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January 14, 2008

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


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(a) New Guidance Documents

(None today.)

(b) News

(None today.)

(c) Summaries of Guidance; Filed Comments

New MSP Reporting Rule Enacted, Other Coordination of Benefits Proposals Pending
A brief note on coordinating private health plans with government plans. (Thompson Publishing Group Inc.)

(d) Trends, Surveys, Research

Insurers Focus on Keeping Policyholders Healthy
Excerpt: "As health insurance premiums continue to rise, insurers have been stepping up efforts to help their policyholders stay healthy -- a strategy now seen as the most promising for reining in health-care costs. Insurers are offering their customers more products, programs, information and online tools to help them take charge of their health." (Puget Sound Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Educating Employees on Retiree Health Care Costs
Excerpt: "Many tools offered by vendors don't prepare workers for the disparate share of their savings needed for the cost of healthcare when they retire. HR is perfectly positioned to provide the necessary education that is key to proper retirement planning." (Human Resource Executive Online; free registration required)

Mental Illness Takes Bigger Toll on Business Than Workers' Physical Woes
Excerpt: "Studies indicate, for example, that roughly 6% of the U.S. work force is depressed at any given time. But according to Sibson Consulting in Chicago, behavioral health issues cause 217 million missed workdays annually, account for 7.6% of total health-care dollars, and are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and, ultimately, the third leading cause of long-term disability." (Financial Week; free registration required)

Disease Management Effectiveness Called Into Question
Excerpt: "Disease management does appear to improve the quality of care (except for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and reduces hospitalization rates for patients with congestive heart failure." (Wolters Kluwer Financial Services)

How Employers Save on Health Care: Auditing Workers
Excerpt: "Meet the insurance audit. Increasing numbers of employers are requesting personal documents to ensure that all the dependents in their health care plans are entitled to coverage. With insurance costs rising faster than inflation for a decade, they want to verify that you're actually married to the person receiving spousal benefits, or that your 19-year-old son really is enrolled as a full-time student. If you can't produce proof, the dependent loses coverage." (The Houston Chronicle)

Yale University Program Helps Employees Buy Homes
Excerpt: "A 13-year-old benefit program under which Yale University helps employees buy homes in New Haven, Connecticut, has been extended for another 24 months and beefed up, the university announced." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

(e) Policy, Opinion, Advocacy

Opinion: An Open Letter to California Single Payer Advocates Who Oppose ABX1 1
Excerpt: "This letter is addressed to those individuals and groups who believe as I do that a single payer model of health care financing would be the most efficient and effective method for attaining universal health care in California and the United States." (California Progress Report)

Opinion: Only the United States Congress Can Correct the ERISA Injustice
Excerpt: "Big business lobbyists were able to inject language into this legislation to encompass, not only pension plans, but any sort of employer plans to benefit employees. The federal judiciary then took this legislation and construed it so as to place most employer health insurance benefit plans squarely within the purview of ERISA." (Claris Law)

Supreme Court Should Hear Appeal in Lawsuit to Expand Access to Experimental Rx for Terminally Ill Patients, Op-Ed States
Excerpt: "The U.S. Supreme Court . . . will consider a request to hear an appeal in a lawsuit against FDA that seeks access to experimental medications for terminally ill cancer patients, a case that has raised 'profound issues regarding the right of individuals to make their own health care decisions,' Steven Walker, co-founder of the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Modeling Equity Compensation (PDF)
Pages 4-5 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "Since Financial Accounting Standard 123R came on the scene over a year ago, the need for companies to accurately value the share-based incentives they award their employees has exploded. The standard, which requires expensing the grant date fair value of awards, sets the groundwork for valuations, but its complexity often presents companies with complicated choices." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Overview: OPEB Liabilities Under GASB (PDF)
Pages 2-3 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "[A chart in the target article] compares Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Statement of Accounting Standard (SFAS) 106 and GASB 45." (American Academy of Actuaries)

FASB Reform: Smooth Sailing or Rough Waters? (PDF)
Page 8 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "There has been widespread dissatisfaction with current financial accounting and disclosure standards in Financial Accounting Standard (FAS) 87 and FAS 106, particularly from investors and other users of financial statements. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is in the middle of a two-phase project to reform pension accounting." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Investments and Markets: 2008's Top Benefits Topics
Excerpt: "Public pension funds and retirement plan investors face a challenging year. Here are some key issues for the coming months, including investment return targets, sovereign funds, recession vs. correction, oil, interest rates, the Fed, muni bonds, alternative investments, China, the presidential election cycle and housing . . . ." (Congressional Quarterly, Inc.)

NBER Working Paper: Stock-Based Compensation and CEO (Dis)Incentives
Excerpt: "We find that a firm-specific compensation package based on both stock and earnings performance instead induces a combination of high effort, truth revelation and optimal investments. The model produces numerous predictions that are consistent with the empirical evidence." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

State of Maryland Defines 'Domestic Partners'
Excerpt: "Maryland state lawmakers are still debating the overall same-sex marriage issue, but the state now has at least formally defined domestic partners." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

GM / UAW Negotiating More Buyouts
Excerpt: "General Motors Corp. is close to an agreement with the United Auto Workers on another round of buyout and early retirement offers to cut the number of workers in jobs banks and clear openings for workers hired at lower-tier wages, a top company official said . . . ." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)

Notes on the 2008 Annual Meeting Season (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "In this issue, we are including discussions concerning the SEC's 2006 executive compensation disclosure rules, the new e-proxy rules as well as other updates and reminders that will help you prepare for your 2008 annual meeting and keep you abreast of the latest developments from the SEC, New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and Institutional Shareholder Services." (Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

February Web Seminar: Section 1235 Plans Legislative Update
Nationwide on February 28, 2008
presented by TRI-AD

Governmental Benefits Seminar
in Pennsylvania on February 5, 2008
presented by Rhoades & Wodarczyk Law Firm

January Web Seminar: Open Enrollment- Ten Tops to Make it Better
Nationwide on January 31, 2008
presented by TRI-AD


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

ExpertPlan Expands Payroll Foothold with 5 New Payroll Companies
ExpertPlan

Elaine Sarsynski to Head Retirement Services at MassMutual
MassMutual

Wachovia Introduces New Product That Makes Savings Easy And Automatic For Consumers
Wachovia Corporation

SEI Selects Ascensus to Provide Retirement Plan Recordkeeping
Ascensus


We're one of the top 350 employment sites on the web!Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Employee Benefits Associate Washington Office
for Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP
in DC

Employee Benefits Administration
for Primary Consulting, Inc.
in ANY STATE

Customer Service Representatives I
for Great-West Corporate
in KS

Operations Specialist
for The CIP Group
in MA

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Administrator
for Medium-Sized Company
in NC

Retirement Compliance Testing Manager
for Vanguard
in PA

Senior Compliance Testing Consultant
for Vanguard
in PA

Relationship Manager - Defined Contribution Plans
for Vanguard
in AZ

ERISA Consultant
for Vanguard
in AZ

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

Plan Sponsor Relationship Manager
for T Rowe Price
in MD

Benefits Consultant
for Carilion Clinic
in VA

Pension Administrator
for R-Tech Consultants, Inc.
in CA

Primary Administrator for Qualified Retirement Plans
for Kidder Benefits Consultants, Inc.
in IA

Pension Consultant
for Mercer Advisors
in CA

Pension and 401(k) Plan Consultant
for Pacific Coastal Pension Services
in CA

Senior Advisor Disease Mgmt & Wellness Prevention
for NRECA
in VA

TPA Regional Manager - Western Region
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

401(k)/Pension Administrator
for Abar Pension Services, Inc.
in NJ

Legal / Compliance Specialist
for Beneco, Inc.
in AZ

ERISA Benefits Attorney
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL

Paralegal/Retirement Document Support
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL

Client Services Associate
for Pinnacle Financial Group
in MA




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