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November 29, 2006
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Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.

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

National Survey of Enrollees in Consumer-Directed Health Plans
Excerpt: "This Kaiser survey looks at the views and experiences of people enrolled in consumer-directed health plans as compared to people with traditional health insurance. [The target page provides links to the Summary, the Chartpack, and the Toplines.]" (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Impact of Consumer-Directed Health Plans with Integrated Health Improvement Services on Consumers (PDF)
22 pages. Excerpt: "In the real world . . . car owners pay for their own gas, parking and maintenance, and thus are motivated to behave responsibly. This paper analyzes the consumer-directed health care concept that applies the same common-sense approach to addressing the nation's health care cost crisis." (Aon Consulting)

Opinion: Stemming the Public Employee Pension Benefit Tide
Excerpt: "Our view: Proposal to cut health benefits for retired county employees likely to spread[.] Public employee unions should take notice: Soon there may be less to feast on at the taxpayer-funded benefit trough." (North County Times)

A New Push for Paid Family Leave in New Jersey
Excerpt: "New Jersey legislators have been trying for years to pass a bill that would offer money to people . . . who need time off work to care for a sick family member or for a newborn. Called paid family leave, the measures have always failed amid heavy opposition from businesses who didn't want to pay for the program." (AP via The Ledger)

Mothers in Ireland to Get Another Four Weeks' Paid Maternity Leave
Excerpt: "Social Affairs Minister SEamus Brennan is extending maternity benefit entitlements within the next few months. Paid maternity leave is currently fixed at 22 weeks, with the option of an additional 12 weeks unpaid leave." (Daily Mail via Human Resource Executive Online)

Commentary: Supreme Court Sends Back ERISA Denial of Benefits Cases to Ninth Circuit
Excerpt: "In light of [the Abatie] decision in August, the Supreme Court yesterday sent a similar ERISA case, Metropolitan Life Insurance v. Hawkins-Dean, 04-55277, 161 Fed. Appx. 684 (9th Cir. 2006) . . . back to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration under this new conflict of interest standard." (Workplace Prof Blog)

It's Hard to Pin an ROI on the Flexible Workplace, But IT Managers Say It Pays Off
Excerpt: "Actual ROI figures are hard to come by, but executives can point to tangible returns, from good retention rates to more complete disaster recovery plans. They say the bottom line is this: By giving employees flexibility, a company gets a better, more committed workforce that can help keep it up and running, even during natural or man-made catastrophes. And that has a real dollar value." (Computerworld)

Companies Plan to Close More Days for 2007 Holidays, According to Survey
Excerpt: "A recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that more employers plan to close their offices the day after Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas in 2007 than in 2006." (; free registration required)

Bogus Sick Days Down from Last Year, According to Survey
Excerpt: "A recent survey found 32% of workers polled called in sick at least once when they felt well during 2006, down from 43% who did so in 2005." (; free registration required)

Privacy Article: RFID Use in Health Care Raises Privacy Questions (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "This article written by Mintz Levin attorneys Linda Bentley, Dianne Bourque and Russell Fox and printed in the November 17 - 23, 2006 issue of the Boston Business Journal discusses newly developed technology that enables doctors to monitor patients wirelessly in several ways but raises questions related to privacy protection." (Boston Business Journal via Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)

Wal-Mart, Intel, British Petroleum to Collaborate to Promote Use of Electronic Health Records
Excerpt: "Last summer at the request of CDC, Wal-Mart and Intel joined together on the plan after meeting separately with the agency to discuss individual company efforts to reduce health costs. According to the Journal, the goal of the collaboration is to reduce health spending by having patients coordinate their own health care among hospitals, pharmacies and physicians." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

HHS Developing Emergency-Responder Health IT Use
Excerpt: "The Health and Human Services Department is developing details of an emergency-responder electronic health record as another early use for health IT. HHS plans to publish the final detailed use case in December, according to John Loonsk, director of interoperability and standards with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT." (Government Computer News)

