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July 8, 2008

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


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[Guidance Overview] HSA Guidance Under IRS Notice 2008-59 (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "The last Question in Notice 2008-59 confirms that HSA administration and maintenance fees withdrawn by the trustee from an HSA are not considered distributions, but are reported on IRS Form 5498-A. (Q/A 42)." (Benoit Diaz LLC)


[Guidance Overview] New Proposed Regulations for Cafeteria Plans Become Effective January 1, 2009
Excerpt: "It is not necessary to restate an existing cafeteria plan document if the plan has been kept up-to-date with current laws and regulations. However, plans established prior to 2000 which have not been amended should be restated." (Swerdlin & Company)


[Guidance Overview] Group Health Plans and the New Genetic Nondiscrimination Law (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "Plan Sponsors should: Review plan documents to ensure that genetic information cannot determine participant eligibility, contributions, premiums, or benefits. Review insurance contracts to ensure that genetic information cannot determine group rates or group coverage. Contact your health and welfare benefits counsel as to how GINA applies to your plans and how to address any potential noncompliance issues before GINA becomes effective." (Holme Roberts & Owen LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Court Holds Contractual Language Does Not Bar Plaintiff's Disability Claims
Excerpt: "ERISA does not contain a specific statute of limitations for benefits claims. (This is rather odd given the frequent conception of the statute by the federal judiciary as a 'comprehensive and reticulated' regulatory scheme.) In any event, when Congress omits a statute of limitations for a federal cause of action, courts 'borrow' the local time limitation most analogous to the case at hand." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Guidance Overview] CMS Issues Updated Disclosure Notices to Medicare Part D Eligible Individuals for Use After June 15, 2008
Excerpt: "The changes should make the model notices more accessible and easier for individuals to understand. Employers using the model disclosure notices will need to replace them with the updated versions. Those using customized versions of the notices should look at the updated model notices to see if any of the changes should be incorporated." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


New Health Savings Accounts Proposed
Excerpt: "A bill was introduced last month that would create two separate savings accounts intended to help people pay for health care costs in retirement." (Investment News; free registration required)


Maryland Offers Small Employers a Subsidy for Health Plan Premiums
Excerpt: "Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) unveiled on June 23 the Maryland Health Insurance Partnership, a health insurance premium subsidy program to help small businesses purchase coverage. Under the program, small businesses will apply for the subsidies through the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC)." (AISHealth.com)


On Intoxication and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Policies
Excerpt: "There are a few things of interest about the [First Circuit opinion on Stamp v. MetLife] that warrant further reading. In the first instance, the case lays out the proper manner by which a court should consider an administrator's review of this particular type of scenario, and what type of discretion is granted to that review." (Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm, LLC)


[Opinion] Dealing with the Original Sin Driving Health Costs (PDF)
Excerpt: "In budget policy, myths are progress's number one enemy. One silly fiction now making the rounds is that we don't know how to judge the relative value of different types of health care, so we can't control health care costs -- at least not for now. Like many myths, this one contains an element of truth -- there is a lot we don't know. So what? It's still a myth that we know too little to act." (C. Eugene Steuerle via Urban Institute)


[Opinion] The Delay in Major Changes in Health Care Policy
Excerpt: "HR leaders have a lot of issues on their plates as the economy becomes ever more unpredictable. The election outcome in November could bring major health-policy change, or more years of gridlock. And major change could present employers with major employee-relations issues if they implement substantial required health-plan changes." (Human Resource Executive Online)


[Opinion] National Coalition on Benefits Writes in Opposition to Core Provisions of Healthy Americans Act, S. 334 (as Amended) (PDF)
Excerpt: "We believe that S. 334 would have a major adverse impact on employer-sponsored health coverage." (The National Coalition on Benefits via American Benefits Council)



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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] New York State Issues Guidelines Interpreting 'Blood Donation Leave' and 'Rights of Nursing Mothers' Legislation
Excerpt: "The New York Commissioner of Labor has recently issued guidelines for the implementation of two new provisions of the New York Labor Law. These guidelines deal with: (1) the provision of blood donation leave to employees; and (2) the right of nursing mothers to express breast milk at their place of employment. The guidelines address many of the concerns facing employers under these new laws, and provide several benchmarks for compliance." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)


