BenefitsLink
Welfare Plans
Newsletter
To BenefitsLink home page Fill your job openings fast by advertising on BenefitsLink

November 1, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Benefit Software Inc.

Are you achieving your important employee benefits objectives?

According to a recent survey, most employers are falling short of their benefits objectives. We can help.

Benefit Software is a leading provider of employee self-service benefits communication solutions.

From employee enrollment to carrier notification, our team will deliver & support 24/7 communication solutions that improve employee morale while reducing administrative costs.

Email sales@bsiweb.com or call 800-533-1388 to request more info.


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

Massachusetts to Delay Health Care Reform Provision Deadline
Excerpt: "Businesses may get a break under changes to the state's historic health care reform law passed last week. Legislative 'technical corrections' will reduce the number of forms needed to prove employees have been offered insurance. Other measures will tighten language and delay the launch of a provision that could force some employers to pay their employees' health care bills if those workers use the state's free care system." (Boston Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Church-Affiliated Charities Subjected to Insurance Law Requiring Prescription Contraceptive Coverage
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: . . . . We note two issues: First, a state insurance law like the one in this case would not apply to a self-funded ERISA plan because ERISA would preempt it. (The irony, however, is that church plans, being exempt from ERISA (absent a special election otherwise), would be subject to state-law requirements, because ERISA preemption does not apply.)" (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Qwest Cuts Retiree Benefits
Excerpt: "[Qwest] plans to cut health-care and life-insurance benefits for thousands of retirees. The Denver-based company also told retirees this month that there will be no future cost-of- living increases in their pensions, said Nelson Phelps, executive director of the Association of US West Retirees. The last increase was in 1996, he said." (The Denver Post)

EAPs May Shorten Employee Disability Absences, According to a Recent Study by the Hartford
Excerpt: "Companies without an [employee assistance program] had 6% of employees on disability leave annually, compared to just 2% of workers for employers that utilized EAP services, The Hartford reports." (BenefitNews Connect)

Comments on Key ADEA Ruling from Divided En Banc 6th
Excerpt: "By demonstrating that a retirement plan's disability benefits provision facially discriminates on the basis of age, the EEOC has established a prima facie case of age discrimination, according to a divided en banc 6th Circuit ruling reversing its original panel's decision. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, 03-6437)" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Plan Participants Not Injured by PBM's Alleged Fiduciary Breach Do Not Have Standing to Sue
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Though quite esoteric, the court's ruling relies on several other circuit court cases reaching similar results. Suffice it to say that PBM business practices have been a continuing source of controversy. Much remains unclear, especially what avenues are available for challenging arguably improper practices." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

CIOs Are Still Struggling to Comply with HIPAA's 10-Year-Old Medical Privacy Regulations
Excerpt: "Some [CIOs] lack the resources to fully meet the requirements of this complex set of rules; others seem to feel little need to hurry since the federal government has not aggressively enforced the law. So it comes as no surprise to learn that HIPAA compliance rates appear to be slipping." (CIO.com)

Amerigroup Slammed in Whistleblower Case to Tune of Potentially $144 Million
Excerpt: "A major US insurance company, Amerigroup, has been found liable in a whistleblower suit for discriminating against low-income pregnant women in the issuance of health insurance policies." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Use of Healthcare-Account-Specific Debit Cards to Access Amounts in a Healthcare Account
Excerpt: "Unless and until the IRS liberalizes its position regarding the use of debit cards to access amounts in a Healthcare Account, employers should obtain assurance from their debit card provider that debit card services are being administered in accordance with Revenue Ruling 2003-43 and Notice 2006-69." (Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP)

Opinion: The Myth of Objective Health Insurance Advice
Excerpt: "The September 18, 2006 Wall Street Journal included a lead article regarding healthcare consultant conflicts of interest. It seems Journal reporters have discovered that parties paid to provide objective advice regarding health insurance to companies are, in fact, conflicted. These intermediaries are also receiving compensation from the health insurers." (Benchmark Financial Services, Inc.)

Fourth Circuit Interprets Ambiguous Policy Language Against Insurer
Excerpt: "In Carolina Care Plan Inc. v. McKenzie, 2006 WL 3000432 (4th Cir. 10/23/06), the defendant, Carolina Care Plan, Inc. (CCP), argued that, though it acted as administrator and insurer, its decision should receive substantial deference because the financial impact of the plaintiff's claim was minimal." (BNA Tax Management)

CCHIT Chairman Mark Leavitt Acknowledges Certified EHR Systems Might Lack Interoperability
Excerpt: "Just because HHS designated the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology a 'recognized certification body' last week and this designation -- according to theory -- makes its certification evidence of an electronic health record's interoperability, it doesn't necessarily mean that CCHIT-certified EHRs can actually 'talk to each other.'" (Modern Healthcare; one-time registration required)

National Committee Approves Information Network Requirements
Excerpt: "The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics on Monday approved a draft of minimum functional requirements for the National Health Information Network, Government Health IT reports. The draft, called 'Minimum but Inclusive Functional Requirements Needed for the Initial Definition of a Nationwide Health Information Network,' will be sent to HHS after edits have been made (Ferris, Government Health IT, 10/31). " (California HealthCare Foundation)

Letter to the Editor: Keeping a Lid on Health Care Costs
Excerpt: "With high deductibles and little information out there for even the most highly motivated of health-care shoppers, it's all too easy for those on a tight budget to be penny-wise but pound-foolish and skip a needed checkup or scheduled doctor visit." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

