In Compliance?
Excerpt: "A recent poll of 74,000 employers regarding compliance with Form 5500 filing requirements, showed that about 47% of them did not file the Form 5500 as required by federal authorities in 2003. Larger businesses fared better, with 22% of firms with more than 4,000 workers noncompliant, compared to 57% for businesses with 100 to 300 workers." (CCA Strategies LLC)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Liability Management for Top Executives
in Georgia on August 10, 2006
presented by Schiff Hardin LLP

Annual Enrollment: Clear Communications vs Legal Requirements - How Can a Plan Sponsor do Both?
in Texas on July 20, 2006
presented by Houston Chapter of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists

Eligibility - Basics and Beyond
Nationwide on July 25, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

New Electronic Payment Card Guidance for Health FSAs, HRAs, and DCAPs-- Will the New Rules Make Substantiation Easier?
Nationwide on August 1, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

HMO Rate Increases Continue to Decline for Fourth Consecutive Year
(Hewitt Associates LLC)

ERISA Sec. 4010 Reporting Waiver For Certain Employers Is Extended
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

PERFORMAX Publishes 'COBRA/HIPAA Made Simple'
(PERFORMAX)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Senior Defined Contribution Administrator
for Benefit Associates Inc.
in CA

Business Analyst
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Client Service Manager
for BISYS Retirement Services
in PA

Sr Client Communication Specialist/Sr. (Defined Contribution Plan Administration)
for Standard Insurance Company
in OR

Manager, Regulatory Services - Individual Markets
for Great-West Financial Services
in CO

Membership Coordinator and Office Manager
for National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association
in MO

Plan Document and Compliance Specialist/Paralegal
for Tax Sheltered Compensation, Inc.
in MN




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