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February 13, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is University Conference Services

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Are Your Health and Welfare Benefit Plans Headed Down the Right Road?

Dramatic increases in the cost of health care benefits have forced employers to take cost-containment measures and made the job of managing and funding these employee benefits more challenging than ever. Today, the pace of increase continues well above inflation, leaving many to wonder 'What next?' There are no quick and easy answers. But, there is a place where you can learn what some of the best and brightest in the employer-sponsored health care arena are thinking and doing. The Health & Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers in Orlando is your opportunity to find out how to map a long-term course for your health and welfare plans and to avoid short-cut solutions that lead to dead ends. Make plans now to attend.

Presented by the Kenan-Flagler Business School in conjunction with leading benefit services companies.


[Guidance Overview] DOL Issues Proposed Revised FMLA Regulations and Expanded FMLA Leave to Family of Military Servicemembers (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "[E]mployers should familiarize themselves with the proposed rules, but await final implementation, before changing policies, which could be months away (except for those military service leave provisions that are now effective)." (Proskauer Rose)

[Guidance Overview] Proposed FMLA Regulations Largely Disappointing for Employers
Excerpt: " Although there are some useful new provisions, the changes are largely disappointing for employers who were hoping that the new regulations would offer much-needed clarification and relief from administrative burdens. Despite the disappointment, employers must still take the time to understand the differences between the 'old' 1995 regulations and these 'new' 2008 proposed regulations. To that end, the most significant changes affecting employers are listed below." (Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP)

[Guidance Overview] The DOL's Proposed FMLA Regulations: For Employers, an Opportunity Lost (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "Employers who were expecting a more precise definition of the term 'serious health condition' or meaningful relief from the burdensome intermittent leave provisions will be sorely disappointed. Instead, employers must be content with a few minor tweaks and clarifications dealing with perfect attendance bonuses, waivers of past FMLA claims, procedures for calling in FMLA absences and certifications of the need for leave. This Advisory summarizes the key proposed changes in the regulations." (Alston + Bird LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Stop Loss Insurer's Reliance On Coverage Exclusion Unhinged By Application of State Law
Excerpt: "Few aspects of self-funded health plan administration more confound employers and courts alike than comprehending the nature, operation and purpose of 'stop loss' insurance. Even the proper description of this form of insurance can be contentious as this case demonstrates (the magistrate judge having erroneously applied 'reinsurance' statutory provisions.) The Seventh Circuit did, however, provide a quite useful analysis of the arbitration rules applicable when arbitration provisions are invoked in the context of a coverage dispute." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

State Prescription Drug Price Web Sites: How Useful to Consumers?
Excerpt: "To aid consumers in comparing prescription drug costs, many states have launched Web sites to publish drug prices offered by local retail pharmacies. The current push to make retail pharmacy prices accessible to consumers is part of a much broader movement to increase price transparency throughout the health-care sector." (Center for Studying Health System Change)

States Lead Push for Paid Sick Days
Excerpt: "With this year's flu epidemic in full swing, nearly half of all U.S. workers who fall ill or have sick kids must decide whether to stay home and lose wages or go to work sick and expose others, a choice many say no one should have to make." (Stateline.org)

In Minnesota, a Plan for Better Health, Universal Care
Excerpt: "A governor's task force is challenging Minnesota to get healthy by 2011, and the report it released Tuesday doles out responsibility to everyone. It challenges Minnesotans to halt the state's obesity rate this year and reduce smoking and binge drinking. . . . It proposes saving money by cutting inefficiencies and insurers' administrative costs and then using the savings to extend health coverage to the state's 374,000 uninsured residents." (TwinCities.com)

New York City Employees' Health Plan is Short on Coverage for Disease Prevention
Excerpt: "Thousands of city employees who subscribe to a popular health insurance plan offered by the city lack coverage for annual checkups, even as Mayor Bloomberg and health officials are stressing the importance of preventive medicine." (New York Sun)

Baby Boomers Find Bridge from Early Retirement to Medicare
Excerpt: "[T]here may be hope on the horizon. Lured by the baby boomer generation's size and affluence, a number of insurers have begun to market policies specifically geared to the 50-to-64 age group. Some of the nation's largest health insurers -- Aetna, Humana and WellPoint -- are introducing more comprehensive products designed for people who were used to benefit-rich plans in their jobs." (Dallas Morning News)

