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December 18, 2006

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Massachusetts Health Plan Drawing Interest As Model for U.S.
Excerpt: "Universal healthcare, an issue the White House and Congress have largely abandoned since the early 1990s, has reemerged as an issue on Capitol Hill and around the country, with lawmakers looking to Massachusetts' landmark plan as a political and structural model for the nation's 46 million uninsured." (The Boston Globe)

States Struggle to Cover Retirees -- Medical Liabilities Exceed $1 Trillion
Excerpt: "State and local governments are starting to take aggressive steps to reduce the enormous cost of providing health care benefits to retired teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public workers." (USA TODAY)

Economic View: The More You Pay, the Better the Health Care? Think Twice
Excerpt: "Experts have long been puzzled by the existence of large regional disparities in medical care in the United States. Even for diseases for which the appropriate treatment is widely accepted, doctors across the country take vastly different approaches, often leading to enormous expense without making any appreciable improvement in their patients' health." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Overview: Feds Ease FSA Debit Card Transition
Excerpt: "At least temporarily, supermarkets and other retail stores with pharmacy sections and pharmacies that sell large amounts of merchandise other than health care products can accept health account debit cards, IRS officials write in IRS Notice 2007-2, 'Section 105.-Amounts Received Under Accident and Health Plans.'" (National Underwriter Life & Health; free registration or paid subscription required)

Employers Say Intermittent Leave Hardest Part of FMLA Compliance, According to IFEBP Survey
Excerpt: "Eighty-four percent of those organizations that must abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offer some form of paid vacation, but approximately 25% to 30% of them offer paid leave for some situations not required by the act, according to a recent survey." (; free registration required)

Fourth Circuit Joins Circuits Limiting Section 502(a)(3) Fiduciary Breach Claims
Excerpt: "The recent case, Korotynska v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., highlights yet another split in the Circuits as to the proper interpretation of ERISA in the familiar battleground of ERISA Section 502(a)(3). Distilled to the core issue, the circuits disagree on whether Varity Corp. v. Howe, 516 U.S. 489, 514-15, 116 S.Ct. 1065, 134 L.Ed.2d 130 (1996), allows simultaneous claims under section (a)(1)(b) and section (a)(3)." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Healthcare IT Legislation Possible in 2007, Lawmakers Say
Excerpt: "Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that healthcare IT is near the top of the long list of healthcare agenda items for Congress to address next year. Passing a healthcare IT bill is possible in 2007, according to Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga. )." (Healthcare IT News)

Fact Sheet: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance in the United States in 2005 (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "A majority of the nation's total population (67.7 percent) was covered by a private insurance plan for some or all of 2005. Other sources of insurance included government coverage through Medicare (13.7 percent), Medicaid (13.0 percent), and military health care (3.8 percent)." (AARP)

Tight Budgets May Constrain What the Democrats Can Do About Health Care in 2007
Excerpt: "Capitol Hill staffers gave that assessment here earlier this week during a briefing on health care sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform, Washington." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free registration or paid subscription required)

Overview: Congress Passes Health Savings Account Legislation
Excerpt: "Congress recently passed the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. Title III of the bill is the 'Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act of 2006', or HOPE Act. The HOPE Act will make several important changes to the HSA rules -- most of which are effective January 1, 2007. President Bush is expected to sign the bill." (Wolters Kluwer Financial Services)

Regulatory Reform for Equality Laws to Address Work-Family Conflict in Australia
Excerpt: "Work-family balance is clearly on the corporate agenda, with a plethora of corporate initiatives being promoted as family-friendly across Australia. But what regulatory mechanisms - public or private - are in place to prompt, facilitate and universalise such corporate initiatives to integrate more fully those employees who undertake both paid work and unpaid, domestic caring responsibilities?" (Sydney Law Review via Social Science Research Network)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

A Push to Fix Sarbanes-Oxley
Excerpt: "The Sarbanes-Oxley law was approved in 2002 as lawmakers grew concerned that they might be swept out of office by millions of middle- and lower-income investors who owned their share of the marketplace through mutual funds, IRA's, 401 (k)'s, and 529 college-savings programs. [This Thursday,] a judge will consider a case that challenges the validity of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a new agency created by the Sarbanes-Oxley law to oversee auditors." (The New York Times; free registration required)

New Jersey Lawmakers Pass Civil Unions Bill
Excerpt: "The Garden State is set to become the third state in the nation to offer civil unions, with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine promising to sign legislation approved Thursday by the state legislature." (; free registration required)

'Lucky' Stock Options Not Limited to Executives: Study Finds Board Members Profit, Too
Excerpt: "Chief executives weren't the only ones enjoying near-guaranteed profits from stock options in the past decade. Outside directors at hundreds of American companies also received option grants that are likely to have been manipulated, a new study found." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Holiday Gifts for Health Plan Sponsors: Final HIPAA Non-Discrimination Regulations, Wellness Plans and New HSA Opportunities
Nationwide on January 9, 2007
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Pension Protection Act and the Changing Landscape of Retirement
in Missouri on February 1, 2007
presented by A.G. Edwards

Retirement as a Time to Reinvent, Rewire and Renew: Educating Employees about Total Retirement Planning
Nationwide on December 20, 2006
presented by International Foundation for Retirement Education (InFRE)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Chicago Federal Court Shuts Down Health Care Reimbursement Tax Fraud Scheme
U.S. Department of Justice

Resolve To Save and Invest in 2007: Alliance For Investor Education Highlights 11 Best Resources For Consumers
Alliance for Investor Education

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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401(k) Client Relationship Manager
for The Douglas Group
in NJ, NY, PA, TX

Assistant Service Delivery
for Philip Morris USA
in VA

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