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February 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] Golden Gate Restaurant Association - Employer Mandates and ERISA Preemption in the Ninth Circuit
Excerpt: "This Article focuses on two significant questions in the aftermath of the Ninth Circuit's decision in Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which stayed a District Court ruling that had held the San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance preempted by federal law. The core of that ordinance is the requirement that covered employers in San Francisco make minimum outlays for their own programs for their employees' health care or instead make contributions in the required amounts to the city to finance either San Francisco's Health Access Program (HAP) or municipally-run health reimbursement accounts. I conclude that under the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions construing ERISA Section 514(a), ERISA preempts the San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance." (Social Science Research Network)

[Guidance Overview] Department of Labor Amends FMLA and Releases Proposed New FMLA Regulations
Excerpt: "On February 11, the U.S. Department of Labor published a proposal to update its regulations under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The proposed regulations are aimed at providing clarity for both workers and employers about the practical application of the 15 year-old law. The DOL developed the proposed regulations in response to court decisions invalidating portions of the existing regulations, discussions with various stakeholders, and over 15,000 comments received in response to a DOL-issued Request for Information." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)

[Guidance Overview] DOL Proposes New FMLA Regulations After Congress Expands Statutory Protections (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The DOL's proposed changes build on the agency's December 2006 Request for Information, whereby DOL sought public comments on numerous FMLA issues. Among other items, DOL's recent proposals address what constitutes a serious health condition; substitution of paid leave; notice requirements for employees and employers; and medical certification procedures." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Federal Employees' Sick Leave - Insurance or Entitlement?
Excerpt: "Many feel the biggest gap between CSRS and FERS is in sick leave. CSRS employees can accumulate unlimited amounts. When they are otherwise eligible to retire they can apply their unused sick leave toward their service time. That can boost, sometimes big time, the value of their lifetime annuity." (Federal News Radio)

Legal Move Pushes GM Retiree Plan Ahead
Excerpt: "The United Auto Workers and General Motors Corp. have taken a big legal step toward shifting billions in retiree health care costs from the automaker to an independent trust fund. The union and attorneys representing several retirees sued GM on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit in an effort to get court approval of the change. It would cover about 500,000 GM retirees and spouses, plus current UAW workers when they retire. The lawsuit is not a hostile action. GM will not oppose its major points and joined the UAW and retirees in filing a settlement agreement that would govern how the trust would be run. If the court approves, the trust will take on $46.7 billion in health care costs starting as early as Jan. 1, 2010." (AP Online via NewsEdge Corporation via Human Resource Executive Online)

Creating Sustainable Local Health Information Exchanges - Can Barriers to Stakeholder Participation be Overcome?
Excerpt: "Findings from a study of stakeholder perspectives on participation in four HIEs by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) and the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation suggest, however, that barriers to achieving data exchange remain high. Concerns about loss of competitive advantage and data misuse impede provider and health plan willingness to contribute patient data. Additionally, uncertainty about who benefits from HIEs is affecting stakeholder willingness to fund the exchanges." (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Escalating Health-Care Costs Hit Churches as Insurance for Pastors Draining the Coffers
Excerpt: "Declining church memberships, combined with aging clergy, rocketing health-care costs and dwindling donations, are creating conflicts for church leaders who are caught between caring for their ministers and managing budgets. At the same time, national researchers have found that mainline Protestant ministers tend to be more overweight, stressed and depressed -- all of which carry significant health risks -- than the general population." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Democratic Candidates' Health Plans Not Specific Enough to Determine How Uninsured Would Respond
Excerpt: "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton contends that the only way to achieve universal health coverage, and to make the marketplace fair and efficient, is to require that everyone have insurance. . . . Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, shares her goal of insuring all Americans. But he says that a mandate could mean financial devastation for middle-class families if the government did not first adequately reduce the cost of insurance." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Insurance Fears Lead Many to Shun DNA Tests
Excerpt: "The first, much-anticipated benefits of personalized medicine are being lost or diluted for many Americans who are too afraid that genetic information may be used against them to take advantage of its growing availability. In some cases, doctors say, patients who could make more informed health care decisions if they learned whether they had inherited an elevated risk of diseases like breast and colon cancer refuse to do so because of the potentially dire economic consequences." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Health Coverage Often Stops at the Campus Gate
Excerpt: "Stephen C. Caulfield, chairman of the Chickering Group, a unit of the Aetna Company that provides university-sponsored plans at 170 colleges and universities, said uninsured and underinsured students are a major concern. 'A significant number of college students (nearly 4.5 million, including many graduate students) do not have coverage, and many more do not have adequate coverage,' he wrote in an e-mail message. The reason colleges and universities have sponsored health insurance programs, he added, 'is to promote adequate access to quality health care at a reasonable cost for all students.'" (The New York Times; free registration required)

[Opinion] Ill-Advised 2003 Law Prevents Consideration of Some of Best and Fairest Ways to Begin Fixing Medicare
Excerpt: "The administration has made no effort to reduce the lavish and unjustified subsidies granted to the private health plans that participate in Medicare. Eliminating them could save Medicare far more general revenue money than reducing drug-program subsidies would." (The New York Times; free registration required)


Sponsored by: University Conference Services

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Are you searching for a new strategy that will contain your health care costs yet distinguish you as an employer of choice? The Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers, April 27-30, 2008, in Boston, offers practical, reality-based solutions that will ensure the "health" of your benefit plans.

