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January 31, 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] FMLA Expansion for Military Families Signed into Law
Excerpt: "Employers must now act to provide leave under these new FMLA provisions. Further, even though the active duty leave benefit is not effective until the Secretary of Labor issues final regulations defining 'any qualifying exigency,' in the interim, the DOL is encouraging employers to provide this type of leave to qualifying employees." (Troutman Sanders LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Sequel to Tullis Decision - The Potential Reach of Section 502(a)(2)
Excerpt: "This case arises out of a dispute over a funding shortfall in the administration of a self-funded group health plan." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

[Guidance Overview] President Bush Expands Family and Medical Leave for Families of Servicemembers
Excerpt: "The terms of the Act are effective immediately, and the DOL is working to issue implementing regulations. The regulations should clarify many of the uncertainties created by the statutory amendments and provide additional guidance to employers." (Employer Law Report blog)

[Guidance Overview] Law to Expand FMLA Leave for Families of Military Service Members (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Bush on January 28, 2008, has significantly expanded the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for families of military service members. The first major revision to the FMLA since its enactment in 1993, the new law will expand the FMLA in three important ways." (Alston & Bird LLP)

Health Care Reform to Shift Focus
Excerpt: "The demise of California's attempt at comprehensive health-care reform this week means that advocates of overhauling the health-care system will turn their focus back to Washington, several experts said yesterday, as an increasingly tough budget climate raises new questions about whether states can go it alone." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Summary of the 2008 Presidential Candidates on Health Care Reform, Updated Jan. 30, 2008 (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "While it is still early in the campaign process and plan details are incomplete for most candidates, these summaries provide a snapshot of the candidates and their blueprint for reform. Our intent is to be thorough and accurate in compiling what they have said or indicated they want to do." (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Interest Grows In Stand-Alone Retiree Medical VEBAs, Segal Finds
Excerpt: "From Spencer's Benefits Reports: Until this past year, bankrup.tcy was the most common reason for establishing stand-alone retiree medical voluntary employees' beneficiary associations (VEBAs), according to a study conducted by the Segal Company. Stand-alone VEBAs are less common [than] company-run VEBAs, Segal noted in its Winter 2008 survey report, Study of Retiree Health VEBAs." (Wolters Kluwer Financial Services)

Health Plans Do Not Realize Significant Economies of Scale
Excerpt: "An analysis of performance benchmark data for administrative spending that compare large Blue Cross Blue Shield plans with the overall Blues universe suggests that larger isn't always better or more cost-efficient." (The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans via AISHealth.com)

More Health Insurers Are Using Predictive Modeling to Set Premiums
Excerpt: "More health insurers are adding predictive modeling tools to their underwriting arsenal, using the software to help set premiums for new and renewing employer groups. Experts say it's a fairly easy transition for health plans that already use predictive modeling applications as a tool to aid disease and case managers in identifying members at high risk of future medical costs." (Health Plan Week via AISHealth.com)

Bush Signs Defense Law with FMLA Expansions
Excerpt: "President George Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 (HR 4986, PL 110-181) which expands the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). The law provides new leave entitlements for employees who have a family member injured in service (up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period) or called to active duty (up to 12 weeks of leave)." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Increased Health Care Costs, Aging Population Pose Long-Term Financial Concerns, Comptroller General Says
Excerpt: "Comptroller General David Walker on Tuesday at a Senate Budget Committee hearing said that increased health care costs and an aging population have placed the federal budget on an 'imprudent and unsustainable path' and that 'passage of time only serves to worsen this situation,' CongressDaily reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Big Business Backs Health Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "As presidential candidates push their plans to makeover the nation's health-care system, some of America's largest employers presented their own suggested fix Wednesday. Every adult American should be required to purchase health insurance coverage for themselves and their children on a tax-advantaged basis, but it shouldn't be incumbent on business owners to offer or pay for it, according to the National Business Group on Health . . . ." (AP via BusinessWeek)

