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November 19, 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] Final FMLA Regulations (PDF)
Excerpt: "The regulations take effect January 16, 2009. It is imperative that all employers covered by the FMLA consider these regulations in connection with their existing FMLA policies, procedures and handbook provisions accordingly." (Snell & Wilmer)

[Guidance Overview] Benefits-Related Provisions in the Final FMLA Regulations
Excerpt: "[H]ere are the benefits-related sections of the regulations: 825.209 Maintenance of employee benefits; 825.210 Employee payment of group health benefit premiums; 825.211 Maintenance of benefits under multi-employer health plans; 825.212 Employee failure to pay health plan premium payments; [and] 825.213 Employer recovery of benefit costs. . . . Also, here is what the DOL has to say in the preamble as to what, if any changes, were made to the benefits-related provisions in these final regulations:" (BenefitsBlog by Attorney B. Janell Grenier)

[Guidance Overview] Which Family Members Can Have Tax-Free Health Coverage?
Excerpt: "Employer-provided family health coverage is tax-free to employees only if family members meet certain rules. Congress and the IRS have recently revised these tax rules, creating uncertainty about which family members can have employer-provided health coverage exempt from federal taxes. This Update reflects IRS guidance issued earlier this year and federal tax law changes enacted in October . . . ." (Mercer)

[Guidance Overview] New Jersey Issues Model Paid Family Leave Notice to Post and Give to Employees by Dec. 15
Excerpt: "New Jersey regulators issued a model employee notice that describes new paid family leave benefits." (Mercer)

[Guidance Overview] UAW-Type VEBAs Must File New Retiree Drug Subsidy Applications
Excerpt: "Faced with the prospect of employers transferring retiree medical liability to union-sponsored voluntary employees' beneficiary association (VEBA) trusts, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued guidance confirming that VEBAs can participate in the Part D retiree drug subsidy (RDS) program but must file their own RDS applications." (Mercer)

[Guidance Overview] Fourth Circuit Splits With Sixth Circuit On Procedural Violation Remedy
The Fourth Circuit opinion stated, 'The district court's reliance on the Sixth Circuit's decision in Wenner was misplaced, both because it is contrary to the law of this circuit and because that decision's rationale is flawed. In Wenner, a claimant's ERISA benefits were ordered reinstated, a substantive remedy, even though the only ERISA violation was a 29 U.S.C. §1133 procedural violation and the merits of the claim had not been decided." (Health Plan Law Blog by attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

[Guidance Overview] Overview of Recent Municipal and State Healthcare Reforms
Excerpt: "Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina all have passed laws requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for treatment associated with autism. In addition, California, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia are considering such legislation in 2009." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

[Guidance Overview] First Circuit Allows Fiduciary Claim to Proceed Against Insurer Over Use of Retained Asset Account (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "On November 6, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit overturned the dismissal of a complaint against an insurer asserting breaches of fiduciary duties under ERISA where the insurer paid life insurance benefits by means of a retained asset account. In so ruling, the court rejected arguments by the insurer (1) that payment through the retained asset account was the equivalent of a lump sum payment and (2) that the breach of fiduciary duty claim was precluded by ERISA's guaranteed benefit contract provision." (Sutherland)

Medicare Likely to Drop Coverage of Surgery for Combating Diabetes
Excerpt: "As the largest single payer of health care in the country, Medicare's proposal to no longer cover a procedure strongly influences what procedures employers and health insurers will cover." (Workforce Management)

Federal and State Lawmakers Pushing to Expand Paid Family Leave
Excerpt: "No incoming president has set a more ambitious work-family agenda than Barack Obama. The president-elect has said he wants a federal sick-day mandate and expansion of family leave. With Democrats also in control now of legislatures in 27 states, up from 23 before the election, change on this front is likely." (Wall Street Journal)

New Snapshot on Employer-Based Health Coverage Highlighting Key Differences Between Small and Large Firms
Excerpt: "This Snapshot expands on information presented in the 2008 Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits to look exclusively at the differences in offer rates, plan costs and cost sharing for small firms and large firms and includes an analysis of out-of-pocket payments from 2004 and 2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Sponsored by: ALM

