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August 16, 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)

Cafeteria Plans Not Required to be Held in Trust
Excerpt: "The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling by US District Judge Henry Herlong Jr., of the US District Court for the District of South Carolina in favor of the employer. The appellate court asserted that the company had actually submitted amounts greater than the employee health contributions within the required 90 days." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Companies Explore Overseas Health Care to Cut Insurance Costs
Excerpt: "With US health insurance costs soaring, cash-squeezed companies . . . and poor states such as West Virginia are considering affordable plans that may require their employees to travel to India, Thailand, or Indonesia." (The Christian Science Monitor via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Study Reveals Americans Resist Doing Health Care Cost Homework Even When Information Available
Excerpt: "[O]nly ten percent of survey respondents said they would be 'extremely likely' to 'shop around' for medical services if they could obtain information on the prices and quality of doctors and hospitals. Combined with the 'very likely' responses (29 percent), the total percentage of respondents likely to shop around for health care remains below 40 percent." (Business Wire via Human Resource Executive Online)

Overview: U.S. House of Representatives' Passage of New Health IT Bill (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "On July 27, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives approved by a vote of 270-148, H.R. 4157, known as the 'Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2006' designed to spur health information technology (HIT) by health care providers." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

Opinion: Medical Miasma -- International Health Care Comparisons
Excerpt: "Most Americans I talk to have a lot of screwy ideas about medical care. They think Americans have 'The Best Health-Care System in the World.' They think 'socialized medicine' doesn't work, because people have to wait too long to get care, and the care isn't very good and they don't have any choices. We have many wonderful doctors, hospitals and pieces of equipment in the U.S. However, statistically, we don't do so well." (The Washington Times)

Case Study: Managing Health Care Costs in Grand Rapids (PDF)
At pp. 1-3 of 6-page newsletter. (Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company)

Comments on Aetna's 'Vital Savings on Health' -- Offering Discount Cards to Small Employers
Excerpt: "So Aetna's 'Vital Savings on Health' program is the next best thing to insurance: a card ensuring that patients will receive the same discount that Aetna receives from its PPO contracted physicians. This program should appeal especially to small businesses since the cost is lower than PPO plans which small businesses are finding to be less and less affordable each year." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Court Refuses to Strike Affirmative Defenses in ERISA Subrogation Lawsuit
Excerpt: "This is solely a procedural decision involving ERISA subrogation. . . . [A] child was a beneficiary of an ERISA health care plan . . . . The plan paid medical bills on behalf of the minor child relating to [a] car wreck. The plan sought to recover its subrogation interest from the settlement that the child's parents received from third-parties relating to the car wreck. The ERISA plan contained a clause that permitting it to pursue subrogation." (ERISA on the web; posted by John Wood)

Paper Suggests Method to Gauge Health Management Program Returns
Excerpt: "An article in the July/August 2006 issue of American Journal of Health Promotion sheds some light on how employers might gauge the economic returns on their investments by giving guidelines for measuring heath and productivity management program efficiency." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

2006-2007 IRS Priority Guidance Plan (PDF)
29 pages. See pp. 2-5 for information about upcoming guidance in the areas of employee benefits, executive compensation, health care and other benefits. From the IRS press release about this document: 'In Notice 2006-36, we solicited suggestions from all interested parties, including taxpayers, tax practitioners, and industry groups. . . . The 2006-2007 Priority Guidance Plan contains 264 projects to be completed over a twelve-month period, from July 2006 through June 2007." (Internal Revenue Service)

The Stock Option Backdating Scandal: Lessons for Privately-Held Companies (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The publicity surrounding backdating of stock option grants has focused on publicly traded companies. . . . However, even privately-held companies should learn from the questionable practices that have come to light and adopt procedures that avoid these concerns. In this alert, we identify some of the practices that have created problems, explain why these matter to even privately-held companies and suggest best practices to avoid issues." (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

Insurance As a Placeholder -- A Case for Deferred Annuities (PDF)
Excerpt: "Industry experts have suggested the possibility of using annuities as a placeholder for retirement income . . . ." (National Underwriter via Milliman)

New Website: ERISA Class Action Settlement Clearinghouse
Excerpt: "Fiduciary Counselors has created this website to provide information on what ERISA plans need to do with respect to class action settlements under ERISA or securities laws [such as settlements resulting from the mutual fund scandals and employer stock held by retirement plan trusts]. . . . The site includes information on past ERISA settlements, to help plan fiduciaries and litigators evaluate future settlements." (Fiduciary Counselors, Inc.)

Overview: SEC Focuses on Top Non-Executives in Pay Proposal
Excerpt: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a revamped rule requiring companies to provide compensation details for top-paid non-executives who make 'significant policy decisions.' The proposal would, for the first time, require companies to disclose the pay of as many as three non-executive employees, in addition to the compensation of five top-managers." (Bloomberg News)

Comments: En Banc 9th Sets New Conflict Approach for Review Standard
Excerpt: "Requiring ERISA plan participants to present material, probative evidence of plan administrator conflict of interest unreasonably shifts the burden of proof, according to an en banc 9th Circuit ruling, reversing a previous 9th panel's decision and rejecting the conflict approach that had been established in the 9th's own 1995 Atwood ruling. [Abatie v. Alta Health & Life Insurance Company, 03-55601]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Employees on Military Leave: Employee Benefits Obligations of Employers
Excerpt: "An individual who performs duty on a voluntary or involuntary basis in the uniformed services is covered under USERRA. Virtually all employers regardless of the number of employees must comply with USERRA." (Poyner & Spruill LLP)

Charting the U.S. Labor Market in 2005
Excerpt: "This report . . . includes graphs and text describing the U.S. labor market in 2005. Highlights include information about educational attainment, race and Hispanic ethnicity, women, and families. . . . The chartbook is divided into sections by topic: Major Indicators, Education, Employment Relationships, Race and Hispanic Ethnicity, Women, and Families. Each chart can be downloaded individually. Note that this chartbook is presented on this website in Adobe PDF format." (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Plans
in Texas on November 28, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

401(k) Plans
in California on December 5, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Cafeteria Plans
in Texas on November 29, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Cafeteria Plans
in California on December 6, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Texas on December 1, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in California on December 8, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

EPCRS - A New Day Dawning
in Ohio on August 22, 2006
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of Greater Cincinnati

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Texas on November 30, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in California on December 7, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in Texas on December 1, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in California on December 8, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Texas on November 30, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in California on December 7, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

New Electronic Payment Card Guidance for Health FSAs, HRAs, and DCAPs-- Will the New Rules Make Substantiation Easier?
Nationwide on August 1, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

2006 - 2007 Priority Guidance Plan
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))

Invesmart's RightPath Managed Account Option Hits 57 Percent Participation Rate
(Standard Insurance Company)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Vice President of Compliance
for CitiStreet
in MA

Marketing Product Manager - Relius Employee Benefits Products
for SunGard Relius
in FL

Defined Contribution Administrator
for HPL&S Inc.
in IL

Senior Account Management Specialist - # 9885
for Securian Financial Group
in MN

Client Relationship Managers
for OppenheimerFunds, Inc.
in NY

Section Manager - Marketing, Retirement Plan Svcs
for T. Rowe Price
in MD

Project Manager
for Vanguard
in PA

Annual Plan Reporting Services Manager
for Vanguard
in PA

401(k) Plan Administrator
for The Osborne Organization, Inc.
in CA

VP Retirement Paycheck Service
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Counsel (Employee Benefits/Tax/Retirement Accounts)
for Great-West Corporate
in CO




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