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July 27, 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)

Feds OK Massachusetts Universal Health Insurance
Excerpt: "The federal government has given its approval to a first-in-the-nation program in Massachusetts that will require everyone to carry health insurance, officials announced [yesterday]." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

The Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act Revisited: Proposed Regulations Help Fill in the Gaps (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "The proposed regulations provide guidance on the health information disclosure form, the free rider surcharge and the fair share contribution, but offer no guidance on the content or form of the cafeteria plan contemplated by the Act." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

'Price Transparency' Provision Removed from House Health Care Information Technology Bill
Excerpt: "House leaders [yesterday] removed a provision that would have required hospitals to make public some price information from a health care information technology bill (HR 4157), CQ Today reports (Crowley, CQ Today, 7/26)." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Text of Ways and Means Report to Accompany H.R. 4157 -- The Health Info Tech Promotion Act of 2006 (PDF)
66 pages. Excerpt: "The Committee on Ways and Means, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 4157) to amend the Social Security Act to encourage the dissemination, security, confidentiality, and usefulness of health information technology, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an amendment and recommends that the bill as amended do pass." (U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means)

ERIC Letter Urging Passage of Rep. Johnson's Health Information Technology Promotion Act, H.R. 4157 (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "This letter was distributed to all House members the day before an expected vote on Health Information Technology legislation, which, if passed, will go to conference with Chairman Enzi's S. 1418." (The ERISA Industry Committee)

Audio: Napping Becoming Acceptable in the Workplace
Excerpt: "Some employers are doing the unthinkable: encouraging workers to nap on the job." (Morning Edition via National Public Radio)

More Companies Offering Telehealth Monitors As Way to Improve Access and Decrease Costs
Excerpt: "The Boston Globe on Wednesday examined how an increased number of medical device companies -- such as Honeywell International, Philips Electronics and Viterion TeleHealthcare -- have begun to compete in the market for 'telehealth' monitors, which allow physicians and nurses to track the health of patients from remote locations." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

PBM Reports Find Slowing Drug Cost Trend and Soaring Specialty Costs
Excerpt: "Recently released drug trend reports show a slowing down of the prescription drug trend last year. But while strategies like generic drug utilization helped reduce costs, specialty drug spend continued to soar, claim PBMs Express Scripts, Inc. and Medco Health Solutions, Inc. in their reports." (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Charts: Access to Health Promotion Benefits in the United States, Private Industry, 1999 and 2005
Excerpt: "This chart presentation shows the increase in employee access rates to employer provided health-promotion benefits in the United States from 1999 to 2005. It also shows the 2005 access rates for selected groups of employees for three health promotion benefits: employee assistance programs, wellness programs, and fitness centers." (Compensation and Working Conditions Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Wellness Program Should Be First Step in any Consumer-Driven Strategy
Excerpt: "For employers that want to encourage enrollment in an account-based health plan, implementation of a wellness program could be a good first step. While HSAs and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) can encourage enrollees to be more fiscally responsible in their health care decisions, account-based health plans are only one part of an effective CDH strategy." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Humberto Cruz: Tax-Advantaged Health Accounts Can Help You Save on Medical Costs
Excerpt: "The idea behind HSAs is that, by accepting a higher deductible, you can lower your premium. Then you set aside the money you save in the health savings account. Proponents of HSAs say they encourage consumers to shop wisely for medical care and drive down costs. Opponents claim they benefit only the young, well off and healthy, and may discourage people on tight budgets to seek needed care." (The Boston Globe via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Study Examines Relationship Between Employment and Health Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "'The Effects of Recent Employment Changes and Premium Increases on Adults' Insurance Coverage,' Medical Care Research and Review: The study, by Jack Hadley of the Urban Institute, uses national survey data from 1997, 1999 and 2002 to estimate the relationships among employment, the cost of health insurance and the distribution of coverage for nonelderly U.S. adults." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Sen. Feingold Would Give States Sway Over Health Care Policy
Excerpt: "U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a possible 2008 presidential candidate, on Monday unveiled a draft of health care reform legislation that deviates from decades of health policy by encouraging a shift of legislative innovation to the state level, away from the federal government." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: The SEC Rules Relating to Disclosure of Executive and Director Compensation (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "At its open meeting [on July 26, 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted in part and re-proposed in part the rules on executive and director compensation and related party transactions, as originally proposed on January 27, 2006." (Alston & Bird LLP)

SEC Adopts Revised Milken Rule Requiring Disclosure of Compensation of Top Executives
Excerpt: "The rule adopted [July 26] will require additional disclosures of the pay of such people, most importantly providing better information about retirement benefits. And, if the Milken rule is adopted after the new comment period, the disclosures may cover some subsidiary bosses, even if they have no authority over the parent company." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

SEC Approves Updated Executive Compensation Disclosure Rules
Excerpt: "Under the new rules . . . companies must provide details on: executive salary, bonuses, the dollar value of stock and stock option awards, annual changes in the value of pension benefits, any 'above-market' earnings on deferred compensation, and all other compensation, including perks exceeding $10,000 a year. The items must be shown separately and as a single, bottom-line total, the WSJ reports." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Summary: FASB Discussion on Pension/OPEB Measurement Date, More, on July 26, 2006
Excerpt: "FASB voted to retain the requirement that companies align their measurement date with their balance sheet date, as set forth in its March 31, 2006 Exposure Draft (ED), Employers' Accounting for Defined Benefit Pension and Other Postretirement Plans." (Financial Executives International)

Blog: Measurement Date Change for Pension Plans and Other Postemployment Benefits Pushed Back
Excerpt: "[The] decision not only defers the measurement date change, but eliminates the need for an extra measurement date for measurement of cost. The issue of the cost measurement has been the source of some confusion, even among the FASB itself. Yesterday's discussion clarified that use of an early measurement date for cost merely shifts the cost measurement, rather than the cost itself." (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Impact of Planned Accting Changes for Pensions & Other Postretirement Benefits-- Updated July 2006 (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This paper updates [the Towers Perrin] January 2006 analysis of the potential impact of the expected accounting changes [to employers' accounting for pensions and other postretirement benefits (e.g., retiree medical benefits)] to reflect more recent corporate financial results and the latest developments in the FASB project." (Towers Perrin)

GRS Insight, July 2006, Covers Health Care Cost Mgmt & Accounting & Financing of Retirement Benefits (PDF)
6 pages. The articles in this edition are titled: Managing Health Care Costs: A Case Study; The GASB's New Research Project on Accounting for Retirement Benefits; and, The Advantages of Risk Pooling for Financing Retirement Benefits. (Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company)

Corrected Link: Participant Did Not Revoke Written Beneficiary Designation By Visiting Plan Website
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This case serves as a useful reminder to plan sponsors using electronic administration to ensure that plan websites (and other electronic features) are consistent with plan documents and SPDs. This plan's website allegedly stated that beneficiary designations 'previously made on paper will no longer be valid,' . . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA))

Thoughts about Executive Compensation
Excerpt: "[The target page presents questions] regarding the new SEC executive compensation disclosure requirements." (Pension Risk Matters; posted by Susan Mangiero)

Labor Benefits Panels Prepare Agendas
Excerpt: "The Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans and its working groups are deciding what to discuss at their mid-August meetings. [Links to the meeting notices are on the target page.]" (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

By 2009, Companies Offering Pension, 401(k), and Health-Benefit Plans Must Be Technology Savvy
Excerpt: "A new Department of Labor regulation requires companies to file their benefits annual reports electronically, starting in 2009. The new rule . . . affects annu[a]l reports dated January 1, 2008, or after. The protracted start will give plan and service providers, 'time to adapt to the new electronic system,' noted a DoL statement." (CFO.com)

Employers in Republic of Korea React Cautiously to New Severance Benefit Law
Excerpt: "Employers are moving cautiously in response to a change in South Korean law that encourages them to fund their severance benefit plans in full, according to a Towers Perrin survey of companies doing business in the country." (Towers Perrin)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Using Employee Surveys
Nationwide on September 28, 2006
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Council Testifies Before IRS on Roth 401(k)/403(b) Issues
(American Benefits Council)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Plan Account Manager
for D/A Financial Group of California
in CA

Benefits Analyst~Retirement Plans
for Sempra Energy
in CA

DC Requirements Consultant
for Hewitt Associates
in IL

Benefits Operations Manager
for Hewitt Associates
in CT

Account Supervisor, Employee Benefits
for D/A Financial Group of California
in CA

Defined Contribution Administrator
for IPA Northeast, LLC
in NJ

Employee Benefits Administration
for Primary Consulting, Inc.
in ANY STATE

401(k) Account Manager
for Malcolm Thompson and Associates, Inc.
in TX

ARS Marketing Communications Specialist
for Administaff
in TX

Defined Benefits Coordinator/Analyst
for Constantin Control Associates
in NJ




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