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June 13, 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.

[Official Guidance] Proposed IRS Regs: Qualified Nonpersonal Use Vehicles for Public Safety Officer Vehicles (PDF)
15 pages. Excerpt: "Qualified nonpersonal use vehicles are excepted from the substantiation requirements of section 274(d)(4) that apply to listed property as defined in section 280F(d)(4). These proposed regulations would add clearly marked public safety officer vehicles as a new type of qualified nonpersonal use vehicles. These proposed regulations would affect employers that provide their employees with qualified nonpersonal use vehicles and the employees who use such vehicles." (Internal Revenue Service)


[Guidance Overview] The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (PDF)
Excerpt: "As noted in [this bulletin], sponsors of group health plans will not know GINA's full implications until regulations are issued (final regulations must be issued by May 2009). However, amendments to the HIPAA Privacy Rule must be issued within 60 days, and those amendments might require more immediate attention from plan sponsors." (The Segal Group, Inc.)


[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated June 11, 2008, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
10 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans. (Hewitt Associates)


[Guidance Overview] Fourth Circuit Rejects Argument That Plan Implicitly Conferred Discretionary Authority
Excerpt: "'Woods' presents a typical disability case set of facts, but the decision illuminates the all-important issue of what language suffices to vest discretion in the plan administrator. This language of grant has the consequence, of course, of stipulating the standard of review of claims denials should a federal district court be asked to review the claims denial. Of the eve of a decision in MetLife v. Glenn, this case serves as one of the most propitious points of departure one might imagine." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Guidance Overview] Paid Sick Leave in the Nation's Capital (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Washington, D.C. is poised to join San Francisco and New Jersey in requiring employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to employees, but an internal inconsistency in the new D.C. law may make implementation by employers difficult." (Groom Law Group)


[Guidance Overview] Despite Remand to Carrier, Court Awards Attorney's Fees
Excerpt: "The plaintiff, Kathleen Hoskins, filed suit under ERISA against MetLife. She contended that MetLife had wrongly denied her benefits and withheld certain documents. The federal district court in Arizona denied MetLife's summary judgment motion on the merits, remanded the claim back to MetLife for further review, and assessed statutory penalties against MetLife's for its failure to provide the documents. Hoskins then sought an award of attorney's fees and costs under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1)." (ERISA on the Web)


[Guidance Overview] Defendants Required to File Complete ERISA Record
Excerpt: "In Kirsch v. Jefferson Pilot Financial Ins. Co., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43876 (D. Wis. Jun. 3, 2008), the ERISA defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff's claims for long-term disability benefits had been appropriately denied. In support, the defendants filed only portions of the ERISA record. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that the failure to file the complete ERISA record precluded summary judgment." (ERISA on the Web)


[Guidance Overview] Court Refuses to Dismiss Complaint After Removal to Federal Court Under ERISA
Excerpt: "The plaintiff filed a complaint in Georgia state court after Reliance Standard denied his long-term disability claim. In addition to compensatory damages for breach of contract, the plaintiff sought damages for statutory bad faith. Reliance Standard filed a notice to remove the case to federal court, arguing that the claim fell exclusively within the purview of ERISA. Reliance Standard moved to dismiss, arguing that ERISA preempted the state-law claims." (ERISA on the Web)


Downsizing Maternity Leave: Employers Cut Pay, Time Off
Excerpt: "Employers are cutting back on post-childbirth pay for mothers and offering shorter leaves, on average, for both moms and dads, compared with a decade ago." (The Wall Street Journal)


Health and Wellness Programs: A Long-Term Perspective
Excerpt: "As health care costs continue to escalate, more and more employers are turning to health improvement programs in search of lasting solutions. As the short-term benefits of health improvement programs become more widely accepted, it is also important to consider the likely long-term impact of these programs. In this article, we look at health improvement programs through a long-term perspective." (JPMorgan Chase & Co.)


State Consumer Protections in the Individual Health Insurance Market
Excerpt: "In order to understand what Americans face when they purchase health insurance in the individual market, Families USA surveyed all state insurance departments and compiled information on the laws that each state has in place to protect consumers . . . . We found that protections vary greatly across the country, and in many states, because of a lack of consumer protections, insurance companies can deny people coverage, raise premiums significantly, refuse to cover treatment for certain conditions, and even revoke the coverage of policyholders who have been paying premiums for years." (Families USA)


Senate Committee Hearing - 47 Million & Counting: Why the Health Care Marketplace is Broken
Held June 10, 2008, in 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building; member and witness statements are linked. (U.S. Senate Committee on Finance)


Health Benefit Costs in Private Industry, March 2008
Excerpt: "The average cost for health insurance benefits was $1.92 per hour worked in private industry (accounting for 7.2 percent of average total compensation of $28.46) in March 2008." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


A New Report Says Consumer Protections Are Lacking in Florida Health Plans
Excerpt: "Like most other states, Florida offers few basic protections for consumers purchasing health insurance, according to a national report released Thursday. The report, sponsored by Families USA, a Washington consumer group, found that strong lobbying efforts by the insurance industry have left 'consumers with a patchwork of protections that are inadequate as a whole and that vary greatly from state to state.'" (The Miami Herald)


Huge Victory in Virginia for Long-Term Disability Claimants
Excerpt: "Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a major blow to Prudential Insurance Company of America in an ERISA group long-term disability case involving a claim for benefits. The big issue in these all of these ERISA disability cases is whether a federal judge can look at a claim denial 'all over again' or whether he has to grant deference to the insurance company administrator denying the claim." (InjuryBoard.com)


Safeway Launches Generic Prescription Drug Discount Program in Eastern U.S.
Excerpt: "Safeway on Wednesday launched a generic prescription drug discount program at stores in the eastern U.S. and the Chicago area, according to company spokesperson Greg TenEyck, the Washington Post reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


[Opinion] Is There a Disease Management Backlash? (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "More research is needed to provide a conclusive answer to the question of whether or not population-based disease management can improve quality of care and, if so, which interventions have which effects under which conditions." (The American Journal of Managed Care)



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

[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated June 11, 2008, on Human Resources & Employment Law (PDF)
10 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)


[Guidance Overview] Rule 10b5-1 Plan Creating Litigation - In Re Countrywide Financial Corp. Derivative Litigation
Excerpt: "A Rule 10b5-1 plan, when correctly designed and adopted, gives executives a safe and effective way of buying or selling their companies' securities free of insider trading concerns. However, the Countrywide case underscores the importance of proceeding with caution when adopting, modifying, or terminating a Rule 10b5-1 plan." (Michael S. Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)


Law Firms Offering College 'Coaching' as a Benefit
Excerpt: "Law firms credit family-friendly benefits like day care with drawing the best and the brightest to their firms, and now they're offering college-admissions consulting to help lawyers and staff navigate their children's college placement process." (The National Law Journal via LawJobs.com)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

409A Compliance and Deferred Compensation
in New Jersey on June 18, 2008
presented by New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education



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