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June 20, 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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Be Smart by Association with the International Foundation

Smart is not a permanent state of being. What's your maintenance plan? Take advantage of the education and information available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, a nonprofit educational association, and find out why over 35,000 industry professionals like Cindy Conway rely on the Foundation to stay informed and educated. Make sure you have the most comprehensive information on health, pension and compensation issues. Be smart by association. www.ifebp.org/memberkit

[Guidance Overview] The Glenn ERISA Conflict of Interest Decision
Excerpt: "In what I am sure will be an unsatisfactory opinion for many, the Supreme Court in Metlife v. Glenn, in a very fractured (5-1-1-2) decision has basically left the Firestone discretionary review standard alone in ERISA denial of benefit claims under Section 502(a)(1)(B)." (Workplace Prof Blog)


[Guidance Overview] New Act Prohibits Genetic Discrimination (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "On May 21, President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ('GINA') into law. The new law prohibits the use of genetic information as a basis for discrimination by employers or health insurers." (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated June 18, 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] An Expert Demystifies the Proposed FMLA Regulations
Excerpt: "To answer your questions on the proposed Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations, [Hewitt's expert, Matt Morris, responds] with the most current developments." (Hewitt Associates)


[Guidance Overview] MetLife Decision Handed Down - Supreme Court Affirms the Sixth Circuit
Excerpt: "SCOTUSBLOG has announced that the Supreme Court has released the opinion in MetLife v. Glenn (06-923). The key issue before the Court in that case was whether the fact that a claim administrator of an ERISA plan also funds the plan benefits creates a 'conflict of interest' that must be weighed in a judicial review of the administrator's benefit determination." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Guidance Overview] IRS Guidance on Treatment of Qualified HSA Funding Distributions
Excerpt: "The IRS guidance reflects the rules provided in Code Sec. 408(d)(9), as added by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-432), and includes numerous examples that illustrate how these rules should be applied." (Wolters Kluwer)


[Guidance Overview] Supreme Court Rules Kentucky Disability Pension Plan Not Age Discriminatory
Excerpt: "In a case that should be of interest for employment discrimination and employee benefit scholars, Kentucky Retirement Systems v. EEOC, the Supreme Court in a close 5-4 decision has found the Kentucky public pension plan not to be age discriminatory in an usual division of the Justices." (Workplace Prof Blog)


[Guidance Overview] Male Employees Covered by the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act
Excerpt: "In a surprise development last week, a Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), Martin E. Ebel, announced that the MCAD has changed its position on the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA), and has concluded that the statute applies to both women and men." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo P.C.)


Health Insurance Coverage in America Chartbook
Excerpt: "The Health Insurance Coverage in America chartbook is divided into four sections on key subgroups of the American population: the nonelderly, children, nonelderly adults, and working adults. Some of the important social and economic determinants of health insurance coverage highlighted in the charts are examined by: Age, gender, family income, family work status, education, household type, race/ethnicity, citizenship, and health status. And specifically for the working adult population: Work status, occupation, industry, and employer size." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


House Passes Legislation That Would Institute Paid Parental Leave Policy for All Federal Employees
Excerpt: "The House voted 278-146 to pass H.R. 5781, which would provide four weeks of paid maternal or paternal leave for the birth or adoption of a child. It would, for the first time, let new parents use their accrued sick leave for an additional eight weeks of paid leave." (GovernmentExecutive.com)


CalPERS Panel Negotiates Lowest HMO Rate Increase in Decade
Excerpt: "Under the committee's recommendations, the monthly premium increases range from 3.75% for workers in Blue Shield of California's Net Value plan to 8.16% for Kaiser Permanente members in 2009. The increases also vary by region." (California HealthCare Foundation)


Supreme Court Upholds Ruling on Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Until now, employees who felt wrongly deprived of benefits could expect little help in court unless they could show that their plan administrators had behaved in an arbitrary, capricious or unprincipled way. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the majority, eased that requirement, but stopped well short of setting out specific new rules for when and how employees could challenge adverse benefits decisions." (The New York Times; free registration required)


A New Firestone Drill: MetLife v. Glenn
Excerpt: "Hopefully, the Supreme Court's MetLife decision will turn out to be a welcome clarification of the Firestone case, even if it generates some new uncertainty. Firestone left open the question of how much a conflict of interest in the administrator should affect the level of a court's deference to the administrator's decision." (Pension & Benefits Blog)


Health Care Reform has Surfaced As an Issue for U.S. Presidential Aspirants
Excerpt: "Most of the political focus . . . has been on the approximately 18% -- 46.5 million, according to statistics from the Census Bureau -- that do not currently have health insurance. That number includes some 9 million under the age of 18 -- and, doubtless with some overlap, roughly 10 million non-U.S. citizens." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


