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August 17, 2006
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Massachusetts Panel Sets Rate Plan for Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Lower-income uninsured residents would have to pay up to 6.6 percent of their income to buy health coverage under a state panel's recommendation, an amount that is more than is typically paid by higher-income people with employer-provided insurance." (The Boston Globe)

New Treasury Department Guidance on HSAs Seen as 'Good News' for Employers and Plans
Excerpt: "The final guidance 'liberalizes' the definition of what is considered to be 'under a cafeteria plan,' says Harry Beker, chief of the Health and Welfare Branch at the IRS. 'Most [employee] HSA contributions are done through salary reduction,' which means most employer contributions are not subject to the comparability rules,' he tells ICDC." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

Federal Court Rules State Law Claims Preempted by ERISA
Excerpt: "In Cowart v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 2006 WL 2338033 (M.D. Ga. Aug. 8, 2006), the main question was whether the plaintiffs' disability insurance policy was part of an 'employee welfare benefit plan' as defined by ERISA. The answer to this question determined whether the plaintiffs' claims were ultimately governed by ERISA." (ERISA on the web; posted by John Wood)

Little Profit Seen In Advanced Treatments
Excerpt: "It's a dream called personalized medicine: Genetic and technological advances offer the tantalizing prospect that doctors can identify maladies with such precision that their therapies nearly always work. . . . This is the medical and business quandary facing personalized medicine. It is exactly opposite to the drug industry's approach of generating profits from blockbuster, one-size-fits-all prescriptions." (Chicago Tribune: one-time registration required)

Blues' Database May Increase Competition; Health Plans See More Database Projects
Excerpt: "Insurers nationwide are boosting their ability to use health insurance claims data and other information to help employers and consumers analyze health care trends and evaluate care. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) recently announced plans to create such a database of information, a move that some analysts say could make its licensees more competitive with large, national plans." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via

Graphic: Employers Shifting Health Insurance Costs Onto Workers
Excerpt: "Fewer employees receive health insurance through their employers now than in the past, as coverage has declined from 61.5% in 1989 to 58.9% in 2000 and down to 55.9% in 2004 (the latest data available). Less well known is the fact that those who still receive employer-provided coverage are now paying a larger share of those insurance costs." (The Economic Policy Institute)

Public Views on Shaping the Future of the U.S. Health Care System
Excerpt: "On behalf of The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, Harris Interactive surveyed U.S. adults to determine the public's perspectives on ways to improve patient care and on health policy priorities facing the President and Congress. [The target page has links to the full report and to the chartpacks.]" (The Commonwealth Fund)

Families Troubled by Health Care Costs, According to Survey
Excerpt: "Forty-eight percent of individuals in families earnings between $35,000 and $49,999 said they had either a somewhat serious or very serious problem paying their medical bills in the last two years, according to a study by The Commonwealth Fund. Meanwhile, 50 percent of adults in that income bracket said they had difficulties affording their health insurance." (AP via

Congressman Jim Moran Proposes Workplace Fitness Legislation
Excerpt: "In an effort to promote fitness in the workforce, I have cosponsored legislation, the 'Workforce Health Improvement Program Act' (WHIP Act, H.R. 1634) which would make the cost of fitness center memberships a tax exempt benefit for all employees, whether the exercise facility is in-house or located off-site. The bill would also affirm an employer's existing right to deduct the cost of subsidizing or providing fitness center benefits for its employees." (Falls Church News-Press)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Executives Call for Options Expensing Rule to Be Killed
Excerpt: "Thirty business executives have signed onto a business journal article that calls for federal regulators to revoke the new rule requiring the expensing of employee stock options." (; one-time registration required)

Summary: Final SEC Rules Issued on Executive Compensation Disclosures (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "The SEC issued the text of its final rules on executive compensation disclosures on August 11 (the commissioners had voted to approve these rules in late July). As expected, the rules will be effective for the 2007 proxy season. [Groom provides examples of the new disclosure tables at]" (Groom Law Group)

Deferred Compensation Plan Not a Top Hat
Excerpt: "Because an employer allowed non-management non-highly compensated staff members to be in a deferred compensation plan, the program would not be considered exempt from federal benefits law, a judge has ruled." (; one-time registration required)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

16th Annual National Institute on ERISA Litigation
in Illinois on November 9, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

17th Annual National Institute on Health and Welfare Benefit Plans: Responding to Change
in Virginia on November 2, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

21st Annual National Institute on Compensation for Executives and Directors
in New York on November 13, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

DC Implementation Business Analyst
for CitiStreet
in MA

DB Benefits Service Manager
for Hewitt Associates
in IL

Disbursement Services Associate
for Administrative Systems, Inc.
in CA

Employee Benefit Trust Manager
for The Mechanics Bank
in CA

Compliance Specialist
for The Newport Group
in NC

Institutional Service Delivery Manager
for Great-West Financial Services
in CO

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Tegra Financial Partners
in GA

Senior DB Calculations Analyst - 54947
for Affiliated Computer Services (ACS)
in NJ

Employee Benefits Attorney
for Georgia Municipal Association
in GA

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