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January 25, 2008

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


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[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated January 23, 2007, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
12 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)

[Guidance Overview] Anesthetist with Potential for Drug Abuse Relapse on Job not Due Benefits
Excerpt: "The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a long-term disability plan administrator's denial of benefits for a drug addicted participant whose job duties potentially put him at risk of drug abuse relapse." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Restaurant Association Will Not Appeal San Francisco ERISA Preemption Decision
Excerpt: "[T]he Golden Gate Restaurant Association has decided not to challenge the recent 9th Circuit decision to issue an emergency stay of a district court order and allow a San Francisco health reform program to go forward." (Workplace Prof Blog)

WSJ Examines Financial Incentives for Physicians To Switch Patients to Less-Expensive, Generic Medications
Excerpt: "According to the Journal, although large pharma.ceutical companies 'have long gone to great lengths' and have invested 'billions of dollars plying physicians with samples, educational lunches and speaker fees' to promote their products, health insurers are 'trying to trump those perks' with monetary gifts and higher reimbursements." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

LTC Claims Doubled from 2001 to 2005, Society of Actuaries Finds (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Long term care insurers are developing extensive experience in managing claims and policies, developing more details on claims exposure, claims paid, and termination rates, a new study shows. The Long Term Care Experience Study by the Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Ill., found voluntary lapse rates by policy holders dropped to 5.5% in the period 1985 to 2005, the time covered in the study, from 7.4% in 2002, when the society issued a similar report on the experience of U.S. LTC insurance carriers up to that point in time." (The National Underwriter Company via Society of Actuaries)

Health Care Reform and the Candidates
Excerpt: "Democratic presidential contenders are more in line with the public than their Republican counterparts when it comes to addressing the problem of the uninsured, according to a new survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York City-based foundation that advocates health care reform." (The Washington Times)

Report Questions Effect of Federal Health IT Adoption Efforts
Excerpt: "The report, titled 'Gauging the Progress of the National Health Information Technology Initiative: Perspectives from the Field,' is based on interviews with health IT leaders in the public and private sectors. The report criticizes the federal effort to create a Nationwide Health Information Network, noting 'though it represents a worthy goal, [NHIN] is impractical and cannot be implemented.'" (California HealthCare Foundation; free registration may be required)

Wal-Mart CEO Announces Pilot Program To Provide Prescription Drug Services for Some Employers
Excerpt: "[Wal-Mart's CEO] did not name the employers or discuss the details of the program, but he said that Wal-Mart could save the companies more than $100 million this year. According to a Wal-Mart spokesperson, the employers might contract with the company to fill all or a majority of prescriptions for employees. Wal-Mart could reduce health care costs for the employers through a program that offers prescriptions of generic medications for $4 . . . ." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Opinion] Defending Federal Employee Benefits
Excerpt: "Federal employees seem skittish heading into 2008, at least when it comes to their benefits. Some of this anxiety is justified: The federal government cannot surpass private-sector salaries, so benefits are important as compensation and incentive. But in some cases, feds seem resistant to proposals that would expand their benefits to other Americans out of protectiveness -- a sense that to let nonfederal employees in the door would lower the emotional, if not financial, value of those benefits." (National Journal Group, Inc.)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] Court Rules Workplace Safety Laws Independent of ERISA
Excerpt: "The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not pre-empt state law claims regarding unsafe workplaces." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

[Guidance Overview] Supreme Court - MetLife v. Glenn and other Employment Cases (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The United States Supreme Court recently announced that it will consider three cases that may impact employers and employees. These cases are briefly summarized . . . ." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

[Guidance Overview] U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Three New Employment and ERISA Cases (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "In three more cases the Court agreed to hear on Friday concerning age discrimination, retaliation and ERISA claims, the Court's decisions will likely impact not only the success of employers in defending certain employment cases, but also the types (and number) of employees protected by anti-discrimination statutes. While many expect the Court to continue its relatively conservative approach in the employment area, even pro-employer decisions may negatively impact employers if the end result is to prompt Congress to roll back the Court's decisions." (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

[Guidance Overview] January 2008 Employee Benefits Update (PDF)
10 pages. This newsletter covers select compliance deadlines and retirement, health and welfare developments. (Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.)

