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October 6, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

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Banner ad for International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

E-learning Benefit Courses From the International Foundation

You don’t need a navy suit to get ahead at your job. Put on those fuzzy slippers, grab your computer mouse and learn with the International Foundation. The International Foundation’s e-learning courses provide the highest quality education covering all employee benefit topics, from the basics to compliance technicalities. Prove you know your stuff and get to the next level with the International Foundation’s e-learning courses. And bring your pink bunny slippers along for the ride.

[Guidance Overview] Appeals Court Upholds San Francisco's Mandatory Health Care Ordinance: Why You Should Care
Excerpt: "A federal appeals court has upheld a San Francisco ordinance that requires certain San Francisco employers to make minimum health care expenditures for their employees. But even if your business or organization operates far from San Francisco, the court's opinion should be a cause for concern." (Nixon Peabody LLP)


[Guidance Overview] New York Municipalities/School Districts: Paid Time Off for Breast and Prostate Cancer Screening
Excerpt: "On July 21, 2008, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill amending both Civil Service Law §159-b and §159-c, which relate to leave granted to certain public employees for breast and prostate cancer screening respectively. The amendment, which becomes effective on August 20, 2008, clears up a major source of uncertainty for public employers, who in the past several years have become subject to several provisions of the New York State Civil Service Law which entitle employees to excused time off for breast and prostate cancer screening." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)


[Guidance Overview] Three Federal Circuit Courts Consider the Impact of Supreme Court's Glenn Decision on Standard of Review Analysis
Excerpt: "Here is a summary of three post-Glenn circuit court decisions, each of which involved a denial of long-term disability benefits." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview] ADA Amendments Act Modifies Definition of Disability and Makes Other Changes
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: . . . . Employers should keep in mind that although having or being regarded as having a disability is a prerequisite to obtaining relief under the ADA, there will be no ADA violation when a group health plan provides benefits equally to individuals with disabilities and individuals without disabilities. Even if there are differences in health benefits, there should be no violation if the differences are not the result of a 'disability-based distinction' or if benefits are provided through a bona fide benefit plan that is not a subterfuge to evade the ADA's purposes." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview] IRS Guidance on Qualified Reservist Distributions Addresses Many Open Issues
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Although QRDs can help reservists avoid unwanted health FSA forfeitures under the use-or-lose rule, some employers may have delayed amending their health FSA and cafeteria plan documents pending further guidance on QRDs. The guidance in the notice provides much-needed clarification on issues that had been left open by the authorizing legislation, and should help these employers to decide whether to add this new feature to their plans." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


Can a Public Insurance Plan Increase Competition and Lower the Costs of Health Reform?
Excerpt: "Senator Barack Obama, along with others, has proposed developing a public plan that would compete with private insurers within an organized health insurance marketplace. The argument is that a public plan would have lower administrative costs and more ability to control provider payment rates. This paper assesses these arguments concluding that there would be administrative cost savings and lower provider payment rates but not as much as is often asserted. Strong private insurers that offer good value for premiums charged would survive. But most important, the amount of real competition in both insurance and hospital markets would be enhanced." (The Urban Institute)


Bailout Provides More Mental Health Coverage
Excerpt: "[The new law] requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses. The requirement, included in the economic bailout bill that President Bush signed on Friday, is the result of 12 years of passionate advocacy by friends and relatives of people with mental illness and addiction disorders. They described the new law as a milestone in the quest for civil rights, an effort to end insurance discrimination and to reduce the stigma of mental illness." (The New York Times; free registration required)


EEOC Sues Dillard's Over Sick Leave Inquiries
Excerpt: "The government is suing the Dillard Store Services retail chain for requiring employees to disclose personal medical information or face dismissal. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges in the suit that the Dillard's practice violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring employees seeking to use sick leave to tell the company the specific nature of their illness." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Ruling Invites More Scrutiny of Denial of Health Benefit Claims
Excerpt: "A high court's June decision made it clear that employers and insurers face conflicts of interest in administering health benefit plans because they stand to gain financially by denying a claim. The decision means employers and health insurers would be more vulnerable to lawsuits if they did not adequately address these conflicts." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Florida Regulators Try To Determine Specifics of New Law That Allows Some Adults To Stay on Parents' Health Policies Up To Age 30
Excerpt: "A chief concern about the law is whether it will increase employers' health insurance costs. According to Becky Cherney, president and CEO of the Orlando-based Florida Health Care Coalition, adding young adults to employer-supplied health plans could further damage businesses that already have financial difficulties. 'More people are liable to drop group coverage (for their workers) than there are between 25 and 30 who need this coverage,' Cherney said. " (Kaiser Family Foundation)


