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December 5, 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)

With a Democratic Congress, Groups Gear Up for Fight Over Paid Sick Days
Excerpt: "[S]upporters are planning a big push for sick day legislation not just in Congress, but in Maine, Maryland, Montana and several other states." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Communicating Medicare Part D Choices to Public Sector Medicare-Eligible Participants (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This issue complements Segal's Public Sector Letter on Medicare Part D choices for 2007 and beyond at http://www.segalco.com/publications/publicsectorletters/sept2006.pdf. Carefully crafted communications can help allay fears, demonstrate employers' commitment to retirees and explain the implications of signing up for Part D for their employer-sponsored retiree prescription drug coverage." (The Segal Group, Inc.)

Text of Present Law and Background Relating to Tax Exemptions and Incentives for Higher Education (PDF)
46 pages. Excerpt: "This document, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, provides a description of present law and a discussion of selected issues arising with respect to Federal tax benefits provided to tax exempt colleges and universities and various education related tax incentives." (U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation)

Overview of DOL Request for Employer Comments about Experience with the FMLA (PDF)
Excerpt: "This request is significant because the FMLA regulations have not been amended since they were implemented in 1995, and this RFI may signal DOL's willingness to propose changes. Thus, the DOL's action presents an important opportunity for employers to share with DOL the problems and concerns they have faced in complying with the FMLA." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Employer Required to Continue Group Dental Coverage for Employees Taking FMLA Leave
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: In addition to being a wake-up call for anyone who thinks that the FMLA just applies to major medical plans, this opinion provides a helpful discussion of the exclusion from the group health plan definition under the FMLA. The exclusion is similar (but not identical) to the safe harbor exception from Title I of ERISA for certain voluntary employee-pay-all benefits." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Prescription Drug Abuse Deemed Gross Misconduct in Workplace
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: As the court noted, COBRA does not define gross misconduct and the relevant case law has not created clear guidance. Some courts look to state law for guidance (state unemployment laws often define gross misconduct for that purpose), but the court was not influenced by the decision of the state agency in this case (presumably a state unemployment compensation agency)." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Health Care IT Implementation Delayed by Privacy Concerns
Excerpt: "[T]he House and Senate have passed separate bills to promote the use of health care IT. However, passage of a final bill remains delayed over concerns about the privacy of medical records." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

2006 Highlights and Reminders to Update Your Health Benefit Policies for 2007 (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "The purpose of this Alert is to highlight new compliance, operational and regulatory requirements that became effective in 2006 or will become effective in 2007." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Plan's Suit Against Hospital for Overpayment Dismissed Based Upon Knudson Analysis
Excerpt: "In Vacca v. Trinitas Hosp.Slip Copy, 2006 WL 3314637 (E.D.N.Y.) (Nov. 14, 2006), the plan trustees and the claims administrator filed suit against a hospital that refused to return monies allegedly paid to the hospital in error. The plaintiffs contended that the claims were inadvertently paid at the rate applicable to in-network providers which resulted in a $38,790.13 overpayment." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Health Hazard: Computers Spilling Your History
Excerpt: "[IT] legislation has bogged down, largely because of differences over how to balance the health care industry's interest in efficiently collecting, studying and using data with privacy concerns for tens of millions of ordinary Americans -- not just celebrities and victims of crime." (The New York Times; free registration required)

A Review of What the Public Really Wants on Health Care (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "[W]hat kind of changes does the public want and whom do they believe should make those changes? By and large, the public strongly favors moving toward a system that provides health care for all and expects the government to play a leading role in making that happen." (The Century Foundation)

Health Care Coverage Costs Key in Raytheon Strike
Excerpt: "A major union complaint in the labor dispute at Raytheon Missile Systems is that pay raises will be eaten up by the rising cost of health benefits, but the reality is more complicated than that." (Arizona Daily Star)

Bosses Push Staff to Eat Right and Exercise
Excerpt: "Many companies are starting to sound like moms: They're pushing employees to eat their vegetables and go outside and play. And they're not being gentle about it." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)

Health Savings Accounts: A Research Guide
Entitled "A Brief Guide to the Latest Research Available on Consumer-Directed Health Plans" (Galen Institute)

Impact of Technical Corrections to the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act
Excerpt: "This client advisory focuses on the impact of technical corrections on employers and employer-sponsored group health plans. The Act contains four new health-care-related requirements imposed directly on employers and another four requirements that, though directed at health insurance issuers, will materially affect the design of employer-sponsored group heath plans." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.)

Overview of Health Care Fraud Investigations in the U.S. (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Over the last decade, the number and significance of healthcare fraud and abuse investigations brought by US federal and state governments regarding the marketing activities of pharma.ceutical and medical device companies has grown steadily." (Practical Law Company via Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Most Small Businesses Offer Health Benefits but Oppose Government Mandating Them
Excerpt: "NAPEO's first quarterly survey found: Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the respondents said state and local governments should not require employers to provide health benefits. Laws mandating health benefits were proposed in more than 40 states and in several municipalities this year and are expected to be debated again in 2007." (National Association of Professional Employer Organizations)

California Governor May Ask Employers to Shoulder Worker Coverage, But Is Seeking Other Ideas
Excerpt: "As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's team of health care consultants prepares a plan for overhauling California's $200 billion health care industry, administration officials say the governor is willing to consider all solutions -- including those that may be unpopular with the governor's allies in the business community." (The Sacramento Bee via Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Benefits Communications Consultancy Urges Communication of Real Cost of Work-Related Benefits
Excerpt: "Most employees simply focus on how much money they are being paid at the end of each month and fail to appreciate what their employer is spending on 'hidden' workplace benefits, so leading them to believe they are worse off than they actually are, a U.S. study has suggested." (management-issues.com)

Overview: IRS Developments on Compliance with Section 409A (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The operations of the arrangement (I am distinguishing operations from the written plan) do not need to conform with the IRC 409A regulations this year, but also are extended until 2007. Until then employers may rely upon 'reasonable good faith' compliance with the new Code section; a number of compliance alternatives are available to the employer in this regard." (The ERISA Law Group, P.A.)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Testing Techniques
Nationwide on February 1, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel

Participant Forms and Notices Workshop
Nationwide on February 1, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel

Plan Design Workshop - Strategies for PPA
in Michigan on January 17, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel

Plan Design Workshop - Strategies for PPA
in California on January 18, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel

Plan Design Workshop - Strategies for PPA
in Arizona on January 19, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel

Plan Design Workshop - Strategies for PPA
in Ohio on January 19, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PBGC Announces Maximum Insurance Benefit for 2007
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

EBRI: Time for Retirement Benefits Checkup
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

Meritain Health Acquires CBSA PERFORMAX
PERFORMAX

Dorsa Consulting Assists State Governments & Municipalities Seeking Compliance With New Governmental Accounting Standards
Dorsa Consulting

Caregiver Discrimination Lawsuits Against Employers Increase
NavGate Technologies

Delta, PBGC Reach Agreement on Delta Pilot Pension Plan
Delta Air Lines, Inc.


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Plan Administrator/Analyst
for The Pension Group, Inc.
in CA

Consultant
for Louis Kravitz & Associates
in CA

Pension Assistant
for Retirement Plan Administrators, LLC
in GA

Pension Administrator
for TPA Firm
in PA

Defined Contributions Service Delivery Manager
for Affiliated Computer Services
in NJ

Account Manager
for Nova 401(k) Associates
in TX

Retirement Services Specialist
for Administaff
in TX

Employee Benefits Specialist
for Steptoe & Johnson PLLC
in WV




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