What's New

What's New - February 2003

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As a research site, EBRI Online maintains old listings in the “What’s New” page, even though some of the older links may no longer function.  If you reach a bad link, go back to the main site by deleting everything after “.com” or “.org” or “.net” in the address.  Since we maintain www.ebri.org as a research and education resource, and not current news, we hope you will understand our policy and the use for which it is maintained.

What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI at Healthcare Cost Conference:  EBRI will be participating in the Fourth Annual U.S. Employers Summit and Expo on Healthcare Costs March 26-28 in Arlington, VA, with Dallas Salisbury delivering a keynote presentation March 27.   Other EBRI staff, including Paul Fronstin, and Ray Werntz of the Consumer Health Education Council, will lead meetings on March 26 and March 28, respectively.  To register for this conference, call (516) 594-3000 or visit www.ibfconferences.com on the Internet.   Mention EBRI when you register in order to receive a special discount off the registration fee.

New EBRI 401(k) Plan Research: The March 2003 EBRI Issue Brief  "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2001" examines asset allocation, account balance, and loan activity of a large and representative group of 401(k) plan participants as of year-end 2001 using data gathered by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) in their collaborative effort known as the EBRI/ICI Participant-Directed Retirement Plan Data Collection Project.

Retiree Health Benefits:  The February 2003 EBRI Issue Brief addresses
"Retiree Health Benefits: Savings Needed to Fund Health Care in Retirement." 

Press Release | Fulltext of the Issue Brief | Retiree Health Calculator

Retirees With Pension Income and Characteristics of Their Former Job: 
The February EBRI Notes executive summary

National Health Care Expenditures, 2001
The February 2003 Facts from EBRI

The Small Employer Health Benefits Survey (SEHBS)

Results of the Massachusetts Future Retirement Income Assessment Project

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EBRI Research Findings for 2002:

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What's new in employee benefits:

  • HR News Online -- a daily update from the Society for Human Resource Management

Health and Welfare

Human Resources

Retirement

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The following items have been added to the General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Federal Employees' Health Plans:   Premium Growth and OPM's Role in Negotiating Benefits.  GAO-03-236, December 31, 2002.  Click here for Highlights of report.

Social Security Reform: Analysis of Reform Models Developed by the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security.   GAO-03-310, January 15, 2003.  Click here for highlights of   report.

Federal Employees Health Benefits: Effects of Using Pharmacy Benefit Managers on Health Plans, Enrollees, and Pharmacies.  GAO-03-196, January 10, 2003.  Highlights of report.

        If a title link above no longer works, click here for the Find GAO Reports page and search for the report by report number,  title, abstract, agency/organization names, or subject terms.   Searches for reports can also be conducted in the General Accounting Office (GAO) Reports Online via GPO Access database.

 If your computer does not already have the free Adobe Acrobat viewer software to read PDF files, click here for the one-time download necessary to read PDF publications.

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has established a National Call Center to serve its customers.  By calling 1-866-4-USA-DOL, America's employees and employers can find answers to questions on a range of employment issues.  This toll-free service offers live operator assistance and is a central access point for all DOL services and programs.  It serves both English and Spanish speaking callers.  The Call Center can assist workers and employers with questions about job loss, business closures, pay and leave, workplace injuries, safety and health, pension and health benefits, and reemployment rights for reservists.

 Additional Department of Labor toll-free numbers to call for questions regarding specific issues are listed below:

  •  1-877-US-2JOBS     Job Loss, Layoffs, Business Closures, Unemployment Benefits and Job Training

  •  1-866-4-US-WAGE     Pay, Overtime, Leave and Child Labor

  •  1-800-321-OSHA     Workplace Safety and Health

  •  1-877-889-5627     TTY number for all Department of Labor Questions

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[2/26/03] The purpose of the Lifetime Savings Account Web Site is to provide technical and planning information on the proposed Lifetime Savings Accounts to practitioners and consumers.

[2/26/03]  According to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), the EBRI/ICI Participant-Directed Retirement Plan Data Collection Project is the most comprehensive database on participants in 401(k) plans.  Click here for the ICI version of the newest report from  that database.

