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August 2, 2006
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HHS Announces Rules To Allow Donation of Electronic Health Record Products, Training to Physicians
Excerpt: "HHS [yesterday] announced final rules that seek to help physicians implement electronic health record systems, CQ HealthBeat reports. The rules establish exceptions and safe harbors for two federal fraud and abuse laws that regulate the donation of health care information technology and services." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

IT Spending in U.S. Electronic Health Record Market Expected to Increase to $4.8 Billion by 2015
Excerpt: "According to the study, U.S. Electronic Health Records 2005 - 2015 Spending Forecast and Analysis, that increase represents a compounded annual growth rate of 15.8% in the EHR market during the next 10 years." (AISHealth.com)

ERISA Claimant Scores Victory in 11th Circuit
Excerpt: "In Tippitt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., an ERISA disability case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the federal district court's judgment in favor of the plan defendants, which had concluded that the claimant did not qualify for benefits. In doing so, the 11th Circuit addressed several legal issues worth discussion." (erisa on the web; posted by John Wood)

Insurers' Congestive Heart Failure Programs Add Pharmacy Tools and Broaden Eligibility
Excerpt: "Health insurers are expanding their heart failure disease management programs to include more patients in earlier stages of the condition and add medication compliance and other pharmacy management services." (INSIDE DISEASE MANAGEMENT via AISHealth.com)

Evergreen State Imposes ER Benefits Penalty on Insurer
Excerpt: "Washington state regulators have issued $65,000 in fines in connection with allegations that a health carrier violated the state's prudent layperson rule for coverage of emergency room claims." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Opinion: Physician Urges Employers to Get Connected to Telemedicine
Excerpt: "There are compelling reasons for employers to pay attention to telemedicine and, given their purchasing clout, to take a leadership role in advancing the field. Those that do will reap the benefits of improved employee health and cost-effectiveness of care, with increased productivity sure to follow." (Employee Benefit News)

NCQA Updates Plan Accreditation Standards
Excerpt: "In response to the growing health care consumerism movement, health plans will be required to demonstrate that they provide their members with information to help them navigate the health care system under the National Committee for Quality Assurance's revised accreditation program." (Business Insurance)

Health Plans Launch Specialty Pay-for-Performance Programs Despite Lack of Consensus on Standards
Excerpt: "Despite . . . challenges, some insurers are moving ahead with their own programs to evaluate and reward specialists for high-quality and efficient care. And NCQA last month released proposed measures for a spine care recognition program that could form the basis for a specialist P4P program." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via AISHealth.com)

Is Self-Funded Health Care a Path for Small Firms?
Excerpt: "Self-funding is more prevalent among large companies because they can spread their claims risks over a large employee population. Smaller companies . . . traditionally have been less apt to do it because even one major unexpected claim can deliver a huge financial blow. But now self-funding has become a more inviting option for small firms because of the continuing increases in premiums." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Opinion: Shopping for Health
Excerpt: "Smart shopping can pay off. The cost of health savings-account-eligible policy premiums went up by just 2% this year. Regular insurance premiums rose by 7%. Cost-conscious consumers may have found a way out of the crisis that threatens to make health care unaffordable for those without generous employers." (The New York Sun via Galen Institute)

Newsletter: MANAGING HEALTHCARE COSTS, July 2006
Excerpt: "[This is] a monthly newsletter on understanding how healthcare costs impact your business with information from BCBSA." (BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Rising Obesity Will Thwart Efforts To Reduce Health Costs, Former President Clinton Says
Excerpt: "Increased rates of obesity and related health problems will limit the effectiveness of electronic health records and other measures implemented to reduce U.S. health care costs, former President Bill Clinton said . . . during the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Health Schools Forum at his presidential library in Arkansas, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

More Employers Going to Health Plans and Insisting on Preventive Care
Excerpt: "Employers may indeed be shifting insurance costs to employees, but many are also taking greater interest in their workers' health. Encouraged by public health officials, these employers say they've come to realize that if they pay for health, they'll pay less for sickness." (Managed Care Magazine)

Opinion: AFL-CIO Mandated Insurance Ploy Officially Backfires
Excerpt: "[T]he federal court nixed the labor federation's grand plans, declaring that Congress actually meant it when it passed a law many years ago, known as ERISA, that protects national companies from the caprices of state insurance regulation." (Tribune Chronicle)

Opinion: Massachusetts' Health Care Reform Plan: Too Many Sticks; Not Enough Carrots (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Conclusion. The Romney reform plan includes numerous new mandates and does little to solve the problems caused by the state's guaranteed issue and community rating laws. Without addressing those problems, there is little hope that the new legislation will make health insurance more affordable." (The Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Opinion: The Health Care Debate -- Will Desperation in Corporate America Finally Spur Health Reform?
Excerpt: "A lot has changed since a former chairman of General Motors Corp. once declared, 'What's good for GM is good for America.' These days it might be more accurate to say, 'What ails GM, ails America.' And what's ailing GM, CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. recently told the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is the skyrocketing cost to employers to provide employees and retirees with healthcare." (Treasury & Risk Management)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

