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August 7, 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] Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Notices Are Updated
Excerpt: "[The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' three Model Notices are revised primarily to reflect formatting and organization changes. Substantive changes appear minor but include: Re-Enrollment: Definitive disclosure of whether the individual can re-enroll in the plan after dropping coverage. Medicare Special Enrollment Period: Clarification that the special enrollment period for enrollment in Medicare Part D is 2 months (rather than 60 days) after loss of Creditable Coverage." (Deloitte via

Study Shows Health Insurance Sales Across State Lines Would Reduce Uninsured
Excerpt: "A study evaluating different scenarios that would allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines found that 12 million previously uninsured people would be able to get insurance if there were competition between states. The study was presented during an American Enterprise Institute panel discussion on interstate competition for individual insurance as a way to increase access to the uninsured." (Congressional Quarterly Inc.)

Federal Employees' Sick Leave
Excerpt: "Federal employees hired since 1984 could be just months away from being able to cash out their unused sick leave at retirement. Last week, the House passed a measure that would allow workers covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (generally those hired in 1984 or later) to apply their leftover sick leave toward their retirement annuity. The measure seeks to correct a disparity between FERS and the older Civil Service Retirement System, under which employees receive credit for unused sick leave." (

Public Views on U.S. Health System Organization: A Call for New Directions
Excerpt: "Adults' health care experiences underscore the need to organize care systems to ensure timely access, better coordination, and better flow of information among doctors and patients. There is also a need to simplify health insurance administration. There was broad agreement among survey respondents that wider use of health information systems and greater care coordination could improve patient care. The majority of adults say it is very important for the 2008 presidential candidates to seek reforms to address health care quality, access, and costs." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Medicare Reform Law May Impact Retiree Medical Plans (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "The recently passed Medicare Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (the 'Act') includes a number of reforms to Medicare which may impact employer sponsored retiree medical plans. Specifically, the Act imposes additional requirements on Medicare Private Fee for Service ('PFFS') plans." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Obama vs. McCain: Tracking Competing Health Care Visions (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "One thing is clear from that continuous tracking: the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates fundamentally differ on their vision for health care reform. Sen. Barack Obama believes the market does not (and perhaps cannot) work well in health care, and so a strong government hand is needed to force the system to work for everyone. Sen. John McCain believes the market can work in health care if given the chance, and proposes reducing or relaxing some of the current regulatory framework to increase competition and choice." (Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Wall Street Journal Examines Proliferation of Urgent Care Clinics
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined how patients 'who need immediate care for injuries and illness . . . are increasingly turning to walk-in urgent care clinics.' According to the Journal, such clinics -- which require no appointment and offer extended weekend and evening hours -- 'fill the gap' between the need for care and an increasingly limited supply of primary care physicians and crowded emergency departments." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] Severance Benefits - the August 6 Sixth Circuit case of Ljubisavljevic v. National City Corporation
Excerpt: "The Sixth Circuit opinion is very short, but the district court opinion provides a detailed analysis. According to the Sixth Circuit, 'the sole issue on appeal in this case is whether a negotiated provision of a merger agreement between Provident Bank and National City created a severance plan governed by ERISA.'" (

Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2008
Excerpt: "Two-thirds of private industry and State and local government workers (defined in this survey as civilian workers) had access to retirement benefits and nearly three-quarters to medical care in March 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y (PDF)
Excerpt: "One striking finding of this research is that many young adults have yet to align their actions with their financial values and goals. These young adults feel that they should be saving more, both in general and specifically for retirement. For example, they place high importance on workplace benefits, especially health insurance and retirement savings plans. Overwhelmingly, however, the majority believe they are not currently saving as much as they should. People in these younger generations tend to feel that assuming adult responsibilities, like purchasing a home and supporting a family, is more difficult for them than it was for prior generations. [Originally published March 2008.]" (American Savings Education Council / AARP via EBRI)

The New Workplace Perk: Gasoline
Excerpt: "Gasoline has become the new workplace perk, as employers scramble to help workers cut its use and cost. A dollar a gallon ago, things like telecommuting, shortened workweeks and Internet subsidies were ways of saving time and providing workers with a little more balance in their lives. Now they have become ways to save money and to keep workers from, well, walking." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Survey Finds that Gas Prices Influence Employer Policies for Auto-Bound Employees
Excerpt: "Jackson Lewis LLP, [a workplace law firm], recently conducted a survey of more than 100 employers in New York's metropolitan commuter areas to determine how recent unrelenting gas prices have affected the employer-employee relationship. The survey found that the sky rocketing gas prices have led employers to adjust workplace policies and programs accordingly." (PR Newswire via NewsEdge via Human Resource Executive Online)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Communicating Benefits to Multiple Generations Webcast
Nationwide on August 21, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Creating a WOW Experience for your Clients!
Nationwide on September 16, 2008
presented by National Institute of Pension Administrators

Plan Administrator Year-end "To-Dos" for Welfare Plans Webcast
Nationwide on August 12, 2008
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Jackson Lewis Finds that Gas Prices Influence Employer Policies for Auto-Bound Employees
Jackson Lewis LLP

More Banks Sell Fee-Based Products - But Still Not Enough
Bank Insurance Market Research Group

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Retirement Plan Conversion Specialist
for PSA Financial Services
in MD

Senior Plan Consultant
for Scholz, Klein & Friends Enlightened Retirement Group, Inc.
in TX

Subrogation/Third Party Liability (TPL) Recovery Specialist
for Delta Health Systems
in CA

Third Party Administration (TPA) Accountant
for BKD, LLP
in AR

Plan Analyst and Enrollment/Communications Specialist
for Pension Specialists, Inc
in CA

Retirement Plan Administration Sales/Service
for DailyAccess Corporation
in MI

Pension Assistant
for Swerdlin and Company
in GA

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