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September 13, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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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)

Text of Correction to Final Regs on Employer Comparable Contributions to Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "The correction notice that is the subject of this document is under section 4980G of the Internal Revenue Code. . . . As published, the final regulations (TD 9277) contain errors that may prove to be misleading and are in need of clarification." (Internal Revenue Service)

Filing Date Nears for Medicare Part D Retiree Subsidy for Plan Years Ending in 2007
Excerpt: "Employers seeking the [Medicare Retiree Part D Subsidy] must submit their applications at least 90 days prior to the beginning of the plan year (by October 2 for a plan beginning on January 1, 2007)." (Deloitte)

Prospect for Passage of Final Health Care Information Technology Bill Uncertain
Excerpt: "Negotiations to reconcile House and Senate versions of legislation that would promote the implementation of health care information technology have not progressed, and prospects for passage of a final bill prior to the midterm elections are uncertain, according to congressional aides, CongressDaily reports (Lee, CongressDaily, 9/12)." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Health Savings Accounts: The New Benefits Plan?
Excerpt: "Unlike FSAs, earnings on HSAs are tax free, provided that the earnings remain in the account or are used for qualified medical expenses. An obvious improvement over previous plans is that amounts not distributed for qualified medical expenses by the end of the plan year can be carried over without negative tax consequences." (The New York State Society of CPAs)

Court Refuses to Dismiss Claims Administrator as Defendant in ERISA Disability Case
Excerpt: "After [the claims administrator] denied [claimant's] internal appeal, [the claimant] filed suit seeking past-due and future benefits from the plan. [The claims administrator] moved to dismiss, arguing that it was not a proper defendant under ERISA because it did not shoulder any financial responsibility for paying claims under the plan." (ERISA on the web; posted by John Wood)

U.S. Workers Unrealistic about Disability Income Needs, According to Study
Excerpt: "A new study commissioned by UnumProvident and conducted by Harris Interactive found US workers have unrealistic views of how to manage if their income is stopped by a disability." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

University of Kentucky Will Study Offering Domestic Partner Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Besides exploring domestic-partner benefits, UK committees will study expanding child-care options and providing tuition reimbursement for the spouses and dependents of employees, among other things . . . ." (The Courier-Journal)

Minnesota Court of Appeals Panel Invalidates Employer's Vacation Forfeiture Policy
Excerpt: "A recent decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals may provide reason for Minnesota employers to review their vacation policies. In Lee v. Fresenius Medical Care, Inc., 2006 WL 2255955 (Minn. App. Aug. 8, 2006), the court refused to enforce a vacation policy provision that it interpreted as requiring employees to forfeit earned vacation in the event of a termination for misconduct." (Faegre & Benson LLP)

The ADEA Might Not Protect You from Age Discrimination (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission . . . published proposed rules on August 11, 2006 clarifying that favoring an older individual over a younger individual is not unlawful discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act . . . ." (Groom Law Group)

Ex-Wife of Business Owner Only Entitled to COBRA After Termination
Excerpt: "The US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has determined that the qualifying event commencing COBRA coverage rights for the ex-wife of a business owner was her termination of employment and not her divorce." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Employers May Sponsor Overseas Surgeries for Employees
Excerpt: "If you get your health insurance on the job, and you need major surgery, you may soon have the option to have your procedure performed in India or Thailand -- saving both you and your employer a bunch of money." (Day to Day via National Public Radio)

Analysts Probe Health Care Cost Drivers
Excerpt: "Two recent studies from America's Health Insurance Plans and PricewaterhouseCoopers dig deep into the primary cost drivers. According to AHIP and PwC, higher utilization of services, fueled by increased consumer demand, new medical treatments, more intensive diagnostic testing, defensive medicine, aging and unhealthy lifestyles, accounts for 43% of premium increases." (Employee Benefit News)

Rates for New Massachusetts Universal Health Care Law Beyond Reach of Most Working Poor
Excerpt: "[Dr. Paul Hattis], a professor of healthcare policy at Tufts University School of Medicine, matched the rates set by regulators two weeks ago against the income and expenses of actual human beings, and, 'for too many people, the numbers just don't add up,' he said." (The Boston Globe via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Massachusetts Lowers Health Care Payment Surcharge
Excerpt: "The new surcharge, which applies to bills paid on or after Oct. 1, is 2.1%, down from 2.3%. The surcharge is imposed on third-party claims administrators, health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and employers nationwide that administer their own health care plans." (Business Insurance)