NCQA's 2008 State of Health Care Quality Report
Excerpt: "NCQA's State of Health Care Quality report is produced annually to monitor and report on performance trends over time, track variations in patterns of care and provide recommendations for future quality improvement. Now in its 12th year, the report provides an exclusive look at the performance data submitted by more than 800 health plans around the country." (National Committee for Quality Assurance)


[Opinion] 9th Circuit Court Ruling Ignores Clear Intent of ERISA
Excerpt: "A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week that San Francisco's health care spending law is not pre-empted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act is another example of how the court got its reputation of being the most overturned of the nation's appeals courts. ERISA's language is direct: It says that ERISA pre-empts state and local laws and rules that relate to employee benefit plans." (Business Insurance)


[Opinion] American Benefits Council Statement on Safeguarding Retiree Health Benefits (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "I am writing on behalf of the member companies of the American Benefits Council . . . to correct a statement made by a member of the Committee concerning the Council's position on health care reform and to share our views with you on the Emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act of 2007 (H.R. 1322). I respectfully request that this letter be included as part of the Committee's record for the September 25, 2008 hearing on H.R. 1322." (American Benefits Council)


[Opinion] Reagan Warned Against Legislation That Would Guarantee Health Care for Older Americans — the Program Now Known As Medicare
Excerpt: "Conservative Republicans still hate Medicare, and would kill it if they could -- in fact, they tried to gut it during the Clinton years (that's what the 1995 shutdown of the government was all about). But so far they haven't been able to pull that off. So John McCain wants to destroy the health insurance of nonelderly Americans instead." (The New York Times; free registration required)


[Opinion] Pay or Play Acts, the Ninth Circuit, and the Never Ending Law of Unintended Consequences
Excerpt: "Among the most prominent decisions issued while I was in court was, obviously, the Ninth Circuit's ruling finding that San Francisco's pay or play law was not preempted by ERISA. Can't say I buy that one. Whatever is the scope of preemption in the field of ERISA, it logically reaches state efforts that result in a multi-jurisdictional company having to comply, with regards to its employee benefit plans, with a differing web of regulation that varies from one state to the next. Of more interest, perhaps, is the wide ranging group of consequences, some predictable and others unintended, that the Ninth Circuit ruling likely unleashes." (Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm, LLC)



Sponsored by: ALM

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Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.

(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] The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008: Impact of the Historic New Law
Morgan Lewis provides a summary and practice-specific comments as useful resources on the Act. (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Treasury Bailout Program Restricts Executive Pay for Participating Asset Holders
Excerpt: "Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Act seeks to limit the extent to which asset holders, or their top executives, will benefit from the federal government bailout, and to discourage those asset holders or their executives from engaging in fraud or taking on inappropriate risk. Accordingly, most asset holders that choose to participate in the program will be subject to certain limitations on executive pay." (Faegre & Benson LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Executive Compensation Limitations for Financial Institutions Participating in Troubled Assets Relief Program under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
Excerpt: "EESA includes direct federal restrictions and limitations, as well as new tax penalties, that will apply to executive compensation provided by financial institutions participating in TARP (collectively, the 'Compensation Provisions'). The applicable Compensation Provisions will depend on the value of the troubled assets a financial institution sells and how the sales are implemented. The Compensation Provisions apply to private as well as public companies and appear to include almost no transition relief for existing compensation arrangements." (Jones Day)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

ADA Amendments Act: Compliance Issues Await Employers Webcast
Nationwide on October 10, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Impact of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act on Executive Compensation and Benefit Plans
Nationwide on October 16, 2008
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Legislative Update
in District of Columbia on November 12, 2008
presented by Capital Chapter ISCEBS

Trick or Treat? Reduce Health Care Trend Now, Prepare for Health Care 2010 and Beyond
in District of Columbia on October 30, 2008
presented by Capital Chapter ISCEBS



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PSCA Elects 2008-2009 Board of Directors
Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA)



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