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June 3, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

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Banner ad for International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

E-learning Benefit Courses From the International Foundation

You don’t need a navy suit to get ahead at your job. Put on those fuzzy slippers, grab your computer mouse and learn with the International Foundation. The International Foundation’s e-learning courses provide the highest quality education covering all employee benefit topics, from the basics to compliance technicalities. Prove you know your stuff and get to the next level with the International Foundation’s e-learning courses. And bring your pink bunny slippers along for the ride.

[Guidance Overview] Iowa State Supreme Court Case Rejects ERISA Preemption Defense in COB Dispute
Excerpt: "This state court case suggests an argument against ERISA preemption of state regulation of self funded group health plans based upon the presence of stop loss coverage, or some will so contend based upon the case outcome. More particularly, the case holding turns on consideration of a preemption argument advanced by a stop loss carrier in a contract dispute with its insured, the sponsor of a group health plan, and an individual policy insurance carrier that had a coverage obligation if the group health plan did not." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


In 2006, Health Care Spending Averaged $7,026 Per Person; by 2017, That Will Shoot Up to $13,101
Excerpt: "The rise in spending has fed a growing demand for cost-control tools, creating an industry of disease management companies, consumer-directed health plans, quality initiatives, wellness programs, and more. All of those measures are still works in progress, but nothing has significantly blunted the spending increases. In fact, the single biggest recent reduction has come in pharma.ceuticals . . . ." (Managed Care)


New Jersey Lawmaker Touts Legislation That Would Deregulate Health Insurance in State
Excerpt: "New Jersey Assembly member Jay Webber (R) said legislation he introduced that would deregulate health insurance in the state would be effective in reducing the number of uninsured U.S. residents, the Bergen Record reports. Last week, Webber introduced a bill to allow state residents to purchase health insurance across state lines." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Health Care Expenses for Adults with Chronic Conditions, 2005 (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "About 29 percent of all expenses for medical care for persons age 18–34 were for treatment of chronic conditions versus about half for persons age 35–54 (figure 3). In contrast, more than half of medical expenses for the near elderly (55–64) and elderly (65 and over) populations were for treatment of chronic conditions (56.6 and 58.9 percent, respectively)." (U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)


Finding Wellness's Return on Investment
Excerpt: "As employers increasingly recognize the crucial role they can play in improving the health and well-being of employees, they are searching for hard evidence that their mounting financial investments in wellness programs are paying off. Despite numerous challenges in quantifying wellness programs' bottom-line results, some employers are digging up the proof they need." (Society for Human Resource Management)


The Limited Appeal of Limited-Benefit Health Insurance
Excerpt: "It's easy to understand the appeal of these policies to politicians and business owners, who are scrambling to find ways to insure people amid escalating costs. But consumers need to ask hard questions about what they're really getting for their money and read the fine print of any policy they're considering. 'I could cover everybody for a dollar a head, but the policy wouldn't cover a toothbrush,' says Karen Pollitz, a research professor at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University." (U.S. News & World Report)


Covering the Uninsured in the U.S.
Excerpt: "The U.S. is the only wealthy industrialized nation that does not guarantee universal health care for its citizens. Currently 47 million Americans, or 18 percent of the non-elderly population, lack health insurance. The problem of the uninsured has been a major concern for policy makers for years and is back in the spotlight this year due to the presidential election and a recent major health care reform in Massachusetts. In 'Covering the Uninsured in the U.S.' (NBER Working Paper 13758) researcher Jonathan Gruber reviews the lessons of economic research regarding the uninsured and conducts simulations to show the effects of several popular reform proposals to increase access to care." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)


Paid Family Leave Becomes Hot Workplace Issue
Excerpt: "Up until last month, California and Washington were the only states with any type of family leave legislation on the books. New Jersey passed a paid leave bill in late May. New Jersey and Washington's programs take effect in 2009. . . . There are movements in a handful of other states, including New York, Massachusetts and Oregon, to implement paid leave, but many advocates believe time off with pay should be mandated at the federal level. Two bills now circulating in Congress would mandate eight to 12 weeks of paid leave." (MSNBC.com)


Impacts of Health Care Reform in Massachusetts at One Year
Excerpt: "In roughly the first year under reform, uninsurance among working-age adults was reduced by almost half among those surveyed, dropping from 13 percent in fall 2006 to 7 percent in fall 2007. At the same time, access to care improved, and the share of adults with high out-of-pocket costs and problems paying medical bills dropped." (Health Affairs)


Member Education Vital for Managing Costs and Compliance for Specialty Pharma.ceuticals
Excerpt: "With a wave of new biologic drugs expected soon to hit the market, some health plans and pharma.ceutical payers are seeking ways to ensure that members know exactly how to take these expensive therapies -- and not waste millions of dollars on unused product or avoidable emergency-room visits." (AISHealth.com)


New York Governor Proposes Legislation Aimed at Rx Drug Makers and PBMs
Excerpt: "Gov. David A. Paterson (D) this month proposed a bill limiting the value of gifts that drug makers could give to providers, and requiring PBMs to disclose specific information to health plans, physicians and patients." (AISHealth.com)