Consumers Get More Tools to Gauge Medical Costs and Quality
Excerpt: "As more employers offer consumer-directed health plans and try to persuade workers to shop for better deals in health care, insurers are stepping up their efforts to help consumers understand and calculate the costs. Moreover, they usually are making information and tools available to all customers, not just those with consumer-driven health plans." (Employee Benefit News)

Helping Employees Make Health Care Choices
Excerpt: "National surveys indicate that employees want to have a greater role in their health care but they need to thoroughly understand their options in order to assume more responsibility for their decisions. For the success of consumer-driven plans, employees need to feel comfortable with their health care decisions. Employers can help employees understand their benefits options by providing consistent and informative communication, with detailed examples, through a variety of methods." (National Association of Health Underwriters)

Overview: BLS Data on Availability of HSAs, Wellness Programs, and Health FSAs
Excerpt: "New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that 71 percent of private-sector workers have access to medical care benefits as of March 2006. Fortunately, the BLS data also report on the prevalence of certain features of those medical care benefits, including health savings accounts (HSAs)." (Deloitte)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Final SEC Executive Compensation Disclosure Rules (PDF)
20 pages. Excerpt: "This US Corporate Law Brief is a special edition alert that summarizes the final SEC rules adopted on July 26, 2006, and made publicly available on August 11, 2006 . . . ." (Baker & McKenzie)

Opinion: Aging Costs Will Bring Benefit Cuts and Increases in Payroll Taxes
Excerpt: "Unless the U.S. government implements some combination of benefit cuts and tax increases - including payroll taxes paid by employers - to hold the line on age-related spending, the country's AAA investment rating could drop to speculative grade by 2025, according to Standard & Poor's recently released series of Global Graying Reports." (Employee Benefit News)

Income Recognized When Stock Options Exercised, Not When Sold to Pay Margin Loan
Excerpt: "The Tax Court has held that a taxpayer recognized income when she exercised stock options through a margin loan, and that an exception which treats the exercise of some options as a grant of another option didn't apply. (Racine, TC Memo 2006-162)" (Pension & Benefits Week via RIA News Briefings)

Backdating Stock Options: Intentional Fraud or Carelessness?
Excerpt: "Up until recently, with the release of FAS 123-R, APB 25 controlled. It required an earnings charge for options issued with an exercise price of less than the fair market value of the underlying stock on the date of grant. Granting at less than fair market value, if not prohibited by the plan, was allowed, but the discount was treated as a charge to earnings over the vesting period." (Law.com)

Plan's Alleged Procedural Irregularity Insufficient to Trigger De Novo Review
Excerpt: "In Tabatabai v. Hewlett-Packard Co. Disability Plan, 2006 WL 2547762 (N.D. Cal. Sep. 1, 2006), a federal court in California clarified the standard of review that applied to the defendant's decision to deny ERISA benefits." (ERISA on the web; posted by John Wood)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Pension Protection Act Series - Defined Contribution Plans
Nationwide on September 26, 2006
presented by Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

Pension Protection Act Series - Defined Contribution Plans
Nationwide on September 28, 2006
presented by Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Disaster Relief Announcements
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

National Retirement Partners (NRP) Announces First Round Acquisitions
(Target Marketing Solutions, Inc.)

Pi2Resource Introduces Pension Liability Allocation as New Pension Metric for Liability-Driven Investing
(Pension, Investment and Insurance Resource, LLC)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Administrator
for Loren D. Stark Company, Inc.
in TX

Actuary
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA

401(k) Relationship Manager
for Heartland Financial USA / Dubuque Bank & Trust
in IA

Program Manager - Product Development
for WageWorks
in CA

Benefits Specialist
for The Washington Post Company
in DC

Senior Service Associate
for New York Life Insurance Company
in NJ

Retirement Planning Specialist
for Lord Abbett
in NJ

Fund Administrator - Health & Welfare and Pension Funds
for Segal on behalf of a client
in CA

Senior Defined Contribution Plan Analyst
for Stanley Benefit Services, Inc.
in NC

Retirement Plan Specialist (Administrator)
for First National Bank of Omaha
in NE

Benefits Administrator
for Severn Trent Services
in PA

Senior Human Resources (Benefits) Specialist
for Fluor Corporation
in TX




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