(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] IRS Issues More Section 162(m) Guidance
Excerpt: "Public companies subject to the $1 million deduction limit of Internal Revenue Code Section 162(m) should continue to monitor the fallout from IRS Revenue Ruling 2008-13 for further developments, and should give themselves plenty of lead time to implement changes to employment agreements and plan documents." (McDermott Will & Emery)

IRS Wants to Tax Golden Parachutes - Its Proposal Would Mean Rewriting Most Pay Contracts
Excerpt: "This is not the IRS's first revisiting of Section 162(m), which was created in 1993 with the intention of reining in executive pay but has arguably had the reverse effect, ballooning compensation for top officers through dramatically expanded use of stock options, stock grants, non-cash compensation and other tools of the exec-comp trade over the past 15 years." (Financial Week; free registration required)

New edition of The Stock Options Book
The NCEO presents excerpts from the new edition of The Stock Options Book, a comprehensive guide to employee stock options. The book also covers employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs). It is a required text in the Certified Equity Professional (CEP) program. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

New edition of Selected Issues in Equity Compensation
The NCEO presents excerpts from the new edition of Selected Issues in Equity Compensation, which provides in-depth coverage of topics like administrative issues, securities laws, etc., as they relate to equity compensation plans such as employee stock options and employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs). It is a required text in the Certified Equity Professional (CEP) program. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

New edition of Beyond Stock Options
The NCEO presents excerpts from the new edition of Beyond Stock Options, which covers restricted stock, phantom stock, stock appreciation rights, and other alternatives to employee stock options. It is a required text in the Certified Equity Professional (CEP) program. The book includes a CD with model plan documents. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

New edition of Accounting for Equity Compensation
The NCEO presents excerpts from the new edition of Accounting for Equity Compensation, which provides detailed coverage of how to account for stock options, ESPPs, and other equity instruments under SFAS 123(R). It is a required text in the Certified Equity Professional (CEP) program. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Highlights from IFEBP Employee Benefits Survey - U.S. and Can.ada, 2007 (PDF)
Pages 3, 12 of 24 pages. Excerpt: "[An online survey conducted in 2007 resulted] in 1,233 responses from corporations, professional service firms, public employers and multiemployer benefit plans. The survey looked at all types of benefits: pensions; health, dental and prescription drug plans; life insurance; disability benefits; adoption assistance; holidays; voluntary benefits; and paid leave. [There is limited public access to this Web-based highlight summary.]" (International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists)

Benefits Plan Design & Strategies - 2008's Top Topics
Excerpt: "The three top themes for benefits managers this year are OPEB, fees and sustainability." (Congressional Quarterly, Inc.)

Yahoo Sued for Spurning Microsoft
Excerpt: "Two Detroit pension funds have sued Yahoo Inc. and its board of directors, saying they breached their duties to shareholders in trying to thwart a takeover by Microsoft Corp." (AP via Yahoo! News)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Creating a Healthier Bottom Line: Controlling Benefit Costs through Healthier Employees and Better Care Management
in California on March 5, 2008
presented by International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists - Orange County Chapter

DOL's Proposed FMLA Regs: New Obligations and Opportunities for HR Professionals
Nationwide on March 18, 2008
presented by Thompson Interactive, A Division of Thompson Publishing Group

How to Comply with New FMLA Rules Affecting Military Family Members
Nationwide on February 26, 2008
presented by Thompson Interactive, A Division of Thompson Publishing Group

Wellness Programs That Maximize ROI: What Works & What Doesn't
Nationwide on March 26, 2008
presented by Thompson Interactive, A Division of Thompson Publishing Group


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Wachovia Securities Launches FundSource 401k Plan
Wachovia Corporation

Dow Jones Launches Real Return Target Date Index Series
Dow Jones Indexes


We're one of the top 350 employment sites on the web!Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Pension Administrator
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in NY

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in TX

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in NJ

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in FL

401(k) / Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for R.J.L. Pension Services, Inc.
in FL

Senior Counsel, Benefits & Employment Law
for Philips Electronics North America
in MA

Regional Retirement Plan Consultant
for RBC Dain Rauscher
in NC

DC Plan Administrator
for CMC Retirement and Employee Benefits Specialists
in CA

Defined Benefit Plan Administrator
for CMC Retirement and Employee Benefits Specialists, Inc.
in CA

CRTMA - Participant Accountant - ABA
for Citi
in ME

Reconciliation Specialist
for Citi
in ME

Defined Contribution / 401-K Plan Administrator
for Pension Actuarial Consulting Firm
in NY




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