Aetna Settles Federal Class Action Seeking Health Coverage for Eating Disorders
Excerpt: "In a step toward better insurance coverage for eating disorders, Aetna has agreed to pay $250,000 in reimbursements to up to 100 New Jersey policyholders whose claims were denied and to liberalize its largesse for many future claimants." (Law.com)


Study Finds Massachusetts Gains with Mandatory Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Massachusetts reduced its proportion of uninsured adults by nearly half in the first year of mandatory health coverage and made gains in the share of people receiving routine preventive care, according to the first major study of the 2006 law." (The New York Times; free registration required)


SEC Says Companies Must Let Shareholders Vote on Health Care Proposals
Excerpt: "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has shifted its position and is telling companies they must allow shareholders to vote on a proposal for universal health insurance coverage." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Lawmakers Seek to Revive Legislation That Would Eliminate COBRA Coverage Limits
Excerpt: "Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) are pushing to revive legislation (HR 2047) proposed last year that would allow people to pay for health coverage from their former employers until they qualify for Medicare at age 65, the Chicago Sun Times reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Wall Street Journal Examines High-Risk Insurance Pools Proposed by Presumptive Republican Nominee McCain
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined a proposal from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to 'bolster the role of high-risk pools' that market health insurance to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Segal Public Sector Letter on Total Health Management (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The value of THM is not merely theoretical. Plan sponsors that have implemented a THM strategy have already seen savings." (The Segal Group, Inc.)



Sponsored by: 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.

(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] FICA Treatment of Severance Pay Clarified (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "A recent federal appeals court decision affirmed the IRS' position on the FICA treatment of severance payments, overturning a controversial lower court decision. Employers now have a clear roadmap as to how to structure severance arrangements that are exempt from FICA taxation." (Buck Consultants)


[Guidance Overview] Employee Benefits Review, May 2008 (PDF)
8 pages. The newsletter covers select compliance deadlines and developments in retirement and health and welfare plans. (Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.)


IBM Agrees to $20M Settlement of Options-Related Lawsuit
Excerpt: "IBM Corp. has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit by shareholders who claimed the technology company misled the public about employee stock-option expenses in 2005." (AP via The Washington Post; free registration required)


New Documents Illuminate Yahoo-Microsoft Takeover Saga
Excerpt: "Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Jerry Yang pushed for an employee severance program that made it more expensive for Microsoft Corp. to engineer a takeover even after an outside consultant questioned the plan's generous benefits, according to previously sealed documents in a shareholder lawsuit against Yahoo." (AP via Chicago Sun-Times)


Holding Your Third Party Administrator Accountable
Excerpt: "A good place to start is asking a TPA for their SAS 70 audit, which should highlight significant and relevant characteristics of their internal controls for ensuring an acceptable ERISA compliance plan is in place." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)


Despite Veto Threat, House Passes Extenders Bill with Pension Provisions
Excerpt: "The House on May 21, 2008 passed H.R. 6049 (the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Bill of 2008), tax extenders legislation that includes a handful of provisions affecting pensions and employee benefits." (Wolters Kluwer)


New York Governor Paterson's G.ay Marriage Edict Sparks Debate
Excerpt: "Gov. David A. Paterson's edict to state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages is still confusing to many people throughout the state two weeks after he quietly issued it. It is uncertain, for example, whether the governor's decree on state agencies will matter to private companies or nonprofit agencies that provide an array of services to the state or whether he even has the legal authority to enforce his edict." (The Buffalo News)


Employee Ownership Update for June 2, 2008
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses a district court ruling that a previously decided ESOP case could not be reopened in light of the new legal standard set out in the Supreme Court's LaRue v. DeWolff decision; final ESOP reimbursement rules from the U.S. Cost Accounting Standards Board; controversy over a New York Times article on the U.S. Sugar ESOP; and an upcoming conference. (National Center for Employee Ownership)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Advanced HSAs
Nationwide on July 10, 2008
presented by Ascensus

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Basic IRAs
Nationwide on July 10, 2008
presented by Ascensus

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: HSA Basics
Nationwide on July 17, 2008
presented by Ascensus

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: HSA Market Entry
Nationwide on July 31, 2008
presented by Ascensus

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Introduction to QRP Distributions
Nationwide on July 24, 2008
presented by Ascensus

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Retirement Distribution and Income Planning
Nationwide on July 22, 2008
presented by Ascensus

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Understanding & Processing Transfers & Rollovers
Nationwide on July 8, 2008
presented by Ascensus

Compliance Assistance Seminar For Retirement Plan Fiduciaries
in California on July 1, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Accurate Revenue Estimates Needed for Retirement Policy
ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA) Launches New Business Management Education (BME) Series
National Institute of Pension Administrators

EBRI Estimates Precise Retiree Health Savings Needs
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

Great-West Retirement Services® Announces Managed Account Program Surpasses $2 Billion
Great-West Retirement Services

Nationwide Retirement Plans Unveils Plan Sponsor Fiduciary Bill of Rights
Nationwide Financial

New NCQA Program to Evaluate Health Promotion
National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)

MassMutual Completes Acquisition of First Mercantile Trust Company
MassMutual

The Massachusetts Reforms: A One-Year Progress Report
Health Affairs

PlanSource Expands Product Set with Acquisition of Enwisens Broker Communication Suite
PlanSource

Paychex Partner Program With AICPA Reaches Milestone
Paychex



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