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December 29, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

Nat'l Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE), Feb. 3-4, Tampa, FL

Sessions by: Intel, Corning, Toyota, TECO Energy, Broward County Schools, Burger King, SAS, Gulf Power/Southern Company, Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), Univ. of Pittsburgh Medical Center, U.S. Xpress, PSEG, Mayo Clinic, University of Rochester, Pinellas County, CEO Roundtable on Cancer, City of Clearwater, C-Change, Manatee County...and more. Satisfaction guaranteed...or your registration refunded. Best Value in Health Benefits Continuing Education (HBCE) - highest quality and registration only $295 - $345. SHRM credits. www.HBCE.com

[Guidance Overview]
Technical Correction Clarification of Mental Health Parity Effective Date for Plans Maintained Under Collective Bargaining Agreements

Excerpt: "The original legislation included an ambiguous provision that could have been interpreted to require some collectively bargained plans to comply with the expanded mental health parity provisions on January 1, 2009 -- even before the effective date for non-collectively bargained plans. This technical correction clears up confusion by providing that the earliest compliance date for plans maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement is January 1, 2010. (Of course, such plans may have a later effective date based on the termination of the longest-running collective bargaining agreement under which the group health plan is maintained.)" (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview]
HHS Guidance on Electronic Exchange of Individually Identifiable Health Information in a Networked Environment

Excerpt: "Entities currently using or considering the use of [Health Information Organizations (HIOs)] should review this guidance (particularly the fact sheets) carefully, as they provide very detailed and helpful information on how to comply with HIPAA's requirements when HIOs are in the mix." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview]
Date Employee on Leave of Absence Lost Coverage Could Not Be Determined Without Trial

Excerpt: "To reduce the risk of COBRA liability, employers are well-advised to adopt and consistently administer policies regarding the status of employees who are unable to return to work after injury or illness. Such policies should address, among other things, when active health coverage terminates, when COBRA will be offered, whether the employee will receive some period of employer-paid coverage, and how that coverage will interact with COBRA." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview]
Much-Anticipated Washington, DC, Sick and Safe Leave Regulations Released
Excerpt: "More than a month after DC's paid sick and safe leave law took effect Nov. 13, regulators have issued guidance on how to apply the mandate. The law requires employers to give eligible employees working in DC paid leave for specific absences, including those related to physical or mental illness, preventive care, or domestic violence." (Mercer LLC)


A Profile of the Health Sector in the United States (PDF)
15 pages. Excerpt: "This paper will provide a brief overview of the public and private sector programs in the U.S. health sector and the populations they serve and will describe policy proposals being considered to cover the uninsured through market-based solutions." (Galen Institute)


Charges and Reimbursements for Vaccines Vary Widely, Study Finds
Excerpt: "A study published in this month's Pediatrics journal found that there was an exceedingly wide variation not only in what pediatricians and family practitioners paid for vaccines, but also in the reimbursements they received from insurers and managed care organizations." (Morning Edition via National Public Radio)


Health Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts: Estimates from 2008 Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey
Excerpt: "Nearly all Massachusetts residents had health insurance coverage in 2008. Only 2.6% were uninsured this past summer, when the 2008 Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey (HIS) was conducted.' (Urban Institute)


Health Care That Puts a Computer on the Team
Excerpt: "Across the national spectrum of health care politics there is broad agreement that moving patient records into the computer age, the way [some] health systems have already done, is essential to improving care and curbing costs. A paper record is a passive, historical document. An electronic health record can be a vibrant tool that reminds and advises doctors. It can hold information on a patient's visits, treatments and conditions, going back years, even decades. It can be summoned with a mouse click, not hidden in a file drawer in a remote location and thus useless in medical emergencies." (The New York Times; free registration required)


[Opinion]
Local Democracy's Struggle with ERISA Preemption

Excerpt: "San Francisco is now locked in a struggle with business over whether subnational governments can mandate that employers provide their employees with health care benefits. The employers are claiming that ERISA preempts the mandate, and their argument illustrates the insidiously anti-democratic nature of preemption arguments. As a matter of policy, I tend to agree that funding public benefits like health care through mandates on employers is foolish. Such a finance mechanism interferes with the mobility of labor and discourages job creation." (PrawfsBlawg)


[Opinion]
Advice for Obama: Health Care With a Few Bucks Left Over

Excerpt: "The only truly promising way to save money is to change the way health care is organized and delivered. In the United States, 85 percent of doctors work in small, fee-for-service practices. Many of these doctors are very good and hard-working. But they are autonomous, not members of teams. They do not systematically share information with one another. They are unable and unwilling to be held accountable for the quality and cost of the care they deliver. The employment-based health insurance system has created this situation by not encouraging people to consider the value for their money when they choose doctors." (The New York Times; free registration required)



EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com (Sponsor)

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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Connecticut Insurers Must Extend Equal Rights to Same-Sex Spouses
Excerpt: "Connecticut insurers must provide the same rights and coverage for same-sex spouses as they do for opposite-sex spouses effective Oct. 28, according to a state regulatory bulletin (IC-21). The rights extend to all lawful same-sex spouses, whether married in Connecticut or in another jurisdiction that authorizes same-sex marriage." (Mercer LLC)


CEO Pay Moves Toward Stock Compensation
Excerpt: "CEO pay moved toward stock compensation and away from cash and stock options, but median cash compensation increased in several industries, according to The Conference Board's Top Executive Compensation report. In the financial services category, the average percent of total compensation delivered in non-equity incentives fell to 21.6% from 24.2%. The data for the report were compiled from proxy statement tables filed as of June 2008 for fiscal year 2007." (Pensions & Investments via Financial Week)


What Will Human Resources Look Like a Decade from Now?
Excerpt: "As it did in 1998, Workforce Management has asked a group of HR executives and thought leaders to make their best predictions." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Employers Reviewing Severance Plans
Excerpt: "As the recession continues to grip the nation, more employers are laying off -- or making plans to lay off -- employees. The coming year will bring more of the same, experts say, so it's a good time now for HR leaders to scrutinize their severance policies." (Human Resource Executive Online)


In Trying Times, HR Must 'Step Up to the Plate'
Excerpt: "With the United States entering year two of a recession and companies facing massive layoffs nationwide, businesses are looking within their HR departments for all kinds of assistance -- and not just the administrative kind. According to China Miner Gorman, Chief Operating Officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 'The expectation for HR to step up to the plate with strategic business solutions is increasing, and HR is looked to more and more for bottom-line strategies.' Gorman was speaking as moderator of the Dec. 16, 2008, 'HR as Strategic Business Partner' panel discussion sponsored by Lee Hecht Harrison, a global provider of integrated human capital solutions. The program held in Vienna, Va., featured as panelists senior HR executives from SAIC, AOL and Sodexo." (Society of Human Resource Management)


Caterpillar to Lower Top Executives' Incentive Compensation
Excerpt: "If the compensation reduction measures announced Monday, December 22, were applied to all forms of executive pay acknowledged in the proxy -- including stock and option grants -- the top officers at Caterpillar could see their total take-home lowered by more than $25 million next year." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Americans Baffled by Finance, According to Survey
Excerpt: "Whether it's counting reindeer or purchasing Christmas gifts, most Americans lack the math skills and financial savvy they need for the holiday season -- and the rest of the year, according to a survey from the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy." (Investment News; free registration required)


[Opinion]
UAW Will Fight Any Concessions on Wages and Benefits

Excerpt: "The government gave the Big Three a $17.3 billion bailout based on the idea that both management and the unions would make concessions. Now the UAW says no thanks. Can we have our money back?" (Investor's Business Daily)


[Opinion]
A Special Holiday Package

Excerpt: "Here's a couple of things to help get you in the mood for the holidays . . . ." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2009 RMD Relief Enacted! Are You Ready?
Nationwide on January 6, 2009
presented by Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC

RMD Waiver, Technical Corrections, and Other Legislative Changes
Nationwide on January 8, 2009
presented by Ascensus

RMD Waiver, Technical Corrections, and Other Legislative Changes
Nationwide on January 14, 2009
presented by Ascensus



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

2008 401k Plan Eligibility Survey Released
Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA)

Multiemployer Withdrawal Liability - Final Rule
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

U.S. Department Of Labor Sues Defunct Atlanta Software Consulting Company To Protect 401(k) Plan Participants
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Labor Department Sues President Of Emergency Consultants Inc. To Recover 401(k) Assets
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Labor Department Seeks Federal Court Judgment Ordering Distribution Of 401(k) Assets Of Shaker Heights, Ohio Business
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Labor Department Sues To Recover Retirement Assets For 401(k) Participants Of Defunct San Jose, Calif., Company
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Optimatum Solution Saved Employers on Average $1086.00 per Employee in 2008 Without Shifting Costs
Optimatum Group LLC



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401(k) Wholesaler
for Howard Simon & Associates, Inc.
in IL

Exclusive Care Plan Manager
for County of Riverside
in CA

Assistant Manager, Health Plan Operations
for Ralcorp Holdings, Inc.
in MO

Client Relationship Manager
for Acropolis Investment Management, LLC
in MO

DC / 401(k) Compliance Consultant
for The Savitz Organization
in DE, NJ, PA




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