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March 28, 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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Banner ad for University Conference Services

How Do Your Medical Plan's Vital Signs Look?

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.

[Guidance Overview] U. S. Supreme Court Affirms EEOC Medicare Coordination Ruling
Excerpt: "In a closely watched case, the United States Supreme Court has refused the AARP's request for review of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in AARP v. EEOC, thereby affirming the EEOC's ability to exempt from the age discrimination statutes the coordination of retiree health benefits with Medicare. This ruling clears the way for employers to design retiree health benefit plans that feature coordination of these benefits." (Littler Mendelson P.C.)


[Guidance Overview] Compliance with 'Never Event' Health Insurance Policies (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "This Health Care Alert addresses compliance with 'never event' policies of health plans, recent Texas case law developments affecting health care provider relationships with health plans, Texas rule changes on underpayment penalties, United Healthcare's fine for violating Texas prompt payment rules and the final order in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield settlement with physicians and physician societies and associations." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)


Survey of Companies in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia Shows Only Small Increase in High-Deductible Employee Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "Consumers and businesses remain wary of high-deductible and 'consumer-driven' health care plans, which have been available since 2001 and marketed as a way for businesses to reduce their own health care expenses, according to a regional survey released today." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


Analyses Suggest the Meteoric Rise of Angioplasty During the Past Three Decades Has Ended
Excerpt: "The rise of angioplasty procedures has leveled off and appears to be on the decline,' says Duke University's Eric Peterson, who reviewed results of the analysis by the National Cardiovascular Data Registry. Three major studies published in the past two years indicate that using the procedure to open blocked arteries to treat chest pain, or angina, may be riskier and no more beneficial than medication.' (USA TODAY)


Employers Say Measuring ROI on Onsite Clinics Is a Top Concern
Excerpt: "[45%] of employers cite inadequate measures of performance as the top challenge in operating the centers, reports a new study by Watson Wyatt." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)


Congress Considers Medicare Legislation
Excerpt: "Medicare and Medicaid legislation has seen considerable debate this legislative session. The Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (S. 2499) delayed scheduled cuts in physician reimbursements for six months, reauthorized the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for 18 months and required employer-provided health plans to provide enrollment data to the secretary of Health and Human Services . . . ." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)


Washington, D.C. May Require Paid Sick Leave
Excerpt: "Washington, D.C. City Council recently passed the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, which requires all city businesses to provide paid sick leave for their employees. The Act does not become effective until the Mayor approves it and until a 30-day Congressional review period passes without Congress acting on the bill." (Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP)


Clinton Details Premium Cap in Health Plan
Excerpt: "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview on Wednesday that if elected president she would push for a universal health care plan that would limit what Americans pay for health insurance to no more than 10 percent of their income, a significant reduction for some families." (The New York Times; free registration required)


"Angie's List" Will Rate Health Care Industry
Excerpt: "In the latest sign that consumerism is becoming a major force in the health-care industry, Indianapolis-based Angie's List on Monday unveiled a new service that allows its members to rate physicians, dentists, pharmacies and health insurers." (IndyStar.com)


Martin County, Indiana, Officials Consider Health Insurance Changes
Excerpt: "This year, the county pays $3,500 per family and $1,500 per single employee in each employee's health savings account. The health savings account is included with the county's health insurance program." (Washington Times-Herald)


Benefits Eligibility Change Proposed for Maine's State Workers
Excerpt: "Questioning what he calls 'outdated' and 'outrageous' benefit policies, House Majority Whip Peter F. Kilmartin has proposed a plan to increase the minimum number of hours that state employees must work in order to receive health-care benefits from 20 to 35. 'Getting full health care for working 20 hours a week? Honestly, I think that's reminiscent of sunnier days in state government,' Kilmartin, D-Pawtucket, said." (The Providence Journal)


[Opinion] It's Time to Separate Health Insurance from the Workplace
Excerpt: "The involvement of employers in providing health coverage, almost unique to the United States, is an artifact of a moment in history. Wage-price controls in place during World War II prevented unions in war-related industries from bargaining over salary, so they turned to negotiations for health benefits instead. Half of all Americans with health insurance now get it from an employer. But why should employers be involved in their employees' health care?" (The Baltimore Sun)


