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August 26, 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] CMS Publishes Summary of Proposed Mandatory Insurer Reporting Requirements
Excerpt: "The MMSEA . . . created new Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) data–reporting requirements. Starting January 1, 2009, the new MSP data–reporting requirements will require insurers, TPAs and a plan administrator or fiduciary of a self–insured/self–administered group health plan to: [i] Collect from the plan sponsor and plan participants information to identify situations where the group health plan is primary to Medicare, and [ii] Submit such information to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a form and manner specified by HHS." (Sibson)


[Guidance Overview] New Hampshire Mandates Obesity Coverage and Bariatric Surgery
Excerpt: "New Hampshire health insurers and HMOs must soon cover medically necessary treatments and services related to morbid obesity, including bariatric surgery, if the insured is age 18 or older and meets [certain] standards . . . . Other related services to be covered include pre-operative psychological screening and counseling, behavior modification, weight loss and exercise regimens, and post-operative follow-up." (Mercer)


[Guidance Overview] On-Site Health Clinics Require an Ounce of Legal Prevention
Excerpt: "Employers offering clinics can achieve attractive outcomes, but realizing these gains requires navigating a complex legal landscape. This Update answers questions about several legal issues faced in setting up and sponsoring on-site health clinics." (Mercer)


[Guidance Overview] Maryland and the District of Columbia Enact New Employee Leave Laws
Excerpt: "Effective October 1, 2008, any employer who is engaged in business in the State of Maryland and who employs 15 or more individuals is subject to the new law. The law impacts any of those employers who provide paid leave (i.e., sick leave, vacation time or compensatory time) under an employment policy or collective bargaining agreement. The employer must allow the employees to use the leave for ill family members . . . ." (Deloitte)


Patients Suffer As Care, Coverage Limits Collide; Physicians Say Insurers Intrude on Treatment
Excerpt: "Increasing healthcare costs and an influx of expensive drugs and tests, combined with an aging population, set off a healthcare crisis in the United States. Contending with soaring costs, insurers changed the business of health care by requiring preauthorizations, mandating cheaper drugs, and tightening controls on treatment decisions. But among the first casualties of these changes, many physicians said, was the doctor-patient relationship." (Toledo Blade)


Alabama Board Approves Plan To Charge State Employees for Obesity, Health Problems
Excerpt: "The Alabama State Employees' Insurance Board last week approved a plan that will require state employees who are obese or have health problems to make progress to address those issues or pay a monthly charge for health insurance, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)


Wellness Efforts Should Focus on Younger Employees
Excerpt: "A new study suggests younger workers have more unhealthy lifestyles than older workers and are at greater risk for developing long-term health problems." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Governments Mostly Undecided on OPEB Funding Strategy
Excerpt: "Strategies to deal with new standards imposed by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) have yet to be widely decided by governments, despite a compliance deadline of the end of 2009. A study conducted by the nonprofit Cobalt Community Research found 74% of local governments that provide retiree health care are aware of the GASB 45 requirements, and 47% report that they have already calculated their retiree health care liability or the calculation is in process. GASB 45 requires states to identify the costs for other post employment benefits (OPEB) in their FY 2008 financial reports." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] Employee Benefits Developments, August 2008 Issue
Includes ESOP Dividends -- New Tax Reporting Rules; Mere Posting of SPD on Intranet Does Not Ensure Actual Receipt; Trilogy of IRS Guidance Regarding Health Savings Accounts; Service by Director as Interim CEO Results in Loss of Tax Deduction for Corporation; IRS Proposes Regulations Regarding 'Greater of' DB Plan Formulas; and No FICA Tax Refund On Nonqualified Deferred Comp Plan Benefits Never Received; Kentucky Retirement System Does Not Violate the ADEA. (Hodgson Russ)


[Guidance Overview] On the Interplay Between 401(k) Hardship Distribution Rules and 409A 'Unforeseeable Emergencies'
Excerpt: "The interplay between the 401(k) plan rules regarding hardship distributions and the Code Section 409A rules regarding unforeseeable emergencies can work to prevent one who participates in both plans from being able to receive a 401(k) hardship distribution or cease elective 409A plan deferrals to access cash for authorized hardship events. This possibility will be explained in this article. This article will also summarize the 401(k) plan financial hardship rules, as well as the Section 409A unforeseeable emergency rules, and demonstrate how these rules can conspire to put the executive in a Catch-22." (Chang Ruthenberg & Long PC)


[Guidance Overview] DOL Enforcement Manual Updated to Address Fiduciary Gifts & Gratuities
Excerpt: "The Enforcement Manual carves out two circumstances where investigators are generally to conclude that no violation of ERISA § 406(b)(3) has occurred: (1) $250 de minimis amount: where a fiduciary and its family members receive consideration (i.e., gifts, gratuities, meals, entertainment, other non-cash consideration, or reimbursement of expenses associated with educational conferences) of an aggregate annual value of less than $250 and their receipt does not violate any plan policy or provision; (2) Educational expenses: where the plan is reimbursed for expenses associated with a plan representative's attendance at an educational conference, provided that: . . . ." (Deloitte)


Some Firms' Options Drowning as Stock Drops Pound Fortune 500
Excerpt: "Compensation consultants say an increasing number of companies are considering dealing with their now-worthless options, either by repricing them or exchanging them for newly issued restricted stock." (Workforce Management)


A Tax Revolt Is Quietly Brewing in Some States
Excerpt: "These and other battles come at a time when many states are struggling to cope with tough economic times." (Wall Street Journal via Baltimore Sun)


[Opinion] On Estoppel and Equitable Remedies Under ERISA: It Should Be a Two-Way Street
Excerpt: "I've complained at times in the past that too many federal Circuit and District courts view ERISA's equitable remedies as a one way street. Plan fiduciaries chasing subrogation or overpayment claims have free rein to recover money from plan participants under the guise of 'appropriate equitable relief.' Yet those some courts often deny the participants any monetary recovery for violations of ERISA because recovery of money supposedly falls outside the scope of 'appropriate equitable relief.'" (Brian S. King's ERISA Law Blog)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

HRAs and HSAs: The Basics and New Developments
Nationwide on September 25, 2008
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Proposed Fee Disclosure Regulations Overview
Nationwide on August 26, 2008
presented by Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U.S. Department of Labor Sues Defunct West Chester, Pennsylvania Company To Protect Participants of Abandoned Retirement Plan
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)



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Retirement Plan Administrator
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in NV

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Employee Benefits Senior Manager
for Lockheed Martin Corporation
in MD

Defined Benefit Software Support Specialist
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in ANY STATE

Actuary / Actuarial Consultant
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in FL, GA, NC, SC

Retirement Plan Administrator
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in NY

Client Relations Associate
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in MI

Trusts & Estates Attorney
for Prestigious Sarasota Law Firm
in FL

Senior Advice Specialist
for Charles Schwab
in TX

Advice Services Representative
for Charles Schwab
in AZ

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for Charles Schwab
in TX

Specialist - Brokerage Svc Rep
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in CO

Business Development Education Consultant for Retirement Plans
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in TX

Participant Services Manager
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in AZ

Specialist - Client Svc
for Charles Schwab
in TX

Cashiering Operations Lead
for Charles Schwab
in AZ

Specialist - 401K Client Svc
for Charles Schwab
in TX

Sr. Retirement Plan Specialist
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in OH

Trust Accounting Specialist
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in TX




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