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March 4, 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] No Supreme Court Review for ERISA Plan in Mississippi Subrogation Case
Excerpt: "This is the case in which the Mississippi Supreme Court denied ERISA reimbursement, upholding state law prohibiting subrogation against a minor." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

[Guidance Overview] Guide for Employers on Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Excerpt: "This guide briefly explains how protections for veterans with service-connected disabilities differ under USERRA and the ADA, and then describes how the ADA in particular applies to recruiting, hiring, and accommodating veterans with service-connected disabilities." (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

[Guidance Overview] Q&A Guide for Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities in the Workplace and on the Americans with Disabilities Act
Excerpt: "This guide answers questions that veterans with service-connected disabilities may have about the protections they are entitled to when they seek to return to their former jobs or look to find their first, or new, civilian jobs. It also explains changes or adjustments that veterans may need, because of their injuries, to apply for, or perform, a job, or to enjoy equal access to the workplace. Finally, this guide includes resources on where veterans can find more information about the employment rights of individuals with disabilities." (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

[Opinion] American Benefits Council Letter to House Leadership Urging Rejection of H.R. 1424 (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Our members highly value and have long recognized the importance of effective health coverage for the treatment of both physical and behavioral conditions. Indeed, because of our members' commitment to these services, we have repeatedly urged that Congress either continue current federal parity standards for mental health coverage or modify them only in ways that would not add to plan costs or increase the complexity of plan administration, which could unintentionally risk a reduction in coverage for these or other benefits provided to employees and their families." (American Benefits Council)

[Opinion] Civil Union Appeals Offer No Reason to Redefine Marriage
Excerpt: "The complaints concern out-of-state-based companies that are regulated by the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and therefore are not required to provide expensive health benefits to same-sex couples." (Asbury Park Press)

CBO Letter to Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Member on Mental Health Parity Legislation Cost (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "As you requested, the attachment to this letter responds to your questions concerning the Congressional Budget Office's . . . cost estimate for H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007." (Congressional Budget Office via American Benefits Council)

CBO Letter to Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman on Mental Health Parity Legislation Cost (PDF)
Excerpt: "As you requested, the attachment to this letter responds to your questions concerning the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO's) cost estimate for H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007." (Congressional Budget Office via American Benefits Council)

Wisconsin Worker Files Grievance Over Denial of Marriage Leave
Excerpt: "SUMMARY: Leigh Robert and her union rep say Sheboygan schools' refusal to give her two days' paid leave after her Canadian same-sex nuptial is discrimination." (Planet Out via Yahoo! News)

USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health Survey: The Public on Prescription Drugs and Pharma.ceutical Companies
Excerpt: "[The survey] finds Americans greatly value prescription drugs' potential benefits for their families, but most believe they cost too much money and many struggle to pay for needed medicines. The survey also provides a comprehensive look at Americans' views on, and experiences with, prescription drugs and the pharma.ceutical industry, including drug costs, advertisements, safety issues, government regulation and medical research." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

LTD Plan's Demand of Objective Proof of Migraines Is Not Wrong, According to Court
Excerpt: "The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has determined a long-term disability plan administrator was not wrong in requiring objective proof a participant suffered debilitating migraines that made her eligible for plan benefits." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

EEOC Issues Guides on Injured Vets' Workplace Issues
Excerpt: "The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Friday issued two question-and-answer (Q&A) guides providing technical assistance for employers and veterans on workplace issues affecting veterans with service-connected disabilities." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

New York Times Letters to the Editor Address Concerns About Genetic Discrimination by Employers, Health Insurers
Excerpt: "The New York Times on Sunday published several letters to the editor that address a Feb. 24 article on concerns about genetic discrimination by employers and health insurers." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

New Jersey Paid Family Leave Program Wins Approval in Senate
Excerpt: "New Jersey would become the state second in the nation to offer employees a paid family leave program under a bill the state Senate approved today despite dire predictions from opponents who said New Jersey cannot afford it." (The Star-Ledger)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Official Guidance] Text of Proposed Labor Regs: 7-Day Safe Harbor for Participant Contributions for Plans Having Fewer Than 100 Participants (PDF)
Excerpt: "[T]he Department believes that adoption of a '7-business day' safe harbor rule would present little, if any, additional risk to plan participants and beneficiaries. In this regard, the Department believes that most employers with small plans that are taking longer than 7 business days to deposit participant contributions will expedite the depositing of those contributions to take advantage of the safe harbor. The Department also believes that where participant contributions are being made by employers with small plans within a period shorter than 7 business days, few employers with small plans will incur the costs attendant to modifying their payroll system in order to hold such contributions for a few additional days." (Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor)

[Guidance Overview] Insurance Policy 'Discretionary Clauses' After Rush Prudential - An Endangered Species?
Excerpt: "Not only is there no ERISA provision directly providing a lenient standard for judicial review of benefit denials, but there is no requirement necessarily entailing such an effect even indirectly. When this Court dealt with the review standards on which the statute was silent, we held that a general or default rule of de novo review could be replaced by deferential review if the ERISA plan itself provided that the plan's benefit determinations were matters of high or unfettered discretion . . . ." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

[Guidance Overview] FASB to Propose Disclosure of More Asset Categories and Asset Valuation Assumptions
Excerpt: "The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has instructed its staff to issue an FASB Staff Position (FSP) paper by March 7, 2008, that proposes to improve disclosures about postretirement benefit plan assets now required by Financial Accounting Statement (FAS ) No. 132(R), Employers' Disclosures about Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits." (Wolters Kluwer Financial Services)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Provides Transition Relief for 'Tainted' Performance-Based Compensation (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Now that the IRS has issued Revenue Ruling 2008-13, companies have additional time to review employment agreements, plans, and contracts to identify payment terms similar to the terms described in the ruling and to determine potential 'fixes' for future performance-based compensation. Although the transition relief is helpful, companies need to review and monitor the expiration and renewal provisions of employment agreements to determine the applicable transition period." (Holme Roberts & Owen LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Section 162(m) - IRS Confirms Previous Private Letter Ruling; Ruling Will Be Effective on a Going-Forward Basis
Excerpt: "Companies should review plans and arrangements that are intended to qualify as performance-based compensation under Section 162(m) to determine if the plans or arrangements provide that compensation will be paid without regard to whether the performance goal is attained if an individual is involuntarily terminated, terminates his or her employment for good reason, or retires." (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Delays Application of Its Holding Under Recent Section 162(m) Executive Performance Pay Ruling (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "Publicly traded corporations should consider the following actions during the transition period: Review any agreement providing performance-based compensation covered by Code section 162(m) (or acceleration of such compensation) to determine if it would permit payment upon the impermissible employment terminations (i.e., terminations other than death, disability and change in control) regardless of the level of performance attained; If any agreement subject to Code section 162(m) contains such language, consider amending it, as necessary, so that the performance-based compensation will be paid only if actual performance is achieved or upon death, disability or change in control; and Consider the implications for the company's proxy disclosures related to performance-based compensation." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

2007 Conference Highlights: National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans
Excerpt: "Click on the links . . . to view the videos of our 2007 Annual Conference in Flash Player format. If you do not have the free Flash Player you can download it by clicking on the red Adobe Flash logo located in the box [on the target page]." (National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

EGTRRA Pre-approved Plan Workshop
in Oregon on April 10, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U.S. Labor Department Extends Annual Reports Deadline After Severe Weather Hits Kentucky
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Parents Who Web Commute Balance Work and Family with Citrix GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting
Citrix Systems, Inc.


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in OH

Benefits Communications Manager
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in MO

Relationship Manager
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in AZ

Home Based Participant Services Representative
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