[Opinion] Who Really Pays for Health Care in the United States?
Excerpt: "Americans believe employers pay the bulk of workers' premiums, government pays for Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program and individuals pay some premiums as well as deductibles and co-pays. This is wrong. Business, government and individuals do not share the financial responsibility for health coverage. Individuals bear the full cost of health care through lower wages and taxes." (Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Victor R. Fuchs via Chicago Tribune)



Sponsored by: ALM

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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

[Official Guidance] IRS Notice 2008-42: Modifications of Split-Dollar Life Insurance Arrangement Entailing No Change to Underlying Life Insurance Contract (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This notice provides guidance regarding the application of §§ 101(j) and 264(f) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) to life insurance contracts that are subject to split-dollar life insurance arrangements. Specifically, this notice provides that a modification of a split-dollar life insurance arrangement that does not entail any change to the life insurance contract underlying the arrangement will not be treated as a material change in the life insurance contract for purposes of §§ 101(j) and 264(f)." (Internal Revenue Service)


Adjusting Retirement Goals and Savings Behavior: The Role of Financial Education (PDF)
Excerpt: "To assist employees of colleges and universities and other nonprofit organizations achieve their retirement goals, TIAA-CREF offers financial education seminars on most college campuses. These voluntary programs offer faculty and staff the opportunity to learn more about the retirement process, income needs in retirement, investment strategies, and basic retirement programs. This paper examines the information contained in these financial education seminars offered by TIAA-CREF associates and assesses how these programs influenced individuals to modify their retirement goals and alter their retirement planning." (TIAA-CREF Institute)



[Opinion] Lock Them in a Room and Require Entitlement Reform
Excerpt: "Based on the current growth rate of entitlement costs -- $2 trillion per year under a 75-year time horizon and $12 trillion per year if measured on a permanent basis -- wouldn't it be smarter not to wait for next year's lawmakers to show up? Given the massive electoral advantages incumbents enjoy, most of them will probably be the same people, anyway. Why not lock them all up in a room this year -- let's say next Thursday -- until they can come to agreement on how to balance entitlement program finances, even if only for the next 75 years?" (American Spectator (Online) via Cato Institute)


[Opinion] Social Security - Still Alive and Kicking
Excerpt: "This year, as happens every year, when the Trustees' Report on Social Security and Medicare is released, commentators seized on the forecasts to proclaim imminent disaster and called for privatization of Social Security. In fact, the official forecasts, released yesterday, differ only marginally from those of 2007. The report underlines that we need to solve problems in these safety net programs. But there is no imminent Social Security crisis; in fact, the outlook is marginally better than it was a year ago." (Bernard Wasow via takingnote.tcf.org)



Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Bank On It! A New DOL Focus On Deferral Deposits
Nationwide on April 29, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius

Disease Management - Overcoming Legal Compliance Hurdles
in California on April 16, 2008
presented by Healthcare Web Summit

HIPAA and Other Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
in Georgia on April 30, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Successful Individual Market Entry: Developing sound strategies and executing to win
in California on April 10, 2008
presented by Healthcare Web Summit



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U.S. Retirement Assets Grew Substantially in Last 10 Years, But Face a Challenging 2008
Watson Wyatt

U.S. Department of Labor Obtains Order Requiring Seneca, S.C., Company to Restore More Than $1.5 Million to 401(k) Profit-Sharing Plan
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Great-West Retirement ServiceŽ Announces Managed Account Program Assets More Than Doubled In 2007
Great-West Retirement Services

The National Managed Care Leadership 2008 Directory
Healthcare Web Summit



We're one of the top 350 employment sites on the web!Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Consulting/Marketing Manager
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Implementation Consultant
for Ceridian
in IL

Defined Benefit Sr Analyst
for Affiliated Computer Services
in NJ

Life Insurance Administrator
for Pension Investors Corporation
in FL

Document Design Specialist
for Kidder Benefits Consultants, Inc.
in IA

Primary Administrator for Qualified Retirement Plans
for Kidder Benefits Consultants, Inc.
in AZ




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