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August 15, 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] Law Prohibiting Liens Against Workers Compensation Settlements Preempted by ERISA
Excerpt: "ERISA preempted an Illinois state law outlawing any claim on a workers' compensation award, because the law related to benefits plans regulated by ERISA, a federal trial court decided. As a result, an employer may seek reimbursement of group health plan funds from workers' compensation awards. The health plan paid the expenses before a determination was made that the claims were work related." (Passion for Subro)

Medicare Secondary Payer ó Coordination of Benefits (PDF)
18 pages. Excerpt: "Under certain conditions, the law makes Medicare the secondary payer to insurance plans and programs for beneficiaries covered through (1) a group health plan based on either their own or a spouse's current employment; (2) auto and other liability insurance; (3) no-fault liability insurance; and (4) workers' compensation situations, including the Black Lung program. The purpose of the MSP program is to shift costs from Medicare to private sources of payment, thus reducing Medicare expenditures." (U.S. Congressional Research Service)

Legislation to Address Problems with Health Care System Should 'Do No Harm,' Opinion Piece States
Excerpt: "U.S. residents are 'dissatisfied with the health care status quo, and rightfully so,' but the system 'is not on the verge of collapse,' Gary Andres, vice chair of Dutko Worldwide, and James Capretta, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, write in a Washington Times opinion piece." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Employers Finalizing Negotiations for 2009 Health Care Coverage Offerings
Excerpt: "Negotiations often revolve around contract terms, administrative fees, discounts on health-care provider networks, medical management programs and the pricing and level of services offered, Stacey said. Employers typically examine a vendor's performance record on customer service and data-collection techniques so they can stay on top of what's driving health-care costs." (MarketWatch)

Rule Would Toughen Massachusetts Health Care Coverage Requirement
Excerpt: "Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's administration has issued a regulation that would tighten the rules employers in the state must meet to avoid paying an assessment to the state to help provide coverage to the uninsured." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

Medicare Drug Plan Monthly Premiums Up About 12% for 2009
Excerpt: "The typical Medicare beneficiary can expect to see about a $3 increase in their monthly premiums for prescription drug coverage in 2009, federal officials said Thursday. Officials made the projection based on bids from private insurers that get the premiums along with a federal subsidy to administer the benefit. The increase of 12% will up the monthly premium to $28 for standard drug coverage." (USA TODAY)

New Analysis Shows How Paid Sick Leave Bill Would Force Significant Modifications in Companies' Benefits
Excerpt: "As described in a new HR Policy Analysis, the (HFA) (S. 910 / H.R. 1542), introduced by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), would require employers already providing the benefit to make a number of significant modifications to ensure compliance . . . . [Links to the Act and to the analysis are on the target page.]" (HR Policy Association)

Surgical Errors Cost Nearly $1.5 Billion Annually
Excerpt: "Potentially preventable medical errors that occur during or after surgery might cost employers nearly $1.5 billion a year, according to new estimates by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)." (Wolters Kluwer)

Health-Care Costs May Overwhelm Retirees's Retirement Finances
Excerpt: "The rising cost of health care is making it harder for Americans to put enough away for retirement, an academic report indicates. A study released . . . by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research found that when the costs of health care are considered, 28 percent of all workers incorrectly think they will have enough money for retirement. According to the center's National Retirement Risk Index, these people are actually 'at risk' and don't perceive the financial problems that lie ahead." (The Columbus Dispatch)

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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] HEART Act Provides Special Benefits for Active Duty Military
Excerpt: "On June 17, President Bush signed into law the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act (HEART Act) of 2008. This bill . . . provides certain qualified plan and other tax benefits for members of the military on active duty (or who become disabled or die while on active duty). In this article, we'll discuss briefly the benefit plan issues raised by the HEART Act." (JPMorgan Chase & Co.)

San Francisco Mandates Transit Benefits
Excerpt: "Employers with 20 or more employees in San Francisco will be required to offer commuter benefits to their workers under an ordinance passed Tuesday, August 12, by the city's Board of Supervisors. . . . The mayor has 10 days to decide whether to sign or veto the measure." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

New Data on Federal-Private Compensation Gap Rekindles Debate
Excerpt: "Recent data indicating that the average federal employee enjoys better pay and benefits than the typical private sector worker is misleading, according to federal employee groups and nonprofit organizations. The data, released last week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, does not break down compensation by profession or geographical area, critics noted." (

Employee Ownership Update for August 14, 2008
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses final rules for reimbursable costs for government contractors that have ESOPs; a study finding broad-based stock options in venture-backed companies are both common and effective; a model for engaging employee-owners in innovation; a conference celebrating the top small workplaces; and a new survey on equity compensation. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

IRS Revises Voluntary Correction Program for Retirement Plans
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

New Report Says Pensions Can Provide Retirement Income at Half the Cost of Individual Accounts
National Institute on Retirement Security

AvMed, Inc. Unveils New Self-Funded Solutions for Large Employers
AvMed, Inc.

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