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Banner ad for ALM

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] 2008 Year-End Plan Sponsor 'To Do' Lists (PDF)
22 pages; at pages 1-14; bravo! Excerpt: "Attached are seven 'to do' lists that may require you to take action before the end of 2008 or in early 2009. Many of the action items are a result of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (the 'PPA'). For your convenience we have broken the 'to do' lists into the following seven categories: All Qualified Plans; Section 401(k) Plans; Defined Contribution Plans (other than Section 401(k) Plans); Defined Benefit Plans; Section 403(b) and Section 457(b) Plans; Health and Welfare Plans; [and] Executive Compensation." (Snell & Wilmer)

[Guidance Overview] Executive Compensation Restrictions Under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act
Excerpt: "[The executive compensation restrictions under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act] may stimulate further legislative efforts to reform executive compensation and may influence institutional shareholders, corporate governance firms and proxy solicitors in the coming months. As a result, it is reasonable to expect that compensation committees will be asking in the coming months whether some of these changes would be appropriate to extend to companies that are not participating in these programs. " (LawDragon)

AIG to Distribute Previously Deferred Compensation
Excerpt: "American International Group Inc. is terminating 14 voluntary deferred compensation programs involving 5,600 employees and independent agents and representatives. Approximately $500 million in earned but deferred pay will be distributed in the first quarter of 2009." (On Wall Street)

Navigating Your Way Through Market Turbulence (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt from a Principal Financial Group press release: 'As market turbulence takes its toll on everything from 401(k) account balances to pension plan funding, employers are scrambling to assess the full impact on their retirement programs. They are also worried about what actions they may need to take right now as fiduciaries. . . . A new guide from the Principal Financial Group(r) can help employers make this critical review of their retirement programs. Navigating Your Way through Market Turbulence takes an in-depth look at how the market volatility may be affecting four common retirement plan types: defined benefit, defined contribution, Employee Stock Ownership Plan and nonqualified deferred compensation. The guide offers action steps to consider for each plan type." (Principal Financial Group)

[Opinion] Comment Letter by Frederick W. Cook & Co. on Capital Purchase Program's Executive Compensation Restrictions (PDF)
Excerpt: "On October 20, 2008, the Office of Domestic Finance of the Department of the Treasury published in the Federal Register an interim final rule providing guidance on the executive compensation provisions applicable to participants in the Troubled Asset Relief Program Capital Purchase Program ('CPP') under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the 'Act'). This letter sets forth the comments of Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc. to the interim final rule." (Frederick W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Annual Legislative Update – Extended Meeting
in Illinois on December 4, 2008
presented by WEB - Chicago West

EESA’s New Executive Pay Practices for Covered Financial Institutions Webcast
Nationwide on November 20, 2008
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Everything You Need to Know About EFAST2
in Illinois on December 18, 2008
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of Chicago

What Employee Benefits Lawyers Need to Know about GINA/Michelle's Law/ADA Changes
Nationwide on December 16, 2008
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U.S. Department Of Labor Sues To Recover 401(k) Assets For Former Employees Of Stockton, California Dental Manufacturer
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

New Guide Helps Retirement Plan Sponsors Weather Storm of Volatile Markets
Principal Financial Group

16th Milliman Survey Indicates Health Insurance Rate Increases in 2009
Milliman USA

Schwab to Provide TPAs with Benchmarking Information
Charles Schwab Corporation

SunGard Offers Prepaid Benefits Card to Relius 125 Customers

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Retirement Plan Administration Specialist
for Consulting Actuaries Incorporated
in NJ

Pension Plan Administrator
for Howard Simon & Associates
in IL

Actuarial Services Coordinator
for San Francisco Employees' Retirement System
in CA

Retirement Education Specialist
for The Newport Group
in NC

Relationship Manager II
for Wilmington Trust, Retirement & Institutional Services Company
in DE

Pension Administrator
for Armstrong, Doyle, and Carroll, Inc.
in PA

Pension Administrator
for Windes & McClaughry Accountancy Corp.
in CA

Field Claim Examiner
for MassMutual Financial Group
in CA

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