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January 9, 2008

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.


Today's sponsor is 17th Annual Nat'l Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for 17th Annual Nat'l Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

"The Biggest Challenge Remains: Addressing the Most Intractable Cost Problem Facing American Employers"

January 17-18, 2008 - Tampa Waterfront Convention Center

Featuring: The Boeing Company (147,000 employees); Ohio Retirement Systems & Ohio State University (350,000 covered lives); Benefits Manager of the Year; Cities of Milwaukee & Las Vegas; Rayonier, Inc.; University of Alabama; Florida Power & Light (FPL); J.B. Hunt; Sonic Automotive, Inc. (Fortune 300); State of West Virginia; Manatee County Schools; Lincoln Industries, Inc.; Sarasota County...and more... 24 total sessions.
Contact Gene Piatek or Sheron Dean at: 941-484-1430 or email to: info@HBCE.com


Supreme Court Ready to Hear Public Employee Disability/ADEA Case Today
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court hears oral argument on Wednesday, January 9 in Kentucky Retirement Systems v EEOC (Docket No 06-1037). The High Court will consider 'whether any use of age as a factor in a retirement plan is 'arbitrary' and thus renders the plan facially discriminatory in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.'" (Workplace Prof Blog)

AARP Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Reject Recent EEOC Rule Allowing Coordination of Retiree Health Benefits with Medicare
Excerpt: "In November, AARP filed a court petition in response to the Third Circuit decision, saying the ruling 'threatens to undermine the constitutional balance between congressional legislation and executive agency rulemaking.' The decision's 'misguided approach threatens the health care benefits of approximately 10 million older Americans,' according to the petition." (Human Resource Executive Online; free registration required)

Lowering Co-Pays on Some Drugs Helps Fight Chronic Diseases
Excerpt: "Offering lower drug co-payments to people with diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases could increase use of preventive medicines, suggests a new study led by University of Michigan and Harvard University researchers." (HealthDay News via The Washington Post; free registration required)

Consumers Don't Understand Health Insurance Terminology, According to Survey
Excerpt: "California-based eHealth, an online health insurance provider, commissioned the survey, which questioned 1,010 adults on health insurance terms and their own policy." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)

Employers to Use Flexibility, Better Benefits in '08
Excerpt: "Many employers are considering new strategies to attract job candidates in 2008, such as more comprehensive health care benefits, more flexible work arrangements, hiring retired baby boomers and increasing career advancement opportunities." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)

Updating the Institute of Medicine Analysis on the Impact of Uninsurance on Mortality
Excerpt: "The absence of health insurance creates a range of consequences, including lower quality of life, increased morbidity and mortality, and higher financial burdens. This paper focuses on just one aspect of this harm -- namely, greater risk of death -- and seeks to illustrate its general order of magnitude." (Urban Institute)

Health Costs Rise Faster Than Insurance Premiums
Excerpt: "Total U.S. private health insurance premium expenditures increased more slowly in 2006 than overall national health expenditures increased. Economists with the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have included figures supporting that conclusion in a health care spending report published in Health Affairs, a health policy journal." (The National Underwriter Company; free registration or paid subscription required)

Ninth Circuit Court Requested To Revive 'Healthy San Francisco Program'
Excerpt: "As previously noted, a federal district court held that ERISA preempts San Francisco's 'Healthy San Francisco Program', a city ordinance, on the grounds that it both had an impermissible connection with ERISA plans and made unlawful reference to ERISA plans." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Online Health Records Far from Mainstream Use
Excerpt: "Right now, PHR platforms are mostly proprietary, and most are sponsored by health insurance companies or care facilities, said Liz Boehm, principal analyst at Forrester. The data that consumers enter in these types of platforms becomes trapped in a platform without a clear way to migrate, share or send pieces of that data to other systems. Boehm added that hospitals, physicians and patients are clamoring for online health records, but few are using the crude systems now in place and the health care industry is doing little to spur adoption." (eWeek.com)

Overview: CMS Expands HIPAA Security Enforcement (PDF)
Excerpt: "CMS has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers ('PWC') to conduct a series of HIPAA security compliance reviews of organizations against which security complaints have been lodged. The PWC compliance reviews are intended to have an educational component and will supplement random audits, not driven by complaints, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General ('OIG')." (Dechert LLP)

Can Maximum HSA Contribution Be Split Between 2 HSAs, One for the Policy Holder and One for Spouse?
Excerpt: "If husband and wife have family-coverage under a high-deductible health insurance plan, each is eligible to establish and fund an HSA, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. They may split the annual contribution limit between the two HSAs in any manner." (Wolters Kluwer Financial Services)

Workers Value Wellness Programs, Employers Not Yet on Board, According to Study
Excerpt: "The recent Principal Financial Well-Being Index found workers believe wellness programs are beneficial, but many do not yet have access to wellness programs at their workplace." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

National Health Spending Exceeded Record $2 Trillion in 2006
Excerpt: "Private health insurance spending grew at the slowest rate since 1997, and spending on Medicaid, which covers low-income people, declined for the first time since creation of the program in 1965. Over all, the report said, health spending increased 6.7 percent in 2006, slightly faster than in 2005, and now accounts for 16 percent of the total output of good and services, a slightly larger share than in 2005." (The New York Times; free registration required)

IRS Updates Publication 503 -- Child and Dependent Care Expenses -- for 2007
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: While Pub. 503 is written primarily to help taxpayers determine whether expenses qualify for the DCTC, DCAP administrators will also appreciate having a version of Pub. 503 that reflects the new dependent care expense regulations. However, Pub. 503 must be used with caution if serving as a guide to determine what expenses are reimbursable under a DCAP. For example, the DCTC and DCAPs have different rules about the maximum amount of expenses that can be taken into account and about the timing of expenses." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)