[Opinion] New, Unwelcome FMLA Regulations
Excerpt: "Under the new rules being discussed, employees would have to call in to request FMLA leave before taking it, as opposed to the present situation where employees can take off two days before requesting leave. The regulations will also address the new military leave provisions . . . . Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who authored the original FMLA bill, is already concerned about the path being carved out and issued a statement today expressing those concerns." (Workplace Prof Blog)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] IRS's Semiannual Regulatory Agenda Including Pension and Benefit Projects
Excerpt: "Among the rules that the IRS expects to finalize are the following: enhancement of the existing HIPAA portability regulations and clarification of the interaction between the HIPAA portability requirements and the FMLA; and guidance for group health plans that provide benefits for hospital stays in connection with childbirth relating to requirements for minimum lengths of stay." (Wolters Kluwer Financial Services)

[Guidance Overview] Shocking 162(m) Ruling from the IRS
Excerpt: "A private letter ruling can only be relied upon by the taxpayer who receives it. However, this surprising development suggests that we all consider the language of our employment agreements and equity plans." (Michael S. Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Waives Informational Return Requirement for 2007 Stock Transfers Governed by IRC 6039
Excerpt: "In general, the statement provides information related to the employee and the shares involved (e.g., number of shares, fair market value, information on acquisition and transfer). Treas. Reg. 1.6039-1(a). While extensions are available, the deadline to furnish a statement is January 31 of the year following the year in which the reportable transfer occurred. Failure to timely furnish the required statement could result in a penalty of $50 per statement, not to exceed $100,000 per calendar year." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)

Perk Add Benefits to Employment
Excerpt: "It's a great time to be an employee, and not because we're about to get fat raises or salary increases. (We're definitely not!) It's because employers are realizing that there are plenty of perks they can throw at us and make us happy without having to spend much." (Miami Herald)

Contrary to Previous Reports, Oldest Boomers Eager to Retire
Excerpt: "A majority of the 2.9 million Americans who turn 62 this year say they will be fully retired by the age of 65, according to a new survey released by MetLife. That's in direct conflict with what previously has been forecast. Economic uncertainties, poor retirement planning, collapsing pension plans and longer lifespans were all considered reasons that many people would continue working past the age of 65." (JJ Acquisition Corp.)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Current Events in Nonqualified Plans Web Seminar
Nationwide on February 26, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

March Health & Welfare Web Seminar: Benefit Administration Outsourcing- What Outsourcing Organizations Don't Want You to Know
Nationwide on March 20, 2008
presented by TRI-AD

March Retirement Web Seminar: An Update on Automatic Enrollment
Nationwide on March 27, 2008
presented by TRI-AD

ROI of Incentive Compensation
in Pennsylvania on May 23, 2008
presented by Buck Consultants, an ACS Company

Understanding Qualified Retirement Plans: A Practical Review - Webcast
Nationwide on February 5, 2008
presented by CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

James H. Szostek Joins ACLI as Director, Pensions
American Council of Life Insurers

Pension Rights Center Mourns the Death of Bob Ball
Pension Rights Center

Tara Giella Awarded QPA Designation by ASPPA
Preferred Pension Planning Corporation

National Retirement Partners Membership Expands
National Retirement Partners, Inc.


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401k Manager
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Manager - 401(k)/Defined Contribution Valuation Processing Department
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Benefits Manager
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401(k) Administrator Quiz
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Client Service Consultant - Regional
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in OR

Client Services Retirement Expert
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in CA

Senior Project Manager
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in MA

Health and Welfare Group Account Manager
for Great Lakes Employee Benefit Services, Inc.
in MI

Human Resources Specialist II
for AECOM Technology
in CA

Implementation Manager
for OCI
in CO

Retirement Plan Sales
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in CA

Director, Daily Services
for Firm in South Florida
in FL

Pension Administrators
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in FL

Employee Benefits / ERISA Attorney
for Hill Ward Henderson
in FL

DC Implementation Analyst
for Milliman
in TX

Director of Conversion
for Charles Schwab
in AZ, OH

Education Services Coordinator
for ASPPA
in NJ




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