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October 12, 2006
Today's sponsor: Financial Research Associates

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MADE IN AMERICA 2007: The 4th Annual Taft-Hartley Benefits Summit

MIA's mission is to provide pro-active solutions and help foster initiatives which will translate into action at the trust fund level. Our speaker faculty has empowered Trustees and Administrators for three years now and we are committed to giving funds a no-nonsense, solution-driven Summit.

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

2007 Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Creditable Coverage Notices Due By November 14
Excerpt: "Under the Part D regulations . . . , the notice of creditable coverage disclosure must be provided to Part D eligible individuals, at a minimum, at the following times: . . . Prior to the commencement of the Part D Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP) which begins on November 15 of each year . . . . Notices for the 2007 calendar year must be delivered to their plan participants by November 14, 2006." (Deloitte)

HSAs Would Expand Under House Ways and Means Reported Bill
Excerpt: "Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) would be able to accept rollovers from health flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements under H.R. 6134, the 'Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act,' reported by the House Ways and Means Committee on September 27, 2006." (Deloitte)

Insurer Did Not Agree to Be Plan Administrator and Was Not Responsible for COBRA Notice
Excerpt: "This case gives us an excuse to reiterate that COBRA's notice obligations usually fall on the employer sponsoring the plan, even if the plan is insured and the insurer handles many aspects of plan administration. This is because, under the controlling definition, the plan administrator is the employer unless someone else is designated." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Depression in the Workplace (PDF)
22 pages. Excerpt: "[The authors] have divided this publication into three parts: The first part outlines and quantifies the effects of workers' untreated depression; the second describes the current state of therapy; and the third covers many of the techniques and resources that employers may use to help their employees overcome their depression." (Managed Care Magazine)

Text of DOL Opinion Letter FLSA 2006-32 on Bona fide Sick/Vacation Leave Plan and Section 13(a)(1)
Excerpt: "[The DOL responds to a] request for an opinion concerning whether [a] client's sick/vacation leave plan qualifies as a bona fide plan under the regulations implementing section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)." (U.S. Employment Standards Administration)

Unfunded Health Care Liability for Retirees Is a 'Fiscal Time Bomb,' Opinion Piece States
Excerpt: "Retiree health benefits for state and local government employees are 'a $1.4 trillion fiscal time bomb,' according to a Cato Institute analysis, Cato tax policy director Chris Edwards and Cato senior fellow Jagadeesh Gokhale write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Employer's Payments to Former Employee to Help Pay for COBRA Premiums May Be Subject to FICA Taxes
Excerpt: "COBRA does not prevent an employer from paying a former employee's COBRA premiums under the employer's group health plan. But such payments can raise tax issues. For instance, as indicated in this information letter, the method of payment that an employer chooses will influence the tax treatment of the payments (and may result in unexpected taxes for the employee)." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Health Data for Sale
Excerpt: "The transfer and sale of personal health information is proceeding largely unregulated, according to an expert panel assembled by the American Medical Informatics Association in a newly issued report." (Ziff Davis Internet via eWEEK.com)

Heart Attack, Stroke and Cancer Account for 79% of Critical Illness Claims
Excerpt: "Heart attack, stroke and cancer account for 79% of all paid critical illness claims, according to Colonial Life & Accident. The carrier says that over the 18 months between January 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006, 40% of paid CI claims were a result of heart attack. Cancer accounted for another 20% of paid claims, then stroke (19%)." (The Advisor)

Doctors Slow to Adopt E-Records for Patients
Excerpt: "About one in four doctors use some form of electronic health records, suggesting that a technology frequently billed as a way to improve the quality and efficiency of care has yet to win widespread acceptance, according to a study released yesterday." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

How Common Are Electronic Health Records in the United States? A Summary of the Evidence
Excerpt: "Through 2005, approximately 23.9 percent of physicians used EHRs in the ambulatory setting, while 5 percent of hospitals used computerized physician order entry." (Health Affairs)

Understanding How Health Insurance Premiums Are Regulated
Excerpt: "In this piece, [the authors] first discuss how much authority the states and the federal government have when it comes to regulating health insurance premiums. [The authors] go on to discuss the many factors insurers use when setting premiums, some of the ways states have regulated premiums charged to people in the small group and individual markets, how states have controlled the overall price of health insurance premiums . . . ." (Families USA)

Benefits Buy-Downs Trim Health Rate Hikes, According to Sherlock
Excerpt: "Raw health insurance premium rates will be up about 10.4% in 2007, but actual health plan premium rates will increase only 8.2%." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Opinion: Consumer-Driven Health Care Is a False Promise
Excerpt: "[I]t's clear that high health care costs have become an albatross for many American companies. Top policymakers have suggested the answer to this problem is 'consumer-driven health care,' with its requisite high deductibles and health savings accounts. There are two main reasons why this isn't the answer." (THE EXECUTIVE COUNSEL MAGAZINE via Economic Policy Institute)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: New FASB Standard on Accounting for Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits
Excerpt: "Statement No. 158, which amends FASB Statements No. 87, 88, 106, and 132R, represents the completion of the first phase of FASB's comprehensive project on the accounting and reporting standards for defined benefit pension and other postretirement plans. The second phase is supposed to focus on the methodology of pension accounting. Specific issues to be addressed include: . . . ." (Deloitte)

SERP Shifts and IRC 409A
Excerpt: "In recent years, many companies have transferred executives' retirement benefits from nonqualified to qualified plans, using a technique commonly known as a 'SERP shift'. . . . With the enactment of IRC 409A . . . these arrangements need to be scrutinized to make sure that they comply with the new law. Fortunately, the IRS's proposed regulations under IRC 409A offer broad leeway for the continued use of SERP shifts." (Deloitte)

Overview: Extension of Section 409A Plan Amendment Deadline and Other Transition Relief (PDF)
Excerpt: "None of the transition relief applies to certain discount stock options that are the result of backdated options. Accordingly, any action to avoid the application of Section 409A to these options must be taken by the end of 2006." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Restricted Stock Award Value Higher than Options, According to Study
Excerpt: "Researchers at an executive compensation firm found the value of restricted stock awards exceeded stock option values for CEOs of companies that voluntarily adopted the new options expensing rule earlier than required." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Stock Option Backdating Webinar: The Option Practices Scandal and What You Should Do to Avoid It (PDF)
25 pages. Excerpt: "Leading authorities Thomas O. Gorman and Robert J. Tannous provided an in-depth review of the latest corporate scandals involving backdating, spring loading and bullet dodging stock options in a recent one-hour webinar." (Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP)

Scandal Grows Over Backdating of Options
Excerpt: "The heads of three well-known technology companies lost their jobs this week as the result of a scandal sweeping through the business world over the improper backdating of stock options, a practice often designed to inflate the value of stock grants to employees." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Study of Employee Benefits: 2006 & Beyond Master Report (PDF)
44 pages. Excerpt: "Simply understanding employee benefits is not enough. New market research delves into the depths of the driving forces behind employee benefits trends. The Prudential-sponsored Study of Employee Benefits: 2006 & Beyond uncovers the present state of the benefits industry, identifies five critical themes, and explores where current trends may lead us in the years to come." (The Prudential Insurance Company of America)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Claim Denials for Self-Funded Health Plans (Including Health FSAs and HRAs)-- What to Do, What Not to Do, and How to Monitor Your Claims Administrator
Nationwide on October 5, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Health & Welfare Plan Record Retention and Document Disclosures-- How to Avoid Penalties, Keep the Feds Happy, and Prevent Compliance Headaches
Nationwide on November 9, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

HR Strategies Briefing
in Illinois on November 8, 2006
presented by Ogletree Deakins

HR Strategies Briefing
in Illinois on November 28, 2006
presented by Ogletree Deakins

Interactive Seminar: Integrating FMLA, ADA, COBRA, & Workers Comp
Nationwide on November 1, 2006
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com

Maximizing 401(k) Plan Effectiveness and Minimizing Fiduciary Risk
Nationwide on October 24, 2006
presented by The VisionLink Advisory Group

PHR / SPHR Recertification Suite
Nationwide on October 15, 2006
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U. S. Labor Department Gives Filers Affected By Hurricane Katrina Additional Extension of Deadline to File Annual Reports on Benefit Plans
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Great-West Healthcare CD Eases Implementation, Drives Participation in Workplace Wellness Programs
(Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company)

International Foundation Telewebs Now Available On Demand
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Large Market Relationship Manager
for Vanguard
in PA

Pension Administrator
for Howard A. Feinstein & Associates, Inc.
in IL

Associate Benefit Administrator
for Independent Benefit Services
in MD

Internal Wholesaler - 401K
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA

Client Relationship Representative
for The Online 401(k)
in CA

Plan Enhancements Supervisor
for Merrill Lynch
in GA

Institutional Trust Consultant
for BB&T
in DC

Annual Plan Reporting Administrator
for Vanguard
in PA




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