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January 11, 2007

Sponsored by: Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers

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An Annual Check-Up for your Health Care Plan

Is your health care plan in shape? It may be time for a check-up. Plan sponsors are experiencing a myriad of cost vs. quality symptoms and conventional treatment is falling short of providing the cure -- quality health care at an affordable price. Treatments vary, and there are a number of strategies to consider. Which features are right for your plan? Find out at the Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers, March 2528, in Orlando, Florida. This event can help your health care plan get back in shape!

Bridling at Insulin's Cost, States Pushing for Generics
Excerpt: "As they examine their state health care budgets, 11 of the nation's governors have identified one big-ticket item they think should cost less: insulin." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Many Workers at Wal-Mart Don't Use Its Health Plans: 43% Covered Elsewhere
Excerpt: "About 90 percent of Wal-Mart employees have health-care coverage, but 43 percent do not get it from the mammoth retailer, relying instead on benefits from a spouse, federal programs or even their parents, according to an internal survey the company made public yesterday." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

California Health Care Plan Looks Much Like Massachusetts
Excerpt: "Several policy advocates who shaped the sweeping Massachusetts plan enacted into law last year recently briefed lawmakers and business groups in California. What they said is reflected in Schwarzenegger's proposal, which he detailed Monday, and in competing plans unveiled by the California Legislature in December." (The Boston Globe)

Comments on California Governor Schwarzenegger's Health Care Proposal
Excerpt: "Gov. Schwarzenegger's ten page proposal cannot be fully addressed here, but a brief discussion of the general concepts can give us a perspective as to whether this would achieve his stated goals of affordable health care for everyone." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Audio: States Take Up Mandatory Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Guests discuss state-mandated health coverage, and listeners share their thoughts on how the idea has worked so far." (Talk of the Nation via National Public Radio)

Overview of the Universal Health Plan Touted by Sen. Kennedy
Excerpt: "The plan will be financed by a combination of payroll taxes and general revenues. Eighty-five percent of the financing will come from payroll taxes and 15% from general revenues. A preliminary estimate of the payroll tax financing necessary will be a payment of 7% of payroll by businesses and 1.7% by workers. By comparison, businesses providing coverage today spend an average of 13% of payroll to cover their workers." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Opinion: Pumping Up the Universal Health Coverage Debate
Excerpt: "[California,] unlike Massachusetts, has many more uninsured residents and lower rates of existing employer coverage. There is some question whether the success of other states in achieving universal coverage would be a national model. But if universal coverage can work in California, it can happen anywhere." (The Century Foundation)

Podcast on Universal Health Care
Excerpt: "Listen to [the January 10] podcast on universal health care, featuring an interview with NCSL's Health Program Director Richard Cauchi." (The Buzz @ State Legislatures)

Overview: Guidance Issued on HIPAA Nondiscrimination Rules
Excerpt: "[HIPAA] requirements include a rule that prohibits the eligibility and employee contribution provisions of a health plan from discriminating against an individual because of an adverse health condition and a range of other protected health factors. Distinctions based on bona fide employment-based classifications are permitted." (Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP)

Overview: Final HIPAA Rules on Nondiscrimination Fine-Tune Interim Rules
Excerpt: "A separate, but related, set of final regulations have been issued by the IRS that provide guidance under Code Sec. 9802(c) relating to the exception to the HIPAA nondiscrimination rules for certain grand-fathered church plans." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

A Discussion on Using the Offset Defense in Recoupment Cases
Excerpt: "Finch v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of America, -- F.Supp.2d -- -, 2006 WL 3735373 (D.Minn.) (December 18, 2006) raises a number of interesting issues in the evolving caselaw of equitable recoupment. The case presents a simple factual pattern of a series of disability payments to plan participants followed by a demand for reimbursement when the plaintiffs received Social Security benefits." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

San Francisco's Paid Sick Time Law to Take Effect February 5, 2007 (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "[E]mployers must post the required notice about the Ordinance in their San Francisco workplaces where it can be readily viewed by employees. The workplace poster required by the Ordinance can be printed from:" (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

First Circuit Outlines Requirements for an Employee's Eligibility for FMLA Leave
Excerpt: "It is critical for employers to understand the Rucker decision when determining an employee's eligibility for FMLA leave. More specifically, employers now must consider the length of an employee's prior terms of employment (if any) when determining if the employee has met the 12-month and 1,250 hour service thresholds for FMLA eligibility." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.)

Paid Parental Leave After the Birth of a Child Promoted for Federal Employees
Excerpt: "Naturally, young federal employees would like the government to offer such family leave, but personnel officials have balked, saying that the government already provides a generous package of vacation and sick leave and that more paid time off would not improve recruitment and retention of employees." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Firms Warm Up to Family-Friendly Policies
Excerpt: "[A] growing number of employers are recognizing the family needs of their employees. Called 'family friendly' by some, these companies feature on-site day-care centers, flexible work schedules and employees, like Wyneken, who are allowed to bring their children into work, if they need to. Company owners say the extra effort is worth it because they get much in return - such as loyal employees, reduced turnover and increased productivity." (Scripps Howard News Service via Abilene Reporter-News)

Medicare Price Negotiations: A Resource Guide
The target page is a listing of events, papers, and articles to help frame the debate. (Galen Institute)

DOD Proposes Rules on Double Coverage under Tricare and Medicare Part D Drug Programs
Excerpt: "The proposed regulations would prescribe double coverage payment procedures and make revisions to the existing TRICARE rules to accommodate beneficiaries who are eligible under both Medicare and TRICARE, and who participate in Medicare's outpatient prescription drug program under Medicare Part D." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated January 9, 2007, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
3 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans. (Hewitt Associates)

