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August 1, 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] Rhode Island Military Family Relief Act Imposes New Leave Requirements on Large and Small Employers (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "[E]mployers who previously believed they were not required to comply with federal and state family leave laws because they have fewer than fifty (50) employees, may need to update or develop leave policies based on the Act's provisions. In addition, larger employers will need to review and update their leave policies to ensure their existing policies comply with the Act." (Nixon Peabody LLP)


Op-Eds Discuss Methods for Overhauling U.S. Health Care System
Excerpt: "Summaries appear [on the target page] of opinion pieces [in USA TODAY and The Washington Times] by two lawmakers discussing ways of improving the national health care system." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Audio: Is Switzerland a Health Care Model for America?
Excerpt: "As Republicans would prefer, individuals -- not employers or the government -- choose from a broad array of health plans, sold by private insurance companies. And as Democrats urge, everyone in Switzerland has health coverage (it's required by law), with the government providing generous subsidies for those who couldn't otherwise afford it." (All Things Considered via National Public Radio)


Incentives to Switch from Prescription to Over-the-Counter Drugs Can Produce Large Savings for Members and Plans Alike
Excerpt: "WellPoint NextRx and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) recently ended a year-long pilot program that offered OTC allergy drugs at no charge to members. Other health plans and PBMs say they too are eyeing programs that can move members to lower-cost OTC drugs when appropriate." (AISHealth.com)


Health Plans Support Push from Employers for Early Alcohol Screening and Intervention
Excerpt: "Brief intervention in primary care and other settings typically consists of an initial counseling session lasting five to 20 minutes and one or more follow-up sessions. Studies show that a few sessions with a [primary care physician] or nurse can persuade people who are less dependent to cut down on their drinking and, in some cases, stop drinking altogether." (AISHealth.com)


Massachusetts Employers Spared Higher Health Assessments
Excerpt: "Legislation nearing final approval by Massachusetts lawmakers imposes new assessments on insurers and hospitals to help fund part of the state's health care reform law, but it spares employers -- at least for now -- from making bigger contributions." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Senate Democrats Unable to End Filibuster on ERISA Amendments Regarding Mental Health Parity
Excerpt: "Falling nine votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a Republican-backed filibuster on July 30, the Senate was unable to advance a House and Senate compromise over mental health parity language which was attached to pending energy and tax legislation (S. 3335)." (The Recovering Life)


Self-Funding of Health Plans: One More Thing That Should Keep Risk Managers Up at Night
Excerpt: "Don't be fooled by the absence of the word 'insurance' in 'self-funding.' And don't be fooled by the role of the federal government and federal statutes in the regulation of self-funded benefits plans. Insurance is the very foundation of these plans." (Risk & Insurance via Mondaq; one-time registration required)


California Bill Would Require Paid Sick Days for Most
Excerpt: "[The] bill - AB2716 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco - was modeled on the paid sick leave law that took effect last year in San Francisco. The bill passed the state Assembly in May and is scheduled for a hearing next week in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Business groups led by the California Chamber of Commerce oppose the sick leave bill, saying it is a complicated and costly mandate that could force companies to cut wages or lay off workers." (San Francisco Chronicle)


[Opinion] Health Care in Singapore
Excerpt: "It's always worth exploring how health care works in other countries, if for no other reason than that models in other countries give us the chance to see how some of the approaches discussed by American reformers might pan out. . . . It's hard to imagine a country that could provide a more valuable example than Singapore. The Southeast Asian city-state is widely regarded as a health care superstar, especially when compared to the United States." (The Century Foundation)


[Opinion] Obama Health Plan Outperforms McCain Plan in Coverage and Efficiency
Excerpt: "The Obama plan's large net increase in coverage is the result of small increases in employer-sponsored and public insurance, and large enrollment (almost 30 million) in the new national insurance pool. This pool would offer insurance at 'community-rated' prices, that is, prices that do not discriminate based on health status. This large pool would have substantial administrative and marketing cost-savings relative to the existing non-group market, creating potential savings not just for those judged to be bad risks by insurance companies, but for all purchasers who do not currently have access to employer or public programs." (The Economic Policy Institute)



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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] Proposed Regulations for Employee Stock Purchase Plans
Excerpt: "As stated in the notice that sets forth the new rule, which was published in the Federal Register on July 29, the IRS's objective in issuing the proposed regulations was to provide a comprehensive set of rules governing section 423 options. Toward that end, the proposed regulations amend the existing section 423 regulations in three main respects. They update the regulations for statutory changes and conform them, where appropriate, to the section 422 regulations governing ISOs. They also clarify the requirements for employee stock purchase plans, and they remove obsolete rules." (Faegre & Benson LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Post LaRue 11th Circuit Published Case
Excerpt: "Here is an important decision just issued by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The case is Lanfear, et. al. v. Home Depot, Inc., et. al. The case involves the issue decided by LaRue although, strangely, the case does not cite LaRue." (ERISABoard.com)


Options Losing Luster as Long-Term Incentive Tool
Excerpt: "A new survey by an Alpharetta, Georgia research firm finds that stock options are gradually losing their status as the most common form of equity-based compensation." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Work Schedules in the National Compensation Survey
Excerpt: "The work schedule is intended to reflect the hours of work performed in a particular job. In most cases, the actual schedule can be collected. There are times, however, when actual data are not available for a job. In those cases, the NCS attempts to collect the employer's best estimate of the work schedule. If the employer is unable or unwilling to make an estimate, the work schedule used is that of other similarly situated employees in the establishment, if available; if such a work schedule is not available, the job is not included in the calculation of NCS estimates." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Should You Take That Buyout?
Excerpt: "Buyouts can vary. 'Two weeks for every year is as bad as [it's] going to get,' says Bennett. 'That's what someone at the lowest level of [the] company will get. A fair severance for someone on the director or vice-president level is anywhere from six months' to a year's salary.' Absent a lucrative, pre-existing 'golden parachute' agreement, one month's pay for each year of service is about what an executive should be paid, says Avery E. Neumark, a certified public accountant at Rosen, Seymour, Shapss, Martin and Co." (Forbes.com)


Employee Ownership Update for July 31, 2008
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses a PLR allowing floor price agreements for S corporation ESOPs; proposed ESPP and incentive stock option regulations; a new FASB staff position on dividends or dividend equivalents in share plans; an NCEO partnership with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City; and the Ownership Thinking Conference. (National Center for Employee Ownership)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Cash Balance 101 Podcast
Nationwide on August 4, 2008
presented by Kravitz

ERISA Audits: What We All Knew But Forgot
Nationwide on August 13, 2008
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com

Personal Health Records: Implications for Employers and Employees Webcast
Nationwide on August 7, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Retiring Boomers Prompt Increased Employer Interest in Phased Retirement Programs, According to Hewitt Survey
Hewitt Associates LLC

U.S. Labor Department Seeks To Recover Employee Contributions For Participants Of Austin, Texas 401(k) Plans
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

The Online 401k Adds 16 New Financial Advisor Partners
The Online 401(k)

Ohio Roundtable's Statement on Governor Strickland's Mandatory Sick Leave 'Compromise'
Ohio Roundtable



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