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March 27, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

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Banner ad for Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

EBIA's InPerson Seminar Series

EBIA's InPerson seminars provide education on employee benefits topics to professionals, including TPAs, attorneys, benefits consultants, human resources managers, plan administrators, insurance professionals, and accountants. For information about CE credit, course materials, speakers, locations, and agenda details, and to register, please visit EBIA's InPerson Seminars.

[Guidance Overview] CMS Extends Certain Deadlines for Completing Retiree Drug Subsidy Reconciliations
Excerpt: "Plan sponsors will get additional time to complete their Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) reconciliation under a deadline extension announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday, March 24, 2008.2 The extension applies to plan sponsors with RDS applications for plan years ending in either 2006 or the first quarter of 2007. It provides welcome relief for plan sponsors that have been scrambling to complete the reconciliation. In many cases, plan sponsors had not yet received information from their pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) needed to complete the reconciliation." (The Segal Group, Inc.)


[Guidance Overview] DOL Checklist Offers Key to the Mysteries of Wellness Program Identification
Excerpt: "The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) No. 2008-02, which includes a Wellness Program Checklist, in response to questions concerning what types of programs must be in compliance with the final regulations. The DOL's Wellness Program Checklist takes some of the uncertainty out of this process." (Little Mendelson P.C.)


[Guidance Overview] Hewitt FMLA Resources for Employers
Excerpt: "Several Hewitt resources regarding the Family Medical Leave Act are available for employer reference [on this target page]." (Hewitt Associates)


[Guidance Overview] Plan Exclusion Inapplicable Where 'Illegal' Conduct Held Not Causally Linked to Accident
Excerpt: "This recent district court opinion offers further insight into the various factors that may bear on whether an ERISA plan may deny benefits based upon a plan exclusion for illegal conduct. In this case, the court, applying a de novo standard of review, held that the plan participant's alleged illegal conduct had not been established as the cause of the accident, and therefore reversed the benefit denial." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Guidance Overview] Changes to FMLA Call for Changes in Documents, Posters
Excerpt: "If your Plan Documents incorporate the FMLA and specifically specify that FMLA leave is the traditional '12 workweeks' of leave, the documents will need to be updated to reflect the new 26 week leave entitlement. In addition, some documents may specifically list the qualifying reasons for a 12 week leave - in this case the document should also include the new 12 week entitlement qualifying reason described above. As an alternative, the documents could be amended to incorporate FMLA leave in general without specifying the length of the leave or qualifying reason for the entitlement to leave." (Fort William LLC)


Alliance Seeks Public Comment to Define Six Health Care IT Terms
Excerpt: "The alliance's network workgroup is considering definitions for 'regional health information organization' and 'health information exchange,' while its records workgroup is considering definitions for 'electronic medical records,' 'electronic health records,' and 'personal health records' (Health Data Management, 3/25)." (California HealthCare Foundation; free registration may be required)


Consumer-Directed Health Plans - Mixed Employer Signals, Complex Market Dynamics (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "[It has been] observed that relatively low premium increases in the last two years have reduced the pressure on some employers to introduce CDHPs, reasoning that more modest premium increases can be addressed by employers through increased patient cost sharing in traditional health maintenance organization (HMO) and preferred provider organization (PPO) products." (Center for Studying Health System Change)


U.S. Not Alone in Facing Rising Health Plan Costs, According to Survey
Excerpt: "Canadian private health care plans continue to face double-digit cost increases in 2008, according to a nationwide survey of insurers and Blue Cross agencies released by Buck Consultants." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Massachusetts Officials Seeking to Reduce Cost of Health Insurance Law
Excerpt: "Massachusetts officials are seeking ways to address the increasing costs of the state's health insurance law as 'the state faces a recession and pivotal funding decisions that could make or break health reform,' the Boston Globe reports. The state faces a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, with the health insurance initiative facing about a $100 million shortfall." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


95% of Online Poll Respondents Say Nation's Health Care System Needs Fundamental Change
Excerpt: "Most respondents to an online poll released on Tuesday by the AFL-CIO believe that the health care system requires major changes, regardless of whether they have health insurance . . . ." (Kaiser Family Foundation)



Sponsored by: ALM

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Banner ad for ALM

Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.

(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] Equity Interests in Limited Liability Corporations (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "This article addresses the ways in which an LLC can share equity with its employees, and includes a discussion of the favorable tax treatment available to employees. This article appears in The Journal of Employee Ownership and Finance (Winter 2008)." (National Center for Employee Ownership via Janich Law Group)


[Guidance Overview] Continued Insurance Coverage, Reimbursement and In-Kind Benefit Commitments Under Section 409A
7 pages. Excerpt: "It is vital to properly structure insurance coverage, reimbursement and in-kind benefit commitments to either avoid deferred compensation status under Section 409A or to comply with the rules of Section 409A. The regulations under Section 409A provide much flexibility to make such commitments workable, at least with respect to most commonly provided commitments." (Faegre & Benson LLP)


Non-Profit Employees Have Commitment but Face Pay, Work-Life Difficulties
Excerpt: "Workers for non-profit employers say they are ready to make a long-term commitment to the non-profit space, but that salary and work-life balance concerns make carrying out that commitment difficult. That was a key finding of a recent survey of 1,750 nonprofit employees including many who wanted a long-term career, but argued that non-profit organizations are not doing enough to help them overcome potential career obstacles." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Washington Legislative Update
in District of Columbia on May 19, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services Expands 401k TPA Services Team
John Hancock Retirement Plan Services



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