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November 18, 2008

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

Today's sponsor is Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA)

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Health and Welfare Roundup 2008

The recent onslaught of new benefits law changesómental health parity rules, required coverage for college students, final regulations on coverage for newborns and mothers, and moreómeans that 2008 is packing a bigger-than-expected compliance bang. Let EBIA help you sort out what the developments really mean for health and welfare plans. For more information and to register, please visit EBIA's Web Seminars.

[Guidance Overview] Long Awaited FMLA Regulations Released
Excerpt: "The regulations provide employers new tools to administer FMLA leave more efficiently, including improvements in the area employers have identified as the most problematic -- potential abuse of intermittent leave rights. However, to leverage those tools, employers must update FMLA policies and forms and communicate more effectively, both verbally and in writing, with employees." (Jackson Lewis)

[Guidance Overview] DOL Issues Final FMLA Regulations
Excerpt: "The following offers highlights of the more significant changes in the FMLA rules from an employer's perspective: . . . ." (Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Thorny Issues Presented In Grants Of Discretion To Third-Party Benefit Administrators
Excerpt: "Employers and TPA's should give careful thought to these case authorities in drafting claims administration agreements. At a minimum, the agreements and the plan language should be coordinated on grants of authority. Obviously, explicit grants of authority are preferred and may in some jurisdictions be required to gain deferential review of claims denials. Administrative practices should conform to the agreement terms with attention to documentation of decisions as responsibility is allocated by plan terms." (Health Plan Law Blog)

Findings From the 2008 EBRI Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey
Excerpt: "In 2008, 3 percent of the population was enrolled in a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP), up from 2 percent in 2007 and 1 percent in 2006. . . . In 2008, HDHP enrollees continued to be more likely than traditional plan enrollees to report that they had delayed or avoided getting any needed health care services because of costs. But the difference between traditional plan enrollees and CDHP disappeared, mostly because more traditional plan enrollees reported access issues due to costs." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Employers Taking Renewed Interest in On-Site Health Clinics; Issues to Consider (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "Employers have several options when considering their role and responsibilities for an on-site clinic. Options include a clinic: (1) Owned and operated by the employer, (2) Owned by an employer who subcontracts with health care providers to staff and operate the clinic, [or] (3) Owned by the employer who outsources the clinic's entire operation to a third-party vendor partner." (Buck Consultants)

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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] Congress to Offshore Deferred Compensation: Drop Dead
Excerpt: "After December 31, 2008, Code Section 457A prohibits deferrals by US taxpayers under certain deferred compensation and equity-related arrangements of 'tax indifferent parties', which include entities located in certain tax free (so-called 'tax haven') jurisdictions. Code Section 457A requires that such compensation be included in the income of US employees and other service providers subject to US income tax in the year in which it is no longer subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture." (Baker & McKenzie)

Growing Sense of Outrage Over Executive Pay
Excerpt: "The public's indignation over lavish executive pay has rippled beyond the circles of activist investors and corporate governance watchdogs, who for years have wrung their hands over compensation practices. It has spread even beyond grass-roots community organizers and public policy think tanks to people who make their living in the financial industry . . . ." (Washington Post via California Nurses Association)

Employee Ownership Update for November 17, 2008
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses a new study finding that ESOPs owning less than 5% of company shares have a small but positive effect on total compensation, while in companies where the ESOP owns more than 5%, total compensation is 5.2% higher; a trend to reprice stock options; a new resource for business school case studies on employee ownership; a cautionary tale of planning for the ESOP repurchase obligation; a job at the NCEO; and NCEO board nominations. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

[Opinion] Our Spendthrift States Don't Need a Bailout; Grants of New Unfunded Benefits Were Irresponsible
Excerpt: "[One reason states incur budget deficits] is their failure to deal with huge and growing employee pension and benefits liabilities. . . . A study three years ago by the Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated that the average public sector worker earns 46% more in total compensation than his counterpart in the private sector, largely because government employers spend 60% more per worker on benefits than counterparts in the private sector." (Steve Malanga in the Wall Street Journal)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

FMLA Final Regulations - Teleconference
Nationwide on December 12, 2008
presented by Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Watson Wyatt Data Servicesí Latest Report Covers Latest Trends in Compensation Policies and Practices
Watson Wyatt Data Services

PBGC Releases Annual Management Report for Fiscal Year 2008
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

U.S. Department Of Labor Final Rule Will Expand FMLA For Military Families And Clarify Rules For Workers And Employers
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Entrustís Revolutionary IRA Debit CardSM Provides Unparalleled Convenience & Flexibility
The Entrust Group

Secure Services Corp. Launches Consumer Gateway for SHAPE PHRô
Secure Services Corporation

Kiplinger and BBB Military Line Arm Military Families for Financial Future
Kiplinger and BBB Military Line

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in AL

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