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July 22, 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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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] New Rhode Island Law Grants Military Family Members Unpaid Leave
Excerpt: "On June 23, 2008, Governor Donald Carcieri signed into law the Family Military Leave Act (the 'Act'), Rhode Island General Laws sections 30-33-1 to 30-33-6. The Act, effective when signed, offers a new right to unpaid leave for the family of servicemembers. Under the new law, spouses and parents of persons called into military service must be allowed time off and restored to an equivalent position at the conclusion of their leave." (Littler Mendelson P.C.)


[Guidance Overview] Employers Should Prepare for GINA Effects
Excerpt: "Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), employers will need to learn new ways of dealing with information, just as they did when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed . . . ." (Wolters Kluwer)


Health Officials Back the Move Away from Handwritten Doctors' Prescriptions
Excerpt: "The widespread adoption of electronic prescribing is expected to save taxpayers as much as $156 million over the next five years and save lives, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said Monday." (AP via Chicago Tribune)


Post-Retirement Health Benefits Cut for Future St. Petersburg, FL, Public Sector Employees
Excerpt: "St. Petersburg is cutting benefits for the next generation of police officers, firefighters and paramedics. In labor negotiations, it's called a 'giveback' -- and a lot of public sector workers will be giving back benefits in the years ahead.' (Fox Television Stations, Inc.)


A Smart Rx for Employee Health - An On-Site No-Frills Clinic
Excerpt: "[The] numbers show why. By focusing on preventive care and aggressively managing chronic medical conditions, [health-care costs have been sharply cut]. It is cheaper to manage an employee's diabetes than pay to put her in a hospital for a week to treat infections." (Orlando Sentinel)


House Panel OKs Heath Coverage Extension for Ill College Students
Excerpt: "The measure, H.R. 2851, approved on a 40-0 vote, would allow college students to retain coverage for up to 12 months after they take a leave of absence. Coverage would continue on the same basis as prior to the student going on leave." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Common Misconceptions About Self-Funding Health Plans
Excerpt: "With a fully-insured plan, employers know what they must pay over a specified time period. With self-insurance, claims and costs go up and down from year to year, which can make budgeting difficult. A self-insured employer therefore must have the financial resources, or cash flow, to meet its obligations." (Employee Benefit Advisor; free registration required)


[Opinion] Response to The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn Article on Health Care Policy
Excerpt: "The real debate over health care reform today centers over one fundamental choice. Are we going to continue to try to finance health care through private plans competing in the marketplace, a guarantee that access and equity problems would only grow worse, or are we going to use our own government resources to fix our financing system so that it works for everyone?" (Physicians for a National Health Program)


[Opinion] On the Presidential Candidates & Single-Payer in the 2008 Elections
Excerpt: "I believe the biggest impediment to our work over the last decade has not been the lack of a good program, because we know what a good single-payer program would look like. We have H.R. 676. We can look to Can.ada and places in northwestern Europe. So we have good models and we have a good program. The problem is the lack of hope - the lack of a sense of possibility. People hate the health insurance system and they know things need to change. But people don't believe things can change." (Dr. Steffie Woolhandler via Physicians for a National Health Program)



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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Official Guidance] Proposed GASB Technical Bulletin: Determining the Annual Required Contribution Adjustment for Postemployment Benefits (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "This Technical Bulletin clarifies the requirements of Statements 27 and 45 for calculating the annual required contribution (ARC) adjustment. Specifically, this Technical Bulletin applies to situations in which the ARC includes a known amount related to the amortization of past employer contribution deficiencies or excess contributions to a pension or other postemployment benefit (OPEB) plan." (Governmental Accounting Standards Board)


[Guidance Overview] Eligible Transactions and Corrections Under IRS Notice 2007-100 (PDF)
12 pages. The listing also includes examples and relief available. (Prudential Retirement)


[Guidance Overview] Glossary of Special Terms Related to Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans (PDF)
1 page. (Prudential Retirement)


[Guidance Overview] IRS's Correction Procedures for Certain Operational Failures by Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "These correction procedures are available to plan sponsors of and participants in nonqualified defined benefit or defined contribution plans that provide for the deferral of compensation (section 409A plans), including section 457(f) plans." (Prudential Retirement)


Employee-Assistance Providers Are Seeing a Spike from Callers in Financial and Legal Distress
Excerpt: "The financial distress felt by some employees is also showing up in reduced employee morale and performance, according to experts." (Human Resource Executive Online)


European Court Says Employers Must Accommodate Caregivers
Excerpt: "A landmark European ruling effectively gives new rights to employees who are caregivers to sick, disabled, and elderly relatives. The Yorkshire Post reports that the European Court of Justice has declared that a directive banning discrimination in the workplace on grounds of disability not only applies to disabled people but also their caregivers. The ruling could result in a huge extension in flexible and part-time working arrangements, the news report said." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


GASB Issues Proposal on Required Contributions for OPEBs
Excerpt: "The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has issued for comment a proposed Technical Bulletin, 'Determining the Annual Required Contribution for Postemployment Benefits.' According to a GASB announcement, the document will clarify that the use of actual known amounts for purposes of calculating the annual required contribution (ARC) adjustment relating to pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) is consistent with the intent of existing standards." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Mercer's Global Retirement Perspective: Benefits in a Time of Recession
Excerpt: "Pensions are now very much on organizations' core-business agendas and fiduciaries and management committees need to get up to speed. 'This is the way benefits management has always been done' is no longer a valid excuse for poor practices. The way ahead is clear: Align your benefit plan's governance framework with that of the sponsoring company and aspire to world-class governance. From this vantage point, look at the overall impact of benefit plans on corporate finance, employee motivation and talent management." (Mercer LLC)




Newly Posted Press Releases
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IFLC Endorses Recordkeeper Certification Program
Investment Fiduciary Leadership Council (IFLC)



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