No COBRA Notice Required at End of Combined FMLA/Non-FMLA Leave for Employee Who Did Not Pay Premiums While on Leave
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Employee leaves of absence can present special difficulties for COBRA compliance unless an employer adopts clear rules (reflected, as necessary, in plan documentation) regarding what triggers COBRA rights: the reduction in hours at the start of a leave or the termination of employment for those employees who do not return at the end of a leave. Although the IRS COBRA regulations contain a special rule that addresses the issue for FMLA leaves, as this case illustrates, combined FMLA/non-FMLA leaves raise many of the same issues and create the same need for clear policies." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Easing into Retirement
Excerpt: "[Y]ou may have a great deal of leverage to name the conditions under which you want to continue working. You may find that your employer would be thrilled to have you stay on board as a part-time employee, even if it means continuing to pay for employee benefits like health insurance. By remaining open to creative solutions while keeping your resolve to get what you want from your final years of work, you may be able to negotiate an arrangement that will make both you and your employer happy." (The Money Times)

Overview: SEC Adopts Amendments to Rule 144 and 145 and Other Reforms
Excerpt: "In November and December 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted amendments to: revise restrictions on the resale of restricted securities under Rule 144 and the restriction on securities acquired in business combination transactions under Rule 145 of the Securities Act; expand the eligibility of Forms S-3 and F-3 to a larger number of companies for primary offerings of securities; expand the number of companies that qualify for the SEC's scaled disclosure for smaller reporting companies; provide two exemptions from the registration requirements of the Exchange Act for compensatory employee stock options; and adopt amendments relating to the information required by Form D and mandate electronic filing of Form D after a phase-in period." (Jones Day)

Overview: SEC Revises Rules 144 and 145 (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "On December 6, 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the 'Commission') issued the final rule on the revisions to Rules 144 and 145 under the Securities Act of 1933. The final rules will be effective on February 15, 2008 and will apply to securities acquired before and after such date." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Opinion: SEC Should Update and Expand Executive Pay Database
Excerpt: "Cox and his fellow commissioners unveiled a database on Dec. 21 that allows investors to find the compensation -- including bonus and stock options -- for top executives of the 500 largest U.S. companies. That's a first, and it's part of the SEC's attempt to get greater transparency for investors on executive compensation. The problem is that there are no plans to update the database or expand it beyond the 500 companies. SEC spokesman John Heine said the commission views it as a ``demonstration project'' and it's not ``an ongoing effort.''" (Bloomberg News)

Opinion: With Its New CEO Incentive Plan, AmEx Has Created a Better Model for Executive Compensation
Excerpt: "[I'd] advise four key groups - CEOs, board members, government officials, and presidential candidates - to study the remarkable grant of stock options that American Express's (AXP, Fortune 500) board recently gave CEO Ken Chenault." (Fortune via CNNMoney.com)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

403(b) Written Plans and How They Affect Existing Contracts
Nationwide on January 29, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Automatic Enrollment & Default Investments Workshop
in Colorado on January 15, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Automatic Enrollment & Default Investments Workshop
in Pennsylvania on January 17, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Automatic Enrollment & Default Investments Workshop
in Massachusetts on January 18, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Automatic Enrollment & Default Investments Workshop
in Texas on January 23, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Automatic Enrollment & Default Investments Workshop
in North Carolina on January 24, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

I-9 Form Mistakes & Omissions: The Right Way To Verify I-9 Eligibility
Nationwide on January 24, 2008
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com

Participant Forms & Notices Workshop
in Colorado on January 15, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Participant Forms & Notices Workshop
in Pennsylvania on January 17, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Participant Forms & Notices Workshop
in Massachusetts on January 18, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Participant Forms & Notices Workshop
in Texas on January 23, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Participant Forms & Notices Workshop
in North Carolina on January 24, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Participant Forms & Notices Workshop
in Kansas on January 24, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Participant Forms & Notices Workshop
in Georgia on January 25, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Why Is This Guy Still On My Health Plan - And What Can I Do About It?
Nationwide on January 16, 2008
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Survey Finds 11% of Organizations Pay Expenses Related to Medical Tourism
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

PBMI Offers New Drug Benefit Training Workshop
Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI)

Former SunTrust Executive Joins CAPTRUST Financial Advisors
CAPTRUST Financial Advisors

Seasoned Insurance Industry Executive Joins Century Healthcare
Century Healthcare


We're one of the top 350 employment sites on the web!Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Relationship Manager
for Federated Investors
in PA

Retirement Plan Industry Strategic Marketing & Advertising Specialist
for RG Wuelfing & Associates/The SPARK Institute
in CT, NC

Senior Pension Administrator
for American Fiduciary Corporation
in MA

Employee Benefits Allocations Manager
for BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust)
in NC

Compliance Account Manager
for First Niagara Benefits and Consulting Group
in NY

DC Plan Administrator
for Campbell Albrecht
in CA

Regional Director, Defined Contribution Specialist
for Great-West Financial Services
in DC

Compliance Specialist
for The Newport Group
in NC

Relationship Manager
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in MA

Strategic Communications Consultant
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in MA

ERISA Consultant
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in MA

Training Specialist
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in MA

Defined Contribution Conversion Project Leader
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in MA

Senior Account Executive - Group Employee Benefits
for BWD Group LLC
in NY




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