How to Identify a Self-Funded ERISA Plan
Excerpt: "[H]ow does an outsider to plan administration ascertain the self-funded status of a plan? For example, if an attorney representing a personal injury plaintiff receives a letter from a representative of the plan, how does the attorney know if the plan is self-funded or not? The consequences may be extremely significant since most States limit, and in some cases, prohibit, subrogation. These State laws are preempted if the plan is self-funded." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

More Employees Will See Consumer-Directed Options This Fall, According to Survey (PDF)
Pages 1, 7-8 of 9 pages. Excerpt: "The once-explosive growth of consumer-directed health (CDH) plans has cooled, but will remain strong during this fall's open-enrollment period, according to a new national survey of employee benefits consultants conducted by Inside Consumer-Directed Care (ICDC) newsletter and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS)." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Listing of IRS Published Guidance for January 2006 -- October 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: Accounting for Past Stock Option Transactions and Amending Prior Years' Filings (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Because of recent regulatory actions involving backdated options, numerous entities are reviewing past option granting practices to determine whether their employee (and certain director) options were accounted for correctly." (Grant Thornton LLP)

A Different Perspective -- That of the Benefit Plan Auditor
Excerpt: "First, the plan audit process is a lot more complicated than it used to be and over the next several years, plan sponsors are going to find it even more complex. Today the complexities arise from paperless systems, HIPAA and other privacy considerations, mergers and acquisition activity, service providers' desire to protect what they see as their proprietary interests and changing investment arrangements." (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Amending a Misleading Summary Plan Description
Excerpt: "The Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits have held that where a summary plan description ('SPD') conflicts with the terms of an employee benefit plan, the summary plan description may control." (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC)

CalPERS Seeks Injunction on UnitedHealth CEO's Options
Excerpt: "Pension fund CalPERS, the lead plaintiff in a shareholder suit against UnitedHealth Group Inc., wants a federal court to impose a string of financial restrictions on outgoing CEO William McGuire, including a freeze on his retirement package." (Reuters)

Overview: Executive Compensation and Related Person Disclosure (PDF)
11 pages. Excerpt: "This legal alert specifically addresses general information regarding the revisions to the disclosure rules for Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management; Transactions with Related Persons, Promoters and Certain Control Persons; and Corporate Governance." (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

409A Guidance 'Well Along,' Says Treasury Benefits Tax Counsel
Excerpt: "Daniel Hogans, attorney-advisor, Treasury Office of Benefits Tax Counsel, speaking at New York University's 65th Institute On Federal Taxation in New York on October 22, 2006, reported that, while the final regulations under Code Sec. 409A would not be released immediately, Treasury is 'well along in the process.'" (CCH Pension and Benefits)

Mercer International Headlines, October 25, 2006
Excerpt: "The top stories in this issue are as follows: Australia: Consultation on private health insurance legislation; Belgium: 2007 budget; Italy: TFR breakthrough; Stock option regime relaxed; Japan: Subsidy for supplemental leave pay; Netherlands: Unemployment benefit reform; FTK requirements to change; UK: NHS cost recovery scheme." (Mercer Human Resource Consulting LLC and Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.; registration required)

Research Project Abstract: Trends in the Labor Force Participation of Married Women
Excerpt: "[The authors] propose to construct a life-cycle including key determinants of married women's labor force participation and to estimate the new formulation's coefficients. This project would aid in understanding increased participation of married women, a dramatic trend that, due to spousal entitlements, has enhanced Social Security's solvency." (Regents of the University of Michigan)

SEC Says More Charges to Come in Stock Option Probe
Excerpt: "Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Christopher Cox said Monday new charges on suspicious timing of stock option grants can be expected in the near future, the Associated Press reports." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Prevalence, Characteristics and Employee Views of Financial Participation in Enterprises
Excerpt: "The past several decades have seen a dramatic increase in direct employee participation in the financial performance of private companies. From profit sharing, gain sharing and bonuses to a variety of employee ownership plans and broad-based stock options, employees in U.S. companies are increasingly receiving part of their compensation in performance-based 'shared capitalism' plans." (Beyster Institute)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

IRS Announces 2007 Standard Mileage Rates
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))

Treasury, IRS Issue Regulations on Requirements for Disclosing Reportable Transactions and Maintaining Lists
(U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service)

CIGNA HealthCare to Launch HealthePass(SM) to Assist Patients in Paying for Health Care
(CIGNA HealthCare)

Innovative Trust Fund Makes Payment to 40,000 USW Retirees and Spouses
(United Steelworkers of America (USWA))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Pension Recordkeeper
for Guidant Financial Group, Inc
in WI

Vice President-Eastern Region
for Great-West Retirement Services
in MA

Senior Counsel I - Employee Benefits
for Northrop Grumman Corporation
in CA

Employee Benefits Attorney
for Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)
in WA

Benefits Finance Manager
for NYU
in NY

Daily Val Recordkeeper
for Ingham Group
in SC

Client Services - Account Manager
for ExpertPlan, Inc.
in NJ

Assistant Defined Benefit Administrator
for The Pension Service, Inc.
in CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT




Handy Links:

NOTE TO AOL MEMBERS: PLEASE DO NOT REPORT THIS EMAIL AS SPAM. This email is not unsolicited. We do not send unsolicited email. This email is coming to you because you asked to receive it by entering your email address on our web page at

https://benefitslink.com/newsletter/

These emails are sent each workday except federal holidays.

This email has been published by:
BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park FL 32789
(407) 644-4146
Fax: (407) 644-2151

David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor

Copyright 2006 BenefitsLink.com, Inc.; except that you can forward this email in full (including this boilerplate part) or otherwise reprint this email in full (including this boilerplate part) without obtaining our permission.

Anyone can receive these emails; just have them sign up at this web page: https://benefitslink.com/newsletter/

Other useful links: