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April 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 WorldatWork

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WorldatWork publications in the BenefitsLink Bookstore

WorldatWork, a not-for-profit professional association, is a leading publisher of compensation, benefits and total rewards information. With a portfolio of books, reports, survey briefs, booklets and online learning programs, WorldatWork creates, markets and distributes publications that are critical to improved organizational performance. WorldatWork has contributed to the education and development of business professionals worldwide since 1955.

[Guidance Overview] IRS Finalizes Regulations on Employer Comparable Contributions (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The IRS has issued final regulations that provide guidance on employer comparable HSA contributions when an employee has not established an HSA by year end and when an employer accelerates HSA contributions for employees who have incurred qualified medical expenses. These rules only apply to HSA contributions made by employers that do not provide employees the opportunity to make HSA contributions through a cafeteria plan." (Buck Consultants)


[Guidance Overview] Medical Leave -- Is One Certification Enough? (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "On April 7, 2008 the California Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Lonicki v. Sutter Health Central. In a fractured 3-3-1 decision, the Court held that an employer is not precluded from challenging an employee's serious health condition simply because the employer did not obtain a third opinion regarding the employee's condition. The Court also held that an employee's ability to continue to perform a similar job on a part-time basis for another employer following a request for leave is not conclusive evidence that the employee is able to perform the same work for the original employer." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Claimant Not Entitled to Appeal-Level Physician's Report Prior to Plan's Final Decision on Appeal
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Both of the circuit courts that have addressed this issue to date (the Tenth and the Eleventh Circuits) have concluded that a claimant is not entitled to appeal-level medical reports prior to the plan decision maker's final decision on appeal." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Opinion] Providing Health Care for All Shouldn't Make Insurers Rich
Excerpt: "Government subsidies and outsourcing may be good for business without always being good for the public. Medicare outsources the administration of its prescription drug program, Medicare D, to private insurers. Medicare Advantage -- Medicare C -- subsidizes managed care insurance plans for seniors choosing them. Several current presidential aspirants -- Clinton and Obama -- would subsidize the purchase of insurance for the low-income uninsured. Each of these plans offers private insurers protection against a less wasteful plan, one that does without private insurers." (Herald Times via Physicians for a National Health Program)


Executive Summaries, Benefits Quarterly, 2nd Quarter 2008
Excerpt: "Wellness -- how it's evolved, how it's working and the effect on the bottom line -- is the focus of the 2nd quarter issue of Benefits Quarterly." (International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists)


Supreme Court Seems Torn Over Disability Insurance Conflict-of-Interest Case
Excerpt: "In an hour of intense arguments in which the U.S. Solicitor General joined with the claimant, the justices first wrestled with the question of the level of scrutiny lower courts should consider in cases where the insurance company plays a dual role." (The National Underwriter Company; free registration or paid subscription required)


Reinsurance: A Primer (PDF)
Excerpt: "In this issue brief, Families USA aims to help policymakers and advocates better understand what reinsurance is and how it operates in the health insurance market. We also identify some of the benefits of reinsurance to aid lawmakers as they design reinsurance programs to meet the needs of their states." (Families USA)


Microsoft Says Web 2.0 Essential to Helping Consumers Take Control of Their Health Care
Excerpt: "Microsoft says Web 2.0 is the technology that will help consumers take control of their health care and health information. [Attendees were told] at Microsoft's Health & Life Sciences Developer and Solutions Conference . . . that Web 2.0 technologies moved information out of isolated silos and into interlinked community computing platforms that function like software for users." (eWeek.com)


Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, H.R. 493, as Passed by Senate (PDF)
Excerpt: "Resolved, That the bill from the House of Representatives (H.R. 493) entitled 'An Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment', do pass with the following [amendments.]" (U.S. Senate via American Benefits Council)


ERISA Plan Not Subject to Labor Arbitration
Excerpt: "Steelworkers v. Rohm, ___F.3d___(3rd Cir. April 14, 2008) is an important decision. The court holds that a dispute over an ERISA disability plan is generally not subject to labor arbitration." (Adjunct Law Prof Blog)


USA Today Examines Stand-Alone Emergency Departments
Excerpt: "USA Today on Friday examined the increasing number of stand-alone emergency departments, which have 'spurred questions about their limited services, their ability to decrease the overall burden for area hospitals and their impact on health care spending.'" (Kaiser Family Foundation)



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

Federal Banking Official Sees End of Pensions Within Years
Excerpt: "Speaking at the Association of BellTel Retirees annual meeting . . ., Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., chairman of the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., warned that pension plans once taken for granted are evaporating and will disappear, along with affordable access to health insurance -- leaving tens of millions of retirees vulnerable, destitute, hungry, sick and willing to take matters into their own hands." (Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.)


When the Company Share Price Is a Factor in Compensation
Excerpt: "[47] percent of private sector employees in the United States have had at least part of their compensation tied to their company's profitability or stock price. That's right. If you include stock options, deferred stock, profit sharing or cash bonuses pegged to a company's performance, nearly half of the 114 million employees of private-sector companies had some stock or profit-related pay at the end of 2006." (The New York Times; free registration required)


High Court Hears Benefits Conflict-of-Interest Case
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court will decide whether a benefit plan administrator that both determines and pays benefits operates under a conflict of interest that must be considered by courts reviewing benefits cases." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Telecommuting: Ten Legal Considerations
Excerpt: "Before permitting employees to telecommute, employers should consider the ten legal issues outlined [in the target page]. Employers are also well-advised to develop a written telecommuter agreement advising telecommuting employees of their responsibilities and requiring them to commit to certain performance band behavioral expectations." (Troutman Sanders LLP)


Biotech Executives Learn About Value-Based Benefits and Employee Health and Workforce Productivity
Excerpt: "Attendees at BayBio2008 learned about value-based benefits, one of today's fastest growing trends in the health care and biotech industries. At the core of a value-based approach is the concept that benefits should be viewed as a corporate investment rather than as an expense. Organizations with this mindset are in a better position to offer programs that enhance employee health and productivity, which ultimately positively impact company success." (Business Wire via NewsEdge via Human Resource Executive Online)


Three Small to Midsize Businesses Show That Size Doesn't Matter in the Growing Trend to Embrace Work-Life Flexibility
Excerpt: "Flexibility is the way business gets done,' says Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of Women Entrepreneurs, Inc. and moderator of recent panel about flexible work options sponsored by the Department of Labor. The panel featured three small to midsize businesses (SMBs) in a variety of industries across the United States. Each panelist shared their own unique take on finding an appropriate work-life balance - proving that for even the smallest of businesses, a flexible workplace is possible without stretching companies to their limits of patience and resources." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)


GASB Revamps 2008 Technical Plan
Excerpt: "The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has added three projects to its current agenda -- including a review of existing postemployment benefits standards." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


IRS Updates 2007-2008 Priority Guidance Plan
Excerpt: "The updated 2007-2008 Priority Guidance Plan lists regulations and other guidance still under development. It also adds new items and indicates which items have already been published. Here are some of the significant projects affecting 401(k) plans and health plans that are listed as outstanding in the updated Priority Guidance Plan . . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2008 NCCMP Annual Conference
in Florida on September 20, 2008
presented by National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans

Form 5500 for Health and Welfare Plans: A Guided Tour for Employers, Form 5500 Preparers, and Advisors
Nationwide on May 15, 2008
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA)/Thomson Tax & Accounting

HIPAA and Other Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
Nationwide on May 14, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Prescription for Change: The Employer’s Role in Healing the Health Care System Webcast
Nationwide on May 8, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Wellness Programs in the Workplace: What’s Allowed, What Isn’t, and What Designs Work Best?
Nationwide on April 17, 2008
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA)/Thomson Tax & Accounting



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

70% of Responding Organizations Provide Retirement or Financial Planning Education to Employees
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Benefit Informatics Selected by Diversified Group Brokerage to Expand Client Data Analysis, Reporting and Communications
Benefit Informatics

Barbara Johnson assumes role of Managing Director at Atéssa Benefits, Inc.
Atéssa Benefits, Inc.



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