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July 17, 2006
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Bipartisan Support Emerging for Federal Role in Insurance Regulation
Excerpt: "As it was preparing to hear the views of the Bush administration on the issue July 18, the Senate Banking Committee last week signaled a measure of bipartisan support for greater federal involvement in insurance regulation going forward." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Overview: New Guidance on Electronic Payment Cards
Excerpt: "The new guidance expands on the 2003 guidance by providing additional substantiation methods for health FSAs and HRAs that use electronic payment cards. It also addresses certain substantiation issues that can arise whether or not electronic payment cards are used, as well as the use of electronic payment cards for DCAPs." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: CMS Provides Additional Guidance on Notices of Creditable Coverage (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Such notices are required to be provided to any Medicare-eligible individual, including those receiving COBRA coverage and certain disabled former employees." (Dechert LLP)

Overview: IRS Proposes Regulations on Dependent Care Expenses Necessary for Gainful Employment (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The proposed regulations incorporate various statutory amendments and guidance issued over the past 22 years related to this tax credit. In addition, they address issues that have arisen administratively over the last two decades and expand the number of examples." (Hewitt Associates)

Appeals Court Says Aetna Acted Arbitrarily in Disability Benefits Case
Excerpt: "The US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Aetna Life Insurance acted arbitrarily when it terminated a plan participant's benefits without considering whether he could get a job after his recovery that would pay 80% of the participant's pre-disability income." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Low-Rate Loans on Homes -- Some Less than 2 Percent -- for University of California's Elite
Excerpt: "UC has come under fire for giving employees millions of dollars in hidden pay and perks -- including low-interest loans -- sometimes in violation of the university's own policies." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Legal & Practical Considerations Relating to Leave Designations under Family and Medical Leave Act
Excerpt: "Question: Can an employer designate leave taken for a medical reason as FMLA leave even if the employee objects to this designation?" (Human Resource Executive Online; one-time registration required)

Administrators Breach Fiduciary Duties by Failing to Protect Health Fund from Known Embezzler
Excerpt: "The DOL filed this case, alleging that successive administrators of a union health fund breached their ERISA fiduciary duties by allowing the fund to deal with a known, convicted embezzler, who proceeded to embezzle employer contributions meant for the fund." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: Employer Cash or Rebate Incentives for Employees are Taxable Compensation
Excerpt: "[T]here are . . . tax consequences when employers decide to give certain types of compensation to employees, including cash incentives or rebates to employees to persuade them to engage in certain activities like purchase an environmentally-friendly car." (Workplace Prof Blog)

San Francisco Aiming to Fund Health Care -- Employers Objecting to Mandatory Fee
Excerpt: "Under the Health Access Program, all San Francisco residents who are not already covered by insurance could enroll and select a primary care doctor. Participants would go to public and private clinics and hospitals for care, and be charged a co-payment based on their income. However, that care will not be 'portable'; it could not be obtained outside San Francisco and would not be available to people living outside the city. Hence, the program cannot be called insurance." (The Sacramento Bee via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

After 20 Years, COBRA Still Complicated Issue -- Interview with a COBRA Administrator
Excerpt: "The average cost to insure a COBRA participant versus an active employee is approximately 150 percent more. The average cost of a COBRA claim validates the fact that those who enroll and pay for continuation coverage are indeed in need of care." (Nashville Business Journal via MSNBC.com)

Congresswoman Nancy Johnson Announces July 18, 2006, Hearing on Price Transparency
Excerpt: "This hearing will focus on efforts to develop greater price transparency in the health care sector and follows on a prior Subcommittee hearing in December 2005 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin." (House Committee on Ways and Means via HealthDecisions.org)

Hospital Care Rewards Program Launched in New Jersey
Excerpt: "The Leapfrog Group and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey are collaborating on the nation's first statewide pay-for-performance project that will provide financial rewards and public recognition for high-quality, efficient care." (Business Insurance)

Employer-Based Health Insurance System 'Collapsing,' SEIU President Says
Excerpt: " 'The employer-based system of health coverage is over' in the U.S., Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Study Shows HSAs May Not Deliver Company Savings
Excerpt: "The study, 'How Much More Cost Sharing Will Health Savings Accounts Bring?' . . . says that typical health plans in the market today already incorporate substantial cost sharing, and companies conduct periodic reviews of their traditional plans to control consumer spending. So the reduction in medical spending that most company executives expect from implementing HSA/HDHP will not likely materialize." (CFO.com)