Opinion: More Senior Citizens Will Gain Access to Cheaper Drugs Sold in Can.ada
Excerpt: "Prescription drugs produced by U.S. companies are indeed cheaper in Can.ada, but not because drug companies want them that way. They are cheaper because Can.ada imposes price controls on drugs. Americans pay the full amount; Canadians, and the rest of the world for that matter, don't." (Bloomberg News)

Edited Transcript of Interview with Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Health Care
Excerpt: "Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks with Truthdig contributor Joshua Scheer about the state of health care in America, his bill with Rep. John Conyers to provide universal coverage and why progress is inevitable." ( via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Overview: DOL Clarification of Interaction Between HSAs and ERISA
Excerpt: "In Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2006-2, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) draws the lines more clearly between practices that do and don't make a health savings account (HSA) subject to ERISA, something most employers prefer to avoid. Earlier guidance on the subject had left employers somewhat confused about what constituted a 'safe' level of involvement." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: FASB Final Statement on Accounting Reform for Postretirement Benefits
Excerpt: "The final statement builds on the Exposure Draft released March 31, 2006. It clarifies many of the questions raised by various stakeholders during the last few months and is consistent with decisions made by the board during the re-deliberation process. This release finalizes phase one of the accounting reforms for postretirement benefit plans and amends FASB Statements No. 87, 88, 106 and 132(R)." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Why Do Boomers Plan to Work So Long?
Excerpt: "Recent changes in retirement trends and patterns have raised questions about the likely retirement behavior of baby boomers, the large cohort born between 1946 and 1964. This study compares the retirement expectations of workers ages 51 to 56 in 2004 (who were born between 1948 and 1953, the leading edge of the baby boom) and 1992 (born between 1936 and 1941)." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Splitting Stock Options in a Divorce
Excerpt: "Unlike the IRA or the Porsche--assets that are easy to identify, value and transfer upon divorce--unexercised stock options granted during a marriage, or even immediately after a marriage ends, can be the source of headaches, not only for the divorcing parties themselves but, in some cases, even for the companies granting those options." (

Fiduciary Breach Claims Must Seek Relief for Whole Plan Says Court
Excerpt: "The US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ruled that claims alleging a fiduciary breach by a retirement plan trustee must seek recovery for such breach on behalf of the plan as a whole, and not individual participant accounts." (; free registration required)

Wall Street Journal Letter to Editor Questions 'Highly Paid' Executives' Health Care Benefits
Excerpt: "A Nov. 20 Wall Street Journal editorial on a health insurance proposal recently released by America's Health Insurance Plans indicated that individuals should take more responsibility for their health care costs through enrollment in high-deductible health plans, a recommendation that might 'resonate' with economists but that also raises questions about coverage for 'highly paid corporate executives,' Uwe Reinhardt, a professor . . . at Princeton University, writes . . . ." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Overview: Drafting Employee Severance Agreements and Releases (PDF)
Pages 12-15 of 16 pages. Excerpt: "[O]btaining a release of claims in exchange for severance or other benefits is usually a good investment. Generally, the amount of severance pales in comparison to the costs of defending a lawsuit and the potential liability of a successful claim." (Jenkens & Gilchrist)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Year-End Update on HSAs, HRAs and Health FSAs Teleweb
in California on December 14, 2006
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!) Announces The Release of Its Cash Balance Plan Document

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Documentation Specialist
for The Senex Group
in CA

Pension Administrator
for The Senex Group
in CA

401(k)/Defined Contribution Valuation Processor
for National Retirement Services, Inc.
in CA, NC

Business Analyst, Product Development (Employee Benefits)
for WageWorks, Inc.
in CA

Assistant Pension Administrator (Defined Benefits)
for Qualified Benefits, Inc - QBI (a wholly owned subsidiary of BenefitStreet, Inc.)
in CA

Benefits Planning & Communications Specialist
for The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
in NY

Marketing Director
for BISYS Retirement Services
in PA

Account Specialist Underwriting and Licensing
for Nolan Financial
in DC, MD

401K Administrator
for Paycor
in OH

Annuity Claims Specialist
for Mutual of Omaha
in NE

Pension Software Business Analyst
for Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.
in IL

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