What's Behind Lower Stock Option Costs?
Excerpt: "By one calculation, stock option costs have plunged from a peak of $104 billion in 2000 to $30 billion last year for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, according to Credit Suisse." (AP via The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Employee Benefits Alert -- Have You Checked Your Stock Options Lately? (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Recently, the SEC and the Department of Justice provided a preview of what their charges could look like in the complaints filed against key executives of Brocade Communication Systems, Inc. The civil complaint (SEC v. Reyes et. al) alleges that Brocade's CEO, CFO, and VP of Human Resources altered records, including committee minutes and personnel documents, to create the false impression that options had been granted at an earlier date . . . than the actual grant." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

Comments on a Reminder About Moral Hazard
Excerpt: "There is an interesting post at http://www.bostonerisalaw.com/, the blog of Steven D. Rosenberg of the McCormack Firm in Boston relevant to reviews of claims decisions by benefit plan administrators. Those of us who do not subscribe should thank Mr. Rosenberg." (Thomas L. Geer, J.D., LL.M. on 403b-457plansblog.blogspot.com)

Delray Beach, FL and Florida Atlantic University Latest to Sanction Domestic Partner Benefits
Excerpt: "Delray Beach joins other public employers locally in agreeing to provide domestic partner employee benefits. As well, a new nondiscrimination policy at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is being viewed as 'a victory' for g.ay and les.bian students and employees, according to Rand Hoch, founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (HRC)." (Boca Raton News)

Overview: SEC Approves Final Rules on Executive Compensation Disclosure
Excerpt: "The SEC approved final executive compensation disclosure rules that will be effective for the 2007 proxy season on July 26, 2006. The rules largely follow the framework of the proposed rules issued in January, but [Groom Law Group has] summarized [the] significant changes in the final rules." (Groom Law Group)

Fiduciary Case Study: Measuring the Impact and Effect of Fiduciary Decisions
Excerpt: "An employer with approximately 2,600 employees wanted to investigate the nature of fees and operational processes with their plan. The objective was to resolve lingering questions the committee had about how their service providers were paid. This article outlines their approach using an independent fiduciary." (Matthew D. Hutcheson via 401khelpcenter.com)

New Jersey Public Employee Pensions and Benefits to Be Scrutinized
Excerpt: "One of the four special legislative committees formed this week to debate how to lower property taxes plans to consider altering public worker benefits. A report ordered last year by then-Gov. Richard J. Codey, estimated that changes could save state and local governments as much as $1.7 billion per year." (AP via phillyburbs.com)

Milliman's Monthly Benefit News and Developments, August 2006 (PDF)
2 pages. The newsletter provides a summary of the previous month's legislative, regulatory, and judicial information on employee Benefits. (Milliman)

Treasury Secretary Seeks to Curb Benefit Entitlement Costs
Excerpt: "Delivering his first address as Treasury secretary, former banking titan Henry M. Paulson pledged yesterday to seek a bipartisan compromise with Congress to shore up federal benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare, whose runaway costs threaten the nation's long-term financial health." (The Boston Globe via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Listing of IRS Published Guidance for January 2006 -- July 2006
The target page links to guidance published by the Service relating to retirement plans: Treasury Regulations; Revenue Rulings; Revenue Procedures; Notices; and, Announcements. (Internal Revenue Service)

Overview: DOL Mandates Electronic Filing of Form 5500 Beginning with 2008 Plan Years
Excerpt: "The electronic filing mandate applies only to Form 5500 annual reports required by ERISA Title I. However, the IRS has advised DOL that electronically filing a Form 5500 together with the required schedules and attachments will satisfy the annual reporting requirements under IRC §§ 6058(a) (information about qualification, financial condition, and operations of deferred compensation plans) and 6059(a) (actuarial report for defined benefit plans)." (Deloitte's Washington Bulletin via BenefitsLink.com)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

409A: What Does It Mean for Me? - Webcast
Nationwide on September 6, 2006
presented by Beyster Institute

Patient Advocacy Programs: Do They Aid Productivity and Increase Quality in Health Plans?
Nationwide on August 17, 2006
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Web/Telephone Seminar: Direct Rollovers and Other Portability Issues
Nationwide on September 14, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Handling IRA Legal Issues
Nationwide on September 7, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Individual(k) Plans
Nationwide on September 28, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Introduction to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Nationwide on September 21, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Contributions
Nationwide on September 12, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

YMCA Selects Automated 403(b) Loan Origination and Documentation Solution from 401kLoans, LLC
(Metrics Partners)

Buck Consultants Survey Finds Higher Salary Increases Expected in 2007
(Buck Consultants)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

OmniPlus Consultants
for Chesapeake Benefit Partners
in ANY STATE

Account Managers - Retirement Services
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA

Manager, Retirement Operations
for Yum!
in KY

VP Employee Benefit Administration
for Unified Trust Company, N.A.
in KY

Actuarial Analyst Advanced
for Hewitt Associates
in GA

Tax/Employee Benefits Attorney
for Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP
in NY

401(k) Administrator
for BMI
in MO

Retirement Plan Sales Representative
for Boyce & Associates, Inc.
in AZ

Pension Administrator
for FBD Consulting, Inc.
in KS

Transitions/Conversions Project Manager
for M&I Bank
in WI

Benefits Analyst
for Knowledge Learning Corporation
in OR

Senior Principal, Retirement Plan & Pension Plan Consultant
for NRECA
in VA

Qualified Plan Administrator
for DST Systems
in MO




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