UnitedHealthcare CEO Offers Ten Intelligent Health Measures Smart Companies Should Employ
Excerpt: "A strong focus on preventive care may not solve the health care crisis, but it is one important way employers and employees can work together to make health care more affordable. Preventive care leads to lower health care costs and healthy employees who are more productive, exhibit less absenteeism, live healthier and longer, and add more vitality to their work." (Daniel Krajnovich via Inside Indiana Business)

Transforming Health Care: A Consumer-Centered Model Takes Hold in the Information Age (PDF)
5 pages. This Issue Brief looks at health care from the consumer perspective. It presents the outlooks of Grace- Marie Turner and Craig Froude. (URAC)

Judge Approves Ford's Health Care Agreement with UAW
Excerpt: "A federal judge has approved a health care settlement that Ford Motor Co. reached with the United Auto Workers union that is expected to save the company $200 million in cash annually. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman on Thursday approved the deal making retired hourly workers pay more for their health care." (Detroit Free Press)

Savings Ahead in Generic Medicines
Excerpt: "Consumers stand to save billions of dollars in pres.cription drug costs in the next few years as an unprecedented wave of expensive brand-name medications come off patent, facing competition from far-cheaper generic versions." (Los Angeles Times; one-time registration required)

Issue Brief: Consumerism Takes Center Stage As Newest Solution to Health Care's High Costs (PDF)
4 pages. The Issue Brief is an overview of the speech by Jerry Burgess atURAC's 6th Annual Quality Summit & Exhibit. Burgess says this is the 'Decade of the Consumer." (URAC)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Reports of a Looming Labor Shortage May Be Premature
Excerpt: "There are two reason for rethinking what many people have taken as a given, HR magazine reports in two articles this month. First, companies simply are not paying enough attention to succession planning." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Experts Say the Impact of an Ever-Grayer Europe Will Be Felt Throughout Society
Excerpt: "According to a recent EU report, the bloc's working age population is projected to fall by 48 million, or 16 percent, between 2010 and 2050, while the number of seniors is expected to rise sharply by 58 million, or 77 percent. Europe will go from having four people of working age for every senior citizen to a ratio of two to one by 2050, predicts the report by the Economic Policy Committee and the European Commission." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Commentary: Vesting of Deferred Compensation: When Words Are More Taxing than Deeds (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "[The Authors] compare vesting under section 409A with that under section 83 and conclude that, paradoxically, the naked promise is often taxed before the funded one. [The article was published February 6, 2006.]" (Tax Notes via Ivins, Phillips & Barker)

Study Finds Backdating of Stock Options Widespread
Excerpt: "More than 2,000 companies appear to have used backdated stock options to sweeten their top executives' pay packages, according to a new study that suggests the practice is far more widespread than previously disclosed." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Plan Fees: The Next Wave of Benefits Litigation?
Nationwide on July 26, 2006
presented by Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Communicating Your ESOP
Nationwide on November 1, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Effective Employee Involvement
Nationwide on October 31, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Effective ESOP Committees
Nationwide on September 14, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

ESOPs as a Business Transition Tool
Nationwide on September 12, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Executive Compensation for ESOP Companies
Nationwide on November 2, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Fiduciary and Investment Considerations for ESOP Companies and Trustees
Nationwide on November 28, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Handling the ESOP Repurchase Obligation
Nationwide on December 12, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Is an ESOP Right for You?
in California on December 5, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Keeping Your ESOP Culture Alive
Nationwide on November 15, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Navigating the 409A Deferred Compensation Plan Rules
Nationwide on November 14, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Preferred Stock in an ESOP
Nationwide on November 21, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Preferred Stock in an ESOP
Nationwide on November 21, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

S Corporation ESOPs
Nationwide on October 24, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

TIAA-CREF Releases Participant Survey on Socially Responsible Investing
(TIAA-CREF)

CalSTRS Takes a Position on Sudan Divestment Legislation
(California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

National Account Executive for Insurance Carrier
for Great-West Healthcare
in CO

Consultant
for Louis Kravitz & Associates
in CA

Benefit Compliance Auditor
for Hewitt Associates
in IL

Manager, Electronic Data Interface(EDI) Team
for Sentinel Benefits Group
in MA

Commercial Trust Relationship Manager
for Marshall & Ilsley Trust Company
in NC

Pension Administrator
for Pension Administration firm in Eastern PA
in PA

Testing & Reporting Consultant
for Fidelity Investments
in KY, MA, TX

Internal Auditor
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Director Transition Services (Implementation of Defined Contribution Plans)
for Fidelity Investments
in KY

Benefits Administrator
for Vanguard
in PA




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