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November 15, 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)

ERISA Implications for State Health Care Access Initiatives: Maryland Fair Share Act Court Decision (PDF)
14 pages. Excerpt: "[ERISA] complicates state efforts to include employer financing in initiatives to expand access to health care. This issue brief discusses implications of the recent court decision holding that ERISA preempts one such law, the Maryland Fair Share Health Care Fund Act." (State Coverage Initiatives)

Massachusetts Health Insurers Question Minimum Requirements Under State's Health Care Law
Excerpt: "Some insurers say they will not sell coverage to companies providing the minimum level of health insurance to comply with the state's new health insurance law, because the minimum threshold set for Massachusetts employers to avoid an assessment is too low, the Boston Globe reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Massachusetts Insurer To Question Mental Health Patients About Personal Lives
Excerpt: "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts in 2007 plans to begin requesting mental health patients to fill out questionnaires 'designed to gauge a patient's state of mind,' the Boston Globe reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Subrogation Claim Reaches UIM Coverage but Fails to Avert Make Whole Defense
Excerpt: "'Nowhere in the plan language is there a suggestion, let alone a clear statement, that a plan beneficiary is signing away his or her make whole rights. Neither the make whole doctrine nor any euphemism sounding like the make whole doctrine is mentioned in the plan. Similarly, application of the make whole doctrine as a 'gap filler' would not contravene any statement from the plan heretofore quoted to the Court by the parties.'" (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Time Benefits to Their San Francisco Employees (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "On November 7, 2006, more than 60% of the San Francisco, California residents who voted cast their ballot in favor of 'Measure F.' Measure F would enact a 'Sick Leave Ordinance' . . . that requires all employers to provide paid sick time benefits to their employees who work within the City and County of San Francisco (collectively, San Francisco). " (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Implementation Resources for Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety (HELPS) Retirees Act
Excerpt: "[T]he Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety (HELPS) Retirees Act, was signed into law on August 17, 2006 as part of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-280). The HELPS Retirees Act takes effect on January 1, 2007 and will allow a yearly disbursement of up to $3,000 pre-tax from a governmental defined benefit pension, 403(b) or 457 plan to retired public safety officers for use toward health care insurance and/or long-term care insurance premiums." (National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems)

Court Says Divorce Notification Triggers COBRA Rights
Excerpt: "The date of a notification about a divorce between a health plan beneficiary and her husband triggered the plan's obligation to inform the beneficiary of her continuing coverage rights, a judge has ruled." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

State of Vermont Is First State to Implement a Public/Private Chronic Care Information System
Excerpt: "Vermont has embarked on a ground-breaking effort to improve the health of patients with chronic illnesses and at the same time control rampaging health care costs. . . . [T]he Chronic Care Information System [is] a secure, Web-based registry, designed to enable doctors to track complex details of patient care, exchange information with specialists, compare the type of treatment they are providing to national standards of care, and measure their patients' progress." (Rutland [Vermont] Herald)

The Public's Views on the Health Care System: A National Survey on the Issues and Options
11 pages. Excerpt: "Instead of assessing support for specific health reform initiatives, this study examines fundamental attitudes that shape views about the provision and financing of health insurance. We find strong support for equity and expansion of coverage, with few differences across sociodemographic groups, but some support for holding individuals responsible for health-related behavior." (Health Affairs)

Developing a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Health Care Information
14 pages. Excerpt: "Careful consideration needs to be given regarding the appropriate structure, placement, financing, and function of an agency devoted to comparative effectiveness if it is to achieve its objective: a mechanism to support better decision making in health care." (Health Affairs)

Hospitals May Want to Wait on Giving a Physician Practice Software, Hardware and IT Services
Excerpt: "According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, such donations to physician practices could endanger a hospital's tax exemption." (AISHealth.com)

Overview: Employers' Views on Incremental Measures to Expand Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Even in the face of rapid premium growth, employers overall maintain a positive view of health benefits -- as a way to attract and retain highly qualified workers and a means of improving the health and performance of their workforces." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Researchers Estimate Health Tax Expenditure Costs
Excerpt: "Total federal and state 'tax subsidies' for employer-sponsored health coverage will average about $2,778 per worker this year." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free registration required)

California Agency Plans Move That Would Make It Harder for Insurers to Drop Sick Policyholders
Excerpt: "Cindy Ehnes, director of the Department of Managed Health Care, is expected to propose that insurers be required to maintain coverage unless they show an individual lied about his or her medical condition to obtain it." (Los Angeles Times via The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights)

Employers Don't Want to Provide Health Benefits, But Don't Want Government Intrusion, Either
Excerpt: "Large and mid-size employers are 'between a rock and hard place' when it comes to health benefits: They are both unable to manage their health care costs effectively or simply get out of offering these benefits entirely." (Health Affairs)

State Health Notes: Vital Signs for State Policymakers, November 13, 2006 (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "STATE NEWS States are focusing on one of the most difficult but necessary issues in mental health care: improving coordination between agencies and services. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana is contemplating overhauling its charity hospital system. In an effort to reduce medical errors and costs, New Hampshire plans to be the first state to have all its health-care providers prescribe electronically." (National Conference of State Legislatures)

U.S. Retirement Perspective: Rx for Retiree Health Care: Diagnosing the Issues
Excerpt: "This article [describes] the ways in which [offering postretirement health care benefits] can add value to a business." (Mercer Human Resource Consulting LLC and Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.; free registration required)

More Banks Offer Health Savings Accounts and Additional Benefits
Excerpt: "The number of banks that offer health savings accounts has more than tripled since the end of 2005, as more employees enroll in high-deductible health plans that qualify for HSAs, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview of the New Proxy Pension Benefits Table
Excerpt: "Many public companies are now drafting their proxies and dealing with the new proxy disclosure rules. One of the tables for many companies is the Pension Benefits Table. For each named executive officer, this table needs to list on a separate line each qualified defined benefit plan as well as each nonqualified defined benefit plan such as a SERP that the officer participates in." (BNA Pension & Benefits Blog)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Interactive COBRA Seminar (webcast) 2pm est- 3pm est for three successive weeks
Nationwide on December 6, 2006
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Disconnect Between Employers, Employees Threatens Loss of Key Workers, Watson Wyatt Finds
(Watson Wyatt)

PBGC Releases Fiscal Year 2006 Financial Results
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

Default Investment Regulations Sweep Far Beyond Auto-Enrollment
(ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Tax/Employee Benefits Attorney
for Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP
in NY

401(k) Administrator
for BMI
in MO

Sr Communications Consultant
for T. Rowe Price
in MD

Senior Pension Calculations Analyst
for Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.
in IL

401K Sales Manager
for Payroll Associates, LLC
in NJ

Employee Benefits Health and Welfare Attorney
for Krieg DeVault LLP
in IL, IN, KY, MI, WI

Retirement Specialist
for Memorial Hermann
in TX

Pension Administrator
for California Retirement Plans, Inc.
in CA

401(k) Plan Technician/Administrator
for Pension Administrative Services, Inc. (PASI)
in CT

Business Systems Consultant
for Wells Fargo
in MN

Internal Wholesaler
for The Phoenix Companies
in CT




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