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July 28, 2006
Today's sponsor: The Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits at The John Marshall Law School

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You Have the Potential. We Have the Programs.

Are you working in human resources? Are you dealing with health insurance plans or pension benefits? Learn how you can broaden your experience with an M.S. degree (for non-lawyers) or LL.M. degree (for attorneys) in employee benefits from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago during an information session from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, August 2. Learn how these unique programs can help advance your career.

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

GASB Staff Explains, in Plain Language, Accounting for Medicare Part D Retiree Drug Subsidy Payments (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The [Technical Bulletin] provides guidance to governments and other postemployment benefit (OPEB) plans regarding how to account for and report these retiree drug subsidy payments, which can be as much as 28 percent of the cost of providing prescription drug coverage." (Governmental Accounting Standards Board)

Overview: IRS Issues New Guidance on Debit Cards for FSA's, HRA's, and Dependent Care (PDF)
2 pages. (Milliman)

Employers Expanding Elder Care Benefits
Excerpt: "About a quarter of all companies currently provide some basic elder-care benefits, mainly referrals that help employees find caregivers and legal services, a recent survey showed. But other companies, such as accounting firm KPMG LLP and Unilever PLC, the consumer-products concern, are going beyond this to provide employees with additional benefits, which can include extended leaves of absence and subsidized in-home care when emergencies arise." (The Wall Street Journal Online via CareerJournal.com)

Companies Increasingly Offering Workplace Benefits for Employees Who Provide Elder Care
Excerpt: "U.S. companies are increasingly offering employees elder care benefits similar to those given to workers with child dependents, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Comments: Another Wal-Mart Bill, More ERISA Preemption?
Excerpt: "[S]upreme Court interpretation of ERISA preemption long ago parted ways with original Congressional purpose and the test these days really comes down to whether the state or local law will substantially interfere with the administration of an employee benefit plan and whether the measure will undermine the goal of having uniform employee benefit obligations ac cross the country." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Employers Helping Workers Ease Impact of Fuel Costs, According to Survey
Excerpt: "The survey by California-based Robert Half International found that 75% of employers say they are taking some measures to cut down on the impact of higher gas prices. Forty-seven percent of employers have increased the expense guidelines for employee-incurred mileage, 37% of employers who responded have allowed staff to telecommute more frequently and 35% of employers say they encourage carpooling." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

House Passes Health Information Technology Bill 270-148
Excerpt: "The bill, the Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2006, now must be reconciled with a version that passed the Senate last year." (modernhealthcare.com)

Instead of Ending Retiree Health Care Coverage, Some Companies Turning It Into a 401(k)-Like Perk
Excerpt: "A small but growing number of companies are trying one new approach: transforming retiree insurance into a 401(k)-type perk. Instead of promising to pay, say, half of a retiree's premiums, no matter how costly, these companies are setting aside a fixed amount for each pensioner's medical care. After that, retirees are on their own, even if costs top what's in their account." (BusinessWeek Online)

Doughnut Hole in Medicare Rx Coverage Could Have Political Implications in Congressional Elections
Excerpt: "Democrats estimate that Medicare beneficiaries with average drug costs will reach the doughnut hole on Sept. 22, six weeks before the November elections, meaning Republicans who supported the program 'risk bad publicity' before the election, according to USA Today." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Overview: Massachusetts Health Care Reform Affects Employers (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Massachusetts recently enacted ambitious health care legislation that aims to cover all of the State's uninsured population through public insurance programs, the private insurance market, and employer-sponsored coverage. The law places new requirements on employers with respect to health coverage." (The Segal Company)

Abstract of August 2006 Bulletin: 'Massachusetts HC Reform May Affect Multiemployer Health Plans'
Excerpt: "The law's rules apply to 'employers,' but there are no rules as to how multiemployer plans or contributing employers are affected by the law. Recently proposed regulations did not address multiemployer plans or employers subject to a collective bargaining agreement and how the provisions may apply to them." (The Segal Company)

HSAs Preferred over HRAs, According to Study
Excerpt: "Health savings accounts not only do a better job of containing health care costs than do health reimbursement arrangements, but they are also more popular among employees, a national survey of employer groups ['HRA/HSA survey for Consumer-Driven Health Care Plans'] indicates." (Business Insurance)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Stock Option Backdating Schemes (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "For the purposes of this article, [the authors] will assume that if an option was backdated, the stated 'grant' date of the option is a date preceding the date on which all necessary corporate action was taken, with the result that the option holder received an in-the-money option -- although the option was reported as being granted at fair market value." (Trucker Huss)

Overview: Backdating and Other Issues Involving Stock Option Grants (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Internal controls over financial reporting have been a primary focus of publicly-traded companies since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Public companies should have already designed and implemented internal controls that eliminate the ability to manipulate option grant dates. If so, those internal controls should be tested periodically." (Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP)

What Backdating Means for Your Company's Financials and Your Personal Tax Return
Excerpt: "In much the same way that backdating is now prompting some companies to restate, corporate tinkering with options can damage the personal equivalent of a financial statement: your tax return.' (CFO.com)

Equity Compensation Plans Should Be Amended to Include Mandatory Antidilution Adjustment Provisions (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "[A]ccounting firms have begun to focus on the effect of the new FASB accounting standard for equity compensation (FAS 123(R)) on adjustments made to equity grants pursuant to plan provisions that permit the board to make adjustments at the board's discretion. Under the old accounting standard (APB 25), this sort of discretionary adjustment did not result in an adverse accounting result, as long as the economic result to the optionee was not improved in the adjustment." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Overview: SEC Adoption of Final Disclosure Rules (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "There will be a new compensation discussion and analysis (CD&A) section that will give companies the opportunity to explain their compensation policies and decisions. The section will be similar in concept and design to narrative disclosure in the management discussion and analysis section in today's reports. The CD&A will be filed and will be part of the disclosure subject to certification by the CEO and CFO." (Buck Consultants)

SEC Approves Executive Compensation Rules; Reproposes Non-Executive Compensation Rules
Excerpt: "The proposed rule amendments required compensation disclosures for up to three non-executive employees whose pay exceeded that of the named executives. . . . In response, it made substantial changes to the proposal and will be reissuing this one area for public comment to allow for complete vetting of the issue." (Financial Executives International)

In the UK, Age Discrimination Legislation Could Affect Many Benefit Programs
Excerpt: "With anti-age discrimination legislation set to take effect Oct. 1, 2006, companies in the United Kingdom should examine current policies where age might be a factor in employee benefits or they risk being liable paying unlimited compensation for non-compliance." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

HR Strategies - Practical Insights on Pressing Employee Benefits and Labor and Employment Law Issues
in Illinois on September 12, 2006
presented by Ogletree Deakins

Price Transparency - Webcast
Nationwide on July 27, 2006
presented by KaiserNetwork.org


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Poll Examines Seniors' Experiences with Medicare Drug Benefit
(Kaiser Family Foundation)

Schwab Cautions Investors: It's More Important Than Ever to be Aware of Investment Fees
(Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.)

Retirement Advice Legislation Subject Of Survey & Report
(McHenry Group, The)

Buck Consultants Survey Identifies Leading Success Factors In Consumer-Driven Health Care
(Buck Consultants)

Business Roundtable Supports SEC Rule on Transparency and Timely Disclosure of Executive Compensation Information
(Business Roundtable)

Pension Specialists, Inc. Opens Chicago Office
(Pension Specialists, Inc.)

DailyAccess Corporation Adopts Newkirk/MasteryPOINT GuidancePlus Solution
(Newkirk Products, Inc.)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Participant Services Center Supervisor
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in MA

Product Manager
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in NJ

Plan Consultant Opportunity
for Weaver Partners, Inc.
in ANY STATE

Pension Administrator
for Pension Administrator
in NJ

Plan Design Analyst
for Clark Consulting
in TX

Senior Pension Analyst
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA

Project/Commission Analyst ~ Financial Services
for CitiStreet
in NJ

Benefits Accountant
for Archdiocese of Seattle
in WA

401k Defined Contribution Administrator
for TPA / Plan Provider
in NY




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