[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide for January 23, 2007, on Human Resources & Employment Law (PDF)
15 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 human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)

[Guidance Overview] 2007 Legislative and Regulatory Year in Review and the Outlook for 2008
Excerpt: "This comprehensive report rounds up key legislation and regulatory guidance enacted in 2007 and forecasts the outlook for legislative and regulatory activity in 2008." (Hewitt Associates)

[Guidance Overview] Seventh Circuit Rejects FedEx's Request To Review Class Certification
Excerpt: "According to a CNN news report, a Seventh Circuit panel rejected FedEx's request to review the nationwide class certification of the drivers' claim for employee benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and other state claims. Central to the case is the classification of workers as independent contractors. The decision clears the way for further proceedings in the nationwide class action suit that involves thousands of workers." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

[Guidance Overview] Final Rules for Nonqualified Defined Contribution Deferred Compensation Plans (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "These rules apply to sponsors of and participants in nonqualified defined contribution plans, including section 457(f) plans. These rules do not apply to qualified plans (for example, 401(k) plans), section 403(b) arrangements, or section 457(b) plans." (Prudential Retirement)

[Guidance Overview] Chart - Highlights of Final Rules for Nonqualified Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
5 pages. (Prudential Retirement)

[Guidance Overview] Deferred Compensation Planning Opportunities for Executives of Tax-Exempt Entities
Excerpt: "Two important planning techniques . . . can significantly increase the amount of compensation that a key employee of a tax-exempt entity may annually defer. First, changes in the Code, which became effective in 2002, eliminated the offset of amounts deferred under an eligible Code Section 457 plan against deferrals that the executive may make under a tax-sheltered annuity or a 401(k) plan, thereby permitting an executive to 'double up' his or her pre-tax deferrals." (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC)

Labor Dept. Working on Changes for Families Coping with Illness and Military Duty
Excerpt: "Labor Department officials said [yesterday] that they had proposed new regulations that address some corporate complaints that workers are abusing the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under the proposals, workers would generally have to call in to request a leave before taking it; currently, employees can take off for two days before requesting a leave." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Changes in Family Leave Act Regs Proposed
Excerpt: "The Bush administration is proposing the first changes in more than a decade to regulations that give workers unpaid leave to deal with family or medical emergencies, a move that concerns some of the law's supporters who want to see it expanded." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)

Fortune Lauds the 'Best' 100 Employers
Excerpt: "Robust workplace benefits still remain a key factor in why some employers appear on Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)

Southwest Employees Say no More Stock Options
Excerpt: "Southwest Airlines has used stock options to enrich employees during good financial periods, but officials with the Transport Workers Union of America are now seeking more traditional compensation for ground workers." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Employers See Advantage in Helping Workers Care for Families
Excerpt: "Now some companies, searching for ways to reduce absences and low productivity among workers with hefty personal demands, are coming up with ways to help. The services they help provide run the gamut: backup care, in-home care for family members with minor illnesses and referrals to day-care services that offer weekend, night-shift or late-evening care." (The Columbia Daily Tribune)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Consumer Driven Care Web Summit - A Healthcare Web Summit Event
in California on March 13, 2008
presented by Healthcare Web Summit

The Business Case for Employee Health and Well-Being Webcast
Nationwide on February 14, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Many Companies Still Unlikely to Disclose Performance Goals In Their 2008 Proxy Statements, Watson Wyatt Poll Finds
Watson Wyatt

AASA Center for System Leadership Releases 403(b) Toolkit for School Administrators
American Association of School Administrators


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Assistant Vice President-USIG Benefits Support-50031446
for MassMutual Financial Group
in CT

Pension Administrator
for The Benefits Consulting Group, Inc.
in IL

Small Market Sales Representative
for CitiStreet
in MA

Team Leader
for CitiStreet
in MA

Senior Manager - Healthcare Consulting
for Deloitte Consulting LLP
in TX

Senior Manager - Executive Compensation Consulting
for Deloitte Consulting LLP
in TX

Retirement Sales Consultant
for EPIC Advisors, Inc.
in AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY

Defined Contribution Client Manager
for Milliman, Inc.
in WA

Vice President, International Benefits / Domestic Retirement
for 20th Century Fox
in CA

Plan Specialist - Plan Sponsor Desk (Los Angeles)
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

Taft-Hartley Defined Contribution Client Account Manager
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in MA

Defined Contribution Client Account Manager
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in NJ




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