Opinion: Is Big Business the Force that Will Bring about Universal Health Insurance?
Excerpt: "Business leaders have traditionally been reluctant to call for a national effort to confront the issue. 'We have people who map the genome or conquer the Internet who seem rather timid about speaking out on what's good for the country,' said Andy Stern, president of the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union. That reluctance began to change in 2004 . . . ." (AARP via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Overview of Changes to Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "US employers that sponsor health savings accounts (HSAs) as part of a consumer- directed health care program should be aware of changes to the law governing such accounts. As a result of these changes, many employers may want to take advantage of newly available enhancements to HSAs or to reconsider the role that HSAs might play in their benefit packages." (Mercer Human Resource Consulting LLC and Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.; free registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

New Executive Pay Disclosures Coming
Excerpt: "Investors will soon have a new scorecard designed to lay out in plain English just how much pay and perks are being lavished on top executives at public companies. . . . The new disclosures, in annual reports and proxy statements that will begin arriving later this month, will come closer than ever to a full accounting of total compensation for companies' top two executives and the next three highest-paid executives." (AP Online via NewsEdge Corporation via Human Resource Executive Online; free registration required)

Working Paper Abstract: Optimal Executive Compensation vs. Managerial Power
Excerpt: "This essay reviews Bebchuk and Fried's 'Pay without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation'. Bebchuk and Fried criticize the standard view of executive compensation, in which executives negotiate contracts with shareholders that provide incentives that motivate them to maximize the shareholders' welfare." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Presentation by Comptroller General: Fiscal, Social Security, and Health Care Challenges, January 7 (PDF)
47 pages. Excerpt: "The federal government is on a 'burning platform,' and the status quo way of doing business is unacceptable for a variety of reasons, including: Past fiscal trends and significant long-range challenges; Rising public expectations for demonstrable results and enhanced responsiveness; Selected trends and challenges having no boundaries . . . ." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide for January 9, 2007, on Human Resources & Employment Law (PDF)
1 page. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)

Compliance Calendar on Compensation & Benefit Due Dates for Filing of Legal and Regulatory Reports (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "This valuable reference tool identifies the benefit plans affected for each required filing along with details on each due date." (Hewitt Associates)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser Retirement Capital Group, Inc.
Excerpt: "[Retirement Capital Group, Inc. (RCG) is a full service executive benefits firm that is committed to helping companies attract, retain, and appropriately compensate and reward their talented executives. This is accomplished first with a thorough assessment of a company's goals, financial and tax status, and more. RCG's recommendations are customized to meet each client's needs. .]" (

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Eligible 457 Plans in 2007
Nationwide on January 30, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel

Engaging the Consumer to Deliver on the Promise of HSAs
in California on January 24, 2007
presented by DST Health Solutions

First Quarter 2007 Update - Webcast
Nationwide on February 12, 2007
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Fixing Problems with Form 5500 Filings - Webcast
Nationwide on March 29, 2007
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Form 5500 Update - 2007 - Webcast
Nationwide on March 27, 2007
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Future Care 2007 Healthcare Web Summit Event
in California on January 16, 2007
presented by Healthcare Web Summit

Introduction to Retirement Plans - Webcast
Nationwide on April 10, 2007
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

National Employee Benefits Summit
in Georgia on June 19, 2007
presented by Health Affairs & Harvard Health Policy Review

Pension Law - 2006 - Webcast
Nationwide on January 18, 2007
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Second National Consumer-Driven Healthcare Summit
in District of Columbia on September 26, 2007
presented by Health Affairs & Harvard Health Policy Review

SouthWest Benefits Association Annual Conference
in New Mexico on May 2, 2007
presented by SouthWest Benefits Association

The 401k Service Training ProgramTM accredited by Robert Morris University
in Pennsylvania on February 8, 2007
presented by Financial Service Standards, LLC.

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on New Distribution Provisions of the Pension Protection Act
U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service

Newkirk Adds Gap Analysis to Targeted Communications Suite
Newkirk Products, Inc.

WPO's 2007 Work-Life Promotional Kit Helps EAPs and Employers Increase Awareness and Participation in their Work-Life Employee Benefits Programs
Workplace Options Announces the Availability of 2005 5500 Data For Customer Use

SaveDaily Introduces Revised 401(k) Statement Extraction Tool, Inc.

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

DC Conversion Analyst
for Retirement Alliance, Inc.
in NH

Employee Relations Director
for CitiStreet
in FL

401k Service Administrative Assistant
for A.G. Edwards & Sons
in CA

Retirement Plan Consultant
for Benefit Funding Services Group
in CA

Senior Relationship Manager / Investment Consultant
for Benefit Funding Services Group
in CA

Defined Benefit Client Manager
for Pentec, Inc.
in CT

401(k) Client Relationship Specialist
for Matthews Benefit Group, Inc
in FL

Employee Benefits Trust Administrator
for BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust, Inc.)
in NC

TRS - Installation Specialist
for Transamerica
in CA

Human Resources Representative
for WageWorks, Inc.
in IL

Defined Contribution Plan Account Representative
for Pentegra Retirement Services
in NY

Retirement Plan Manager
for Benetemps
in MA

Director, Relationship Management
for Fidelity Investments
in KY

Employee Benefits Associate
for Womble Carlyle
in NC

Comp/Benefits Writer & Audio Conference Producer Sought
for Newsletter/web publisher

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