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October 3, 2008

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.


Today's sponsor is BeneCom Associates, LLC

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[Guidance Overview] Ninth Circuit Panel Gives Go Ahead to San Francisco Employer Spending Requirements
Excerpt: "The Required Expenditure - The expenditure varies based upon employer size . . . . So, it's something like this: #hrs paid x #covered ee's x surcharge rate = required expenditure. Satisfying The Requirement - The regulations provide several options for satisfying the requirement, including a payment to the City, which will then entitle the employees to care under the [Health Access Plan]." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Guidance Overview] San Francisco Pay-or-Play Law Not Preempted
Excerpt: "The National Coalition on Benefits [offers] a legal analysis of the September 30 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which upheld the employer spending requirements of a San Francisco health care ordinance, holding that the requirements are not preempted by ERISA." (National Coalition on Benefits)


[Guidance Overview] Ninth Circuit Holds ERISA Does Not Preempt San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The panel's ruling means that the Ordinance will continue in full affect unless the panel's decision is overturned. The plaintiff, Golden Gate Restaurant Association ('GGRA'), has ten days to request an en banc review of the case. An en banc review means that eleven (11) judges from the Ninth Circuit would review the panel's decision. Even if GGRA requests en banc review, the Ninth Circuit may not grant that request. GGRA may also request review from the Supreme Court of the United States, which also may reject the request. GGRA may choose to seek Supreme Court review regardless of whether it seeks en banc review from the Ninth Circuit." (Groom Law Group)


[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated October 1, 2008, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
3 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans. (Hewitt Associates)


Sabbaticals Still a Rarity in Business But Becoming More Common, According to Book
Excerpt: "The new book, 'Reboot Your Life: How Taking Time Off From Work Will Enhance Your Personal and Professional Life,' is expected to be released next year. It's authored by a foursome that has dubbed itself 'The Sabbatical Sisters' -- Allen and coauthors Jaye Smith, CEO, Breakwater Consulting; Nancy Bearg, a security expert; and Rita Foley, a career coach." (Bank Systems & Technology)


Lawmakers Make a Final Push for Mental Health Bill
Excerpt: "Employers and insurers were concerned that legislation would have required plans to cover a ''telephone book'' of conditions, raising costs beyond what companies and their workers could afford and potentially negating companies' ability to offer any health coverage at all. The legislation now before the House does not mandate that group health plans cover mental health or addiction treatment, only that when plans do so, the coverage must be equitable to other medical coverage. The insurance industry is now a strong supporter of the parity legislation." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)


Chart: Variation in Life Insurance Benefits by Establishment Size, 2008
Excerpt: "In March 2008, over half of workers in private industry participated in life insurance benefits. Workers in larger establishments were more likely to participate in such benefits than workers in smaller establishments." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


U.S. Health Care Improved in '07, According to Report
Excerpt: "A new report scrutinizing America's health plans shows that health care quality continued to improve in 2007, with significant advances in the treatment of high blood pressure, one of the leading causes of death and disability. For nine years in a row, the health care delivered by participating health plans has continued to improve despite rising costs and a slowing national economy, based on data gathered by the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set, or HEDIS." (The Salt Lake Tribune)


Commission Certifies 10 EHR Products Based on New 2008 Criteria
Excerpt: "This week, the Certification Commission for Health IT certified 10 ambulatory care electronic health record products based on its new 2008 criteria, Health Data Management reports. . . . CCHIT officials said criteria and testing were updated to provide better assurance to physicians that the products will meet their functionality, interoperability and security needs (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 9/30)." (California HealthCare Foundation)


Small Employers Cut Back Health Coverage in Economic Slowdown, According to Survey
Excerpt: "As business owners scramble to cut expenses In light of the slowing economy, health care coverage has taken a hit, a new American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor has found. A news release found the number of business owners who offer health care benefits to employees has dropped to 54% from 66% this spring and 71% in fall 2007. This comes despite nearly two-thirds of bosses agreeing it is important to offer employee health care coverage - down slightly from 69% in fall 2007." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Mental Health Parity Measure Tacked onto Wall Street Aid Bill
Excerpt: "Compromise mental health parity legislation (H.R. 1424) has been joined with a Wall Street financial aid package that passed the U.S. Senate this week." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


[Opinion] Why the ERISA Ruling in San Francisco Is a Big Deal for Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "The ruling on the San Francisco health care ordinance is important for several reasons: First, it clearly dismisses the arguments of the fast food industry and the Chamber of Commerce that the employer requirement violates ERISA. Second, the ruling takes head on the decision by the Second Circuit Court on Maryland (known as RILA after the Retail Industry Leaders Association that filed that case)." (California Progress Report)



Sponsored by: WorldatWork

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WorldatWork publications in the BenefitsLink Bookstore

WorldatWork, a not-for-profit professional association, is a leading publisher of compensation, benefits and total rewards information. With a portfolio of books, reports, survey briefs, booklets and online learning programs, WorldatWork creates, markets and distributes publications that are critical to improved organizational performance. WorldatWork has contributed to the education and development of business professionals worldwide since 1955.

(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated October 1, 2008, on Human Resources & Employment Law (PDF)
2 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)


Summary of Benefits-Related Provisions in Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
Excerpt: "Some of the benefits-related provisions in EESA passed by the Senate in addition to the executive compensation provisions . . . ." (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via Benefitsblog.com)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Debit Card Programs: Legal, Administrative, and Marketplace Update
Nationwide on October 30, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Older Workers Worried About Promised Medicare and Social Security Benefits
Watson Wyatt

New Snapshots Examine Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits And Compensation
Kaiser Family Foundation



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