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June 11, 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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Trimming the Benefits Tab Without Cutting the Value

If you’re like most employers, you struggle with how to contain the cost of your health care programs without diminishing their value to employees. There are many remedies to consider, but you do you know what’s best for your organization? Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers, September 7–10, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, is the perfect place to find out if you have the right "dosage" for your benefit plans.

[Guidance Overview] Court Rejects Imputation of Counsel's Knowledge to Plaintiff Class in ERISA Fiduciary Action
Excerpt: "Aside from demonstrating once again the hazards of multiple employer pooling arrangements to provide health care benefits, this case provides an excellent overview of the operation of the ERISA statute of limitation provisions, replete with examples of common exceptions to those rules." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Many People Base Life Choices on Ability to Retain, Obtain Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Anxiety over becoming uninsured or paying higher premiums is causing some people -- 'especially those with health problems' -- to go to 'great lengths to get or keep job-based health coverage,' the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Galveston County, Texas, Health Care Plan Splits Costs 3 Ways
Excerpt: "A first-of-its-kind health benefits sharing plan with the University of Texas Medical Branch has already enrolled 14 small businesses. Many more are expected to enroll by this fall, bringing coverage to a total capped at 500 employees. Small-business owners are urged to join up now in a pilot program so innovative that cities across the state are rushing to follow suit." (The Galveston County Daily News)

Aetna Proposes Health Insurance Reform That Would Preserve Employment-Based System
Excerpt: "Reform is needed to fix the crisis of the uninsured, but it requires a joint effort of government and the private sector and should preserve the nation's employer-based health insurance system, Aetna Chief Executive Ronald A. Williams told a congressional panel Tuesday." (The Hartford Courant)

Unions Sue Over Vioxx Settlement
Excerpt: "The unions claim the Nov. 2007 settlement of the liability class action suit, in which Merck was held harmless, failed to provide money for reimbursements to lien rights of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) health plans." (

The Intersection of Physical and Behavioral Health - Proceedings of the 2007 Medical Director Colloquy (PDF)
30 pages. Excerpt: "The 2007 Medical Director Colloquy focused on the interrelationship of physical and behavioral health. Keynote Speaker David A. Shore, PhD, associate dean and founding director of the Forces of Change Program and the Harvard School of Public Health Trust Initiative, challenged the audience with compelling data that show the erosion of trust in virtually all facets of our health care system -- the key causes, profound consequences, and potential cures. Shore's sobering presentation led to lively debate and discussion.'The Intersection of (Managed Care Magazine)

How to Restrain Health Costs Without Damping Worker Satisfaction
Excerpt: "Handled carefully . . . the process of changing health plans can help employees feel valued and part of a joint effort to keep costs under control. 'Despite rising costs, you can ensure that your most costly benefits remain an effective tool for attracting and retaining the best employees without exhausting all of your compensation dollars,' write Steven Draper and Ron Cornwell, health care experts with the benefits firm Milliman." (The Kiplinger Washington Editors)

Snooping Into Health Records Often Unnoticed
Excerpt: "Snooping into celebrity health records by workers at UCLA Medical Center sheds light on a largely hidden ailment facing employers: their own people peeking at confidential data." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

Employer-Sponsored Retiree Medical Plans Coming Up Short
Excerpt: "According to new information from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a male retiree with health insurance benefits subsidized by a former employer will need at least another $122,000 to have a 90 percent chance at covering all medical costs." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

Highlights of Recent News About Small-Business Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Summaries of recent news about two efforts to contain health care costs for small businesses and their employees . . . ." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Many People Base Life Choices on Ability to Retain, Obtain Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Anxiety over becoming uninsured or paying higher premiums is causing some people -- 'especially those with health problems' -- to go to 'great lengths to get or keep job-based health coverage,' the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

The Politico Examines Prospects for U.S. Health Care System Overhaul
Excerpt: "The Politico on Tuesday examined how 'the skyrocketing cost of health care is putting everyone in a much more chatty and cooperative mood' about overhauling the U.S. health care system. According to The Politico, different stakeholders in the past 'have opposed policy proposals that weren't ideal, instead choosing to do nothing.' However, the 'status quo is a policy choice in itself that has major consequences . . . ." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Opinion] Perspectives on State Health Reform
Excerpt: "Drawing on recent Foundation state surveys and analysis of state actions on Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program through recent economic cycles, the essay highlights the difficulty of achieving national health reform state by state, but concludes that 'a small number of pacesetting states can serve as laboratories for national health reform.'" (Drew Altman via Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Opinion] Comparing John McCain's Health Care Plan to Barack Obama's Plan
Excerpt: "As voters, you have a huge and critically important choice on health care. There are dozens of details upon which they differ and for those I would point you to my comprehensive posts on the McCain Health Care Plan and the Obama Health Care Plan. But to understand their big idea differences, I would point you to our pension system to better understand where McCain and Obama are going on health care." (

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] California's New Hands-Free Cell Phone Law Affects Employers (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "Beginning July 1, 2008, California drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Employers who have employees driving on company business -- which is nearly every company -- will need to make some changes. This is a brief summary on the new 'rules of the road' for a typical employer." (Snell & Wilmer LLP)

[Guidance Overview] General Partner Clawback Provisions in Private Equity Agreements (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Most limited partnership agreements for private equity funds have two separate clawback components: The limited partner clawback and the general partner clawback. This Investor Alert discusses the general partner clawback." (Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.)

Periodic Audits of ERISA Plans and Employment Policies and Practices Can Prevent Costly Mistakes
Excerpt: "Self-Audits are reviews that companies usually undertake with the assistance of benefits counsel to identify legal compliance gaps in their plans, policies and/or operational procedures. The audit focuses on areas that could place the company at risk for governmental fines and penalties, as well as expose the company to an increased risk of lawsuits. These audits can be done for either or both a company's employment practices and employee benefits plans." (Aiken and Aiken)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Executive Compensation: Strategy, Design, and Implementation
in New York on June 19, 2008
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Executive Compensation: Strategy, Design, and Implementation - Webcast
Nationwide on June 19, 2008
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Workscape and ConnectYourCare Forge Alliance to Create Integrated Consumer-Directed Healthcare Benefits Platform for Large Employers

Warranty Group Picks New York Life Retirement Plan Services
New York Life Investment Management

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