Benefits Attorney Donald R. Levy Dies
Excerpt: "He served as Vice President and Employee Benefit Consultant to Johnson & Higgins as Vice President-Human Resources and Director of Employee Benefits at UST (United States Tobacco Company), as Senior Consultant with William M. Mercer, Inc. His publishing activity developed in post retirement, after a few years with Prentice Hall and RIA. He continued with his own publishing business and authored many books, including the Pension Handbook. He taught at the University of Connecticut, served as a panelist for the Practicing Law Institute, and lectured before various professional groups." (The [Stamford CT] Advocate)


Fuel Prices Drive Tough Adjustments As Public, Private Sectors Eye Shorter Workweeks, Telecommuting, to Cut Costs
Excerpt: "[The symbolic gesture by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm--pedaling a bike] a couple of days a week to the state Capitol in Lansing--is part of an evolving behavior shift by individuals, employers and governments struggling to adjust to the hard reality of gas at more than $4 a gallon, as well as higher energy costs overall." (Chicago Tribune via AARP)


American Academy of Actuaries Posts an 'Election 2008' Section
Excerpt: "A special election-year series from the Academy, offering short summaries of key issues from an actuarial perspective. [Key issues: Health care reform and Medicare reform; Social Security reform.]" (American Academy of Actuaries)


New Jersey Public Employee Benefits Battle May Get Bigger
Excerpt: "Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney, an ironworkers union official, led the push for reform [two years ago]. But intense opposition from the powerful public unions including a Statehouse protest by thousands of workers halted the effort. In recent weeks, however, lawmakers led by Sweeney and Senate Budget Chairwoman Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, managed to push through legislation to scale back future compensation for teachers and public employees, though milder than the 2006 proposals and less comprehensive than the changes they initially set out to make this year." (NJ.com)


McCain Says He Would Balance Budget by 2013
Excerpt: "In the economic white paper his campaign released yesterday, he acknowledges that 'the only way to keep the budget balanced is successful reform of the large spending pressures in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.' But he did not offer details about how he would achieve those reforms." (The Washington Post; free registration required)


Informal Views of IRS and Treasury Officials on Automatic Contribution Arrangements, Determination Letters, and Other Issues
Excerpt: "The Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB) of the American Bar Association has posted a report on the May 2008 Q&A session between JCEB representatives and IRS and Treasury officials. Highlights include the following informal, nonbinding remarks about automatic contribution arrangements (ACAs), late determination letter filings, and the definition of compensation under Code Section 415(c)." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Automatic Deferrals and Default Investments: The Latest on ACAs, EACAs, QACAs and QDIAs
Nationwide on June 12, 2008
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA)/Thomson Tax & Accounting

61st Annual National Conference and Exhibition
in Tennessee on September 16, 2008
presented by Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA)

Are you ready for EGTRRA restatements?
Nationwide on July 9, 2008
presented by ftwilliam.com

ERISA's Abuse of Discretion Standard after MetLife v. Glenn: What's Changing, What's Not - Webcast
Nationwide on July 11, 2008
presented by West LegalEdcenter

How To Manage Smoker Healthcare Costs Legally And Effectively
Nationwide on July 23, 2008
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com

Learn how to use ftwilliam.com's plan document software
Nationwide on July 10, 2008
presented by ftwilliam.com



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

NIPA Announces Online Examinations and New Partnership with KRYTERION
National Institute of Pension Administrators

2009 NIPA Annual Forum & Expo Call for Speakers and Presentations
National Institute of Pension Administrators

Former CEO Of Airtrans Sentenced To 15 Months In Prison For Theft Of 401(k) Funds
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Treasury Will Consult on Baseline Survey of Adult Financial Literacy
U.S. Department of Treasury

Alliance Benefit Group Carolinas Closes on Acquisition of Elliott Davis Affiliate
Alliance Benefit Group Carolinas, LLC

Announcing the Availability of SmartPlan 401, the World's First Interactive Video 401(k) Engagement Engine
vWise Inc.



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