[Opinion] Government Involvement in Healthcare Will Be 'Tar Baby'
Excerpt: "Health care is going to be a tar-baby for government. The more that government grabs, the more it is going to find itself stuck with problems. With health insurance either provided or designed by government, the amount that you spend on health care services becomes a public policy issue. Reducing spending will become the next big priority for regulators. . . . Many Americans will welcome the regulatory state. Many others will accommodate it. Only a minority of us will oppose it." (Arnold Kling in the Wall Street Journal via Cato Institute)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] DOL Explains Duty of ERISA Fiduciaries to Collect Delinquent Contributions
Excerpt: "Outlining the interrelationship of ERISA §§ 402 through 405, the Department of Labor explained the basis by which a fiduciary is obligated to collect delinquent contributions, even where the fiduciary is a directed trustee not responsible under the trust document for monitoring or collecting contributions. U.S. Department of Labor Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) No. 2008- 01 (February 1, 2008)." (Deloitte)

IRS Official to Discuss Recent 162(m) Ruling
Excerpt: "Because nothing says 'Happy Valentines Day' like guidance on Code Section 162(m), we will be having a webcast on the topic this Thursday. Kenneth Griffin, the author of the IRS' recent, surprising private letter ruling, will lead off the webcast . . . ." (Executive Compensation Blog published by Winston & Strawn LLP)

Bush Proposed Benefits-Related Revenues Measures for FY2009; 'Deja Vu All Over Again' on Most Employee Benefit Changes
Excerpt: "For good or ill, in the last year of any president's term, not much newly-introduced legislation from the White House sees the light of day. The Bush Administration's fiscal year 2009 proposed revenue sources outlined in the General Explanations of the Administration's FY 2009 Revenue Proposals, released by the Treasury Department on February 5, 2008, appears to be headed down the same road . . . ." (Deloitte)

Entry-Level Federal Government Hires Are Starting Later, Value Old-Fashioned Perks
Excerpt: "[T]he typical entry-level hire is surprisingly older than generally assumed, is highly motivated to land a federal job, and is interested in the same things that prior generations have valued: job stability, annual pay raises, vacation time and health insurance." (Washington Post; free registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2008 Benefits Fair and Trade Show
in Massachusetts on May 21, 2008
presented by New England Employee Benefits Council

A Primer on Cash Balance Plans - Webcast
Nationwide on March 4, 2008
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

Is a Value-Based Formulary Right for You? Webcast
Nationwide on February 28, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Plan Terminations: Case Studies and Real World Examples
in Massachusetts on February 28, 2008
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council (ABC) of New England


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Chetney Receives ASPPA 401k Leadership Award
ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

Employers Saying More About Benefits, Watson Wyatt Study Finds
Watson Wyatt

Financial Engines Doubles Managed Accounts Business in 2007
Financial Engines, Inc.

ERIC Submits Comments on Proposed Automatic Contribution Arrangement Regulations
ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee)

ERIC Submits Comments to DOL on Proposed 408(b)(2) Regulations
ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee)

Proposed Changes to FMLA 'Protect the Future of a Vital Law'
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Consumer Group Finds Use of Outdated Data and Other Major Flaws In Economist's Defense of Mandatory Purchase of Private Health Insurance
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights

Century Healthcare Names Jay Beck As President and CEO
Century Healthcare

Xerox Awards Six Employees Social Service Leave for 2008
Xerox Corporation

BearingPoint Predicts Rapid Expansion of Health Savings Accounts if Universal Health Coverage Programs are Adopted
BearingPoint, Inc.


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Trust Administrator II or III
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Client Relationship Manager-(Retirement)
for Merrill Lynch
in CO, NJ

Vice President - Equity Compensation
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

PROFIT Plan Supervisor
for Publix Super Markets, Inc.
in FL

Retirement Compliance Specialist
for The Segal Co.
in CA

ERISA Compliance (4-5) Analysts
for Fortune 500 Company
in GA

Defined Benefit Analyst
for The Savitz Organization
in NJ, PA

Benefit Service Representative
for The Savitz Organization
in NJ, PA

Senior Defined Benefit Analyst
for The Savitz Organization
in NJ, PA

Health & Welfare Actuarial - Managing Consultant
for The Savitz Organization
in PA

CRTMA- ERISA Attorney
for Citi
in MA




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