NEJM Perspective Examines Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
Excerpt: " 'Keeping Pace With the Times -- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008,' New England Journal of Medicine: In the NEJM perspective, [the authors] discuss the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which was signed into law last month. The authors write that while 'safeguarding genetic information from misuse by health insurers and employers is a key prerequisite to more individualized approaches to medicine, many other critical challenges remain.'" (Kaiser Family Foundation)


New AMA Guidelines on Medical Tourism (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "The AMA advocates that employers, insurance companies, and other entities that facilitate or incentivize medical care outside the U.S. adhere to the following principles . . . ." (American Medical Association)


AMA Approves Medical Tourism Guidelines for Travelers and Employers
Excerpt: "The American Medical Association this week approved guidelines for U.S. residents who travel abroad to receive medical care and for employers who are considering covering overseas care, the Chicago Tribune reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Court Clarifies Standards for Denial of Disability Benefits
Excerpt: "Judges must approach medical disability and health insurance disputes with a skeptical eye when they involve insurance companies that both evaluate and pay employee claims. In a 6 to 3 decision announced Thursday, the US Supreme Court ruled that benefit denials by such companies must be examined with caution when circumstances suggest a high likelihood that financial considerations affected a benefits decision." (The Christian Science Monitor)


[Opinion] The Uninsurables
Excerpt: "While much of the health care reform debate centers on the 47 million uninsured Americans, there is an equally important subgroup that must be part or the solution - the uninsurable - i.e., those who have been denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition, or whose condition results in premiums much higher than the standard." (The Washington Times via Council for Affordable Health Insurance)


[Opinion] Commentators' Reactions to the MetLife Decision
Excerpt: "This post will be updated to include commentary on the decision in Metlife v. Glenn." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Opinion] The Supreme Court's Ruling in MetLife v. Glenn
Excerpt: "For the most part, the Court pretty much did exactly what I said it would after the oral argument: decide that structural conflicts must be taken into account in passing on an administrator's decision, even under a deferential standard of review, without making any sort of significant change to the general rubric for passing on an administrator's determination in such circumstances." (Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm, LLC)



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] Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act (PDF)
2 pages. (Milliman)


[Guidance Overview] A Revenue Raiser Used to Offset Federal Revenue Losses Created by Heroes Act Includes Stiff Penalties on 'Covered Expatriates'
Excerpt: "Upon expatriation, the Heroes Act requires the covered expatriate to recognize income tax as if the individual had sold all of his or property, to the extent it exceeds $600,000 (indexed), on the day before expatriation. Interestingly, 'eligible deferred compensation items' that are payable to a covered expatriate by a U.S. employer generally would not be subject to immediate taxation, if the expatriate notifies the employer/payor of his or her status as a covered expatriate." (Michael S. Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated June 18, 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)


Pensions for Executives Reach New Heights
Excerpt: "(These packages are generally composed of non-qualified, formula-based benefit plans, such as a supplemental executive retirement plan, or SERP, disclosed in the pension benefits section of a proxy, and do not include deferred compensation plans, noted Equilar senior researcher Alexander Cwirko-Godycki.)" (Financial Week; free registration required)


Reassessing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Excerpt: "This AARP Public Policy Institute report by David Neumark of the University of California at Irvine reviews the existing research on age discrimination in employment and assesses how successful the ADEA has been in achieving its goals, along with how well it might support the continued employment of older adults in the future." (AARP)


Supreme Court Eases Age Bias Suits for Workers
Excerpt: "The age-bias ruling, written by Justice David H. Souter, acknowledged that 'there is no denying that putting employers to the work of persuading fact-finders that their choices are reasonable makes it harder and costlier to defend' age-bias accusations and that the ruling 'will sometimes affect the way employers do business with their employees.'" (The New York Times; free registration required)


A Supreme Court Victory for Older Workers
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court ruled for older workers Thursday in a closely watched age discrimination case, placing on employers the burden of proving that a layoff or other action that hurts older workers more than others was based not on age but on some other 'reasonable factor.'" (The New York Times; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Benefit Disputes after MetLife v. Glenn: What's the Standard of Review?
Nationwide on July 10, 2008
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Regulatory, Interpretative and Amicus Update - Compliance Assistance Seminar
Nationwide on June 25, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U.S. Labor Department Secures 401(k) Plan Assets for Merchants Publishing Co. Employees in Kalamazoo, Mich.
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Labor Department Extends Annual Reports Deadline After Severe Weather Hits Missouri and Iowa
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Labor Department Extends Annual Reports Deadline After Severe Weather Hits Indiana and Wisconsin
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Labor Department Extends Annual Reports Deadline After Severe Weather Hits Georgia and Mississippi
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Labor Department Extends Annual Reports Deadline After Severe Weather Hits Arkansas and Oklahoma
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U. S. Labor Department Extends Annual Reports Deadline After Severe Weather Hits Maine
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U. S. Labor Department Extends Annual Reports Deadline After Severe Weather Hits Colorado
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

New Research Confirms Majority-Owned ESOPs More Productive Than Non-ESOP Counterparts
Employee Ownership Foundation



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