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July 20, 2006
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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)

Court Voids 'Wal-Mart Law' -- U.S. District Judge Says Maryland Violated Federal Authority
Excerpt: "A federal judge in Baltimore struck down yesterday a pioneering state law that sought to require Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to boost spending for employee health care, saying the legislation violated a federal law that promotes uniform treatment of employers." (The Baltimore Sun; one-time registration required)

Judge Rules ERISA Trumps Maryland 'Wal-Mart' Health Care Law
Excerpt: "A federal judge threw out a controversial Maryland law on Wednesday that regulated the amount of health coverage Wal-Mart had to provide to employees in the state. He ruled instead that a federal benefits law would overide the state measure in any event." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Subcommittee on Health, July 18, 2006, Hearing on Price Transparency in the Health Care Sector
The target page has links to witnesses' testimony which includes representatives from the insurance industry, the health care provider community, and the academic community. (U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means)

Overview: IRS Provides Further Guidance on Use of Debit and Credit Cards for FSAs and HRAs
Excerpt: "In the ruling, the IRS provided three methods (co-payment match, recurring expenses and real-time substantiation) a plan sponsor could adopt to substantiate claimed medical expenses under Internal Revenue Code Section 213(d) after a participant uses a debit or credit card." (McDermott Will & Emery)

Employees Overlook Telecommuting Benefits
Excerpt: "Something is keeping workers from telecommuting, even when the boss says it's okay. Twenty-five percent of employees nationwide have the option of telecommuting, but only 11% participate in the benefit, according to the National Technology Readiness Survey, commissioned by the University of Maryland and Rockbridge Associates." (BenefitNews Connect)

Insurers Study Implanting RFID Chips in Patients
Excerpt: "The chips will be tested in patients with chronic conditions who are more likely to need care in hospital emergency rooms. In the two-year trial, the insurance company will pay about $200 for the chips to be implanted, plus $80 a month for a subscription fee, according to reports in the RFID Journal." (eWEEK.com)

Personal Health Records: A Primer
Excerpt: "This is the first part in a two-part series that delves into personal health records (PHRs) and electronic health records (EHR), two acronyms that are fast becoming fixtures in healthcare rhetoric. In part one, we offer a primer on the information systems." (CCA Strategies LLC)

Decision in Drawn-Out Court Case Lets Ford Up Hourly Retirees' Costs to Ease Financial Burden
Excerpt: "The new costs likely will take effect Aug. 1. In a 77-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman approved the deal expected to get Ford an annual pretax savings of $650 million and cash savings of about $200 million annually. It also will reduce Ford's overall retirement obligations by $5 billion." (The Detroit News)

Overview: Supreme Court Provides Guidance on Reimbursement Rights of ERISA Plans
Excerpt: "In Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc., the Supreme Court resolved a split in the circuits and held that the reimbursement provisions commonly found in medical plans are enforceable under ERISA in the right circumstances." (Faegre & Benson LLP)

AK Steel Retirees Ask Court to Bar New Health Care Plan
Excerpt: "A class action lawsuit brought by almost 4,600 retirees of AK Steel Corp. asked a federal court in Cincinnati to bar the company from making them pay monthly health insurance premiums and eliminating vision, dental coverage, Medicare subsidy benefits and reducing their life insurance coverage." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Four Steps Toward Solving Our 'Grand National Problem'
Excerpt: "To expect us to fix ourselves, at all levels through out the healthcare system, is naïve. People don't change their behavior without some negative ramifications being assigned to maintaining the status quo or positive rewards associated with making a change. For too long the American people have waited for the system to fix itself." (Fred Goldstein via HealthLeaders News)

Oregon Introduces Mental Health Coverage Rules
Excerpt: "Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has mandated the adoption of administrative rules that will govern implementation of a mental health parity law that was passed last year." (Business Insurance)

Study to Link HSA Enrolees and Financial Advice
Excerpt: "A new research project from Myfinancialadvice Inc. hopes to show a connection between HSA adoption and individual financial advice.The company is offering participating employees three months of free one-on-one advice with a certified financial planner. At the end of the three-month study period the company will analyze the data and see if the free advice increased HSA adoption." (The Advisor)

Hearing Witnesses Support Federal Role in Insurance Regulation
Excerpt: "A Treasury official said Tuesday that Congress probably will have to act to solve the regulatory problems facing the U.S. insurance industry." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Opinion from Graef Crystal: Granting Options to Take Advantage of Good News
Excerpt: "The law, known as Sarbanes-Oxley, was designed to curb various abuses after all the shenanigans surrounding the collapse of companies such as Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. Sarbanes-Oxley seems to have put a clamp on the practice of backdating options -- deciding today, after your company's stock price has soared, that your new option should carry a price that occurred weeks or months ago." (Bloomberg News)

As Workers' Pensions Wither, Those for Executives Flourish -- June 23, 2006, WSJ Article
Excerpt: "The pension plans for [General Motors'] rank-and-file U.S. workers are overstuffed with cash, containing about $9 billion more than is needed to meet their obligations for years to come. Another of GM's pension programs, however, saddles the company with a liability of $1.4 billion. These pensions are for its executives." (Wall Street Journal via Coalition for Retirement Security)

How to Get Ready for the New Proxy Executive Compensation Disclosure Rules
Excerpt: "Here's a rundown on five areas where [an] organization can take steps to prepare for the new regulations." (Towers Perrin)

Deferring Compensation Also Creates A Company Debt to Executives -- June 23, 2006, WSJ Article
Excerpt: "'Deferred-comp' plans . . . are liabilities for the companies -- that is, debts. The carrying cost of this debt is something that companies must deduct from their earnings each quarter. Deferred-comp plans resemble executive pensions, in particular, because they often aren't 'funded.' That is, companies usually don't lock away assets in the plans to pay the money when due. So deferred-comp plans affect company profits in much the same way as executive pensions do: by reducing them." (Wall Street Journal via Coalition for Retirement Security)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Employee/Independent Contractor - Basics and Beyond
Nationwide on August 17, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Mutual Fund Fees and Disgorgement
Nationwide on July 25, 2006
presented by Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society

New Stock Valuation Requirements for Closely Held Companies Under the New Deferred Compensation Plan Regulations
Nationwide on November 29, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Securities Law Requirements for Equity Compensation in Closely Held Companies
Nationwide on November 30, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Using ESOPs as an Acquisition Strategy
Nationwide on September 21, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Deloitte Consulting LLP Survey: 401(k) Participation On The Rise, But Will Employees Be Financially Ready For Retirement?
(Deloitte)

Allied Pilots Association Emphasizes Support for Age 60 Retirement
(Allied Pilots Association (APA))

First-Ever Awards Recognizing Excellence in Incentives and Rewards are Presented by the National Business Coalition on Health and The Leapfrog Group
(National Business Coalition on Health)

CitiStreet Small Corporate Sales Jump 21 Percent in 1st Six Months
(CitiStreet)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Client Integration Transition Manager
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY

Plan Administrator
for TPA Firm
in MI

Client Relations Manager
for ING
in PA

Senior Manager
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Senior Benefits Administrator
for Milliman, Inc.
in WA

Employee Benefits Consultant (Daily Valuation Expert)
for Clifton Gunderson LLP
in IL

Sr. Benefits Analyst
for Tyco Electronics
in PA

Director of Benefits
for Cablevision
in NY

Benefit Analyst
for Clark Consulting
in TX




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