[2/26/03]  The January 2003 National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, 2000 is available online in fulltext from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[2/26/03]   Mercer Human Resource Consulting issued a press release February 20 titled “Plan Sponsors Report Positive Fourth-Quarter Results,” which includes key findings from Mercer Investment Consulting’s most recent quarterly survey titled Summary Performance of US Institutional Portfolios.

[2/26/03]  The American Hospital Association issued a press release February 19 titled “Rising Demand, Increasing Costs of Caring Fuel Hospital Spending,” which includes key findings from a report titled Cost of Caring: Key Drivers of Growth and Spending on Hospital Care, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for AHA and the Federation of American Hospitals.

[2/26/03]  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality issued a press release February 20 titled “AHRQ Launches New Web-Based Quality Measures Resource,” to be known as the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse (NQMC). The NQMC “is a public repository for evidence-based quality measures and measure sets.” Click here for further information about the NQMC.

[2/26/03]  On February 13 the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations held a hearing titled "The Pension Security Act: New Pension Protections to Safeguard the Retirement Savings of American Workers."  A witness list with links to testimonies has been posted.

[2/24/03]  Affordable Assisted Living: Surveying the Possibilities, a recent report prepared for Volunteers of America by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, discusses policy options and strategies for dealing with the high costs of assisted living facilities.

[2/24/03]  A Strong Financial Corporation February 13 press release, “Survey Finds Majority of Americans Would Use Proposed Savings Accounts to Save More,” includes key findings from the recent survey.

[2/24/03]  The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a joint hearing February 11 with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee titled “Patient Access Crisis: The Role of Medical Litigation.”  Click here for the full witness list with links to testimonies.

[2/24/03]  On January 7 Rep. Judy Biggert introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.35, Family and Medical Leave Clarification Act.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[2/24/03]  The Pensions Landscape, a reference manual by Chris Curry and Alison O’Connell, was published this month by the the Pensions Policy Institute.  It provides an analysis of the prospects for pension provision in the United Kingdom.

[2/24/03]   A February 7 eAlert from Aon Consulting titled “President’s Legislative Agenda Includes Surprising Savings Proposal” summarizes the retirement and health proposals and assesses their outlook in the early stage of the 108th Congress.

[2/24/03]  The U.S. Census Bureau has announced the availability of the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2002

[2/24/03]  The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business held a hearing February 5 titled “The Small Business Healthcare Crisis: Possible Solutions.”   U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao was among the witnesses testifying.  Click here for a complete list of witnesses with links to testimonies.

[2/24/03]  On February 5 U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood’s office issued a press release titled “Norwood Introduces the Patient Protection & ERISA Clarification Acts.”

[2/24/03]  The International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) has posted Top Five Benefit Priorities for 2003, results of a survey which was conducted by ISCEBS and Deloitte & Touche LLP.

[2/24/03]  On February 5 Sen. Christopher Dodd introduced in the U.S. Senate S.304, Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[2/24/03]  Sen. Judd Gregg introduced in the U.S. Senate February 5, S.317, Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[2/24/03]  The Society for Human Resource Management issued a press release February 3 titled “Ten Years of FMLA; Employers Voluntarily Going Beyond FMLA, But Half Feel Required to Grant Leave for Illegitimate Reasons,” which includes key findings from a recent survey of human resource professionals on the Family and Medical Leave Act.

[2/24/03]  KaiserNetwork.org has posted a HealthCast titled “Health Care for the Uninsured: How Much Do We Already Spend and Who Pays?” for a February 12 briefing co-sponsored by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and Health Affairs.  Links have been provided to a variety of materials, which include an agenda, a media advisory, a press release, a slide presentation, speaker biographies, and a transcript for the event.

[2/24/03]  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has posted a report titled Proposed "Savings Incentives" Would Cause Revenue Hemorrhage in Future Decades by Robert Greenstein and Joel Friedman.

[2/24/03]  The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans has announced the availability of Retiree Medical Benefits in the Multiemployer Sector: Meeting the Challenge.

[2/24/03]  Greenwich Associates issued a press release February 10 titled “U.S. Pension Plans Bundle To Cut Costs.” [Note: To access the release, scroll down to the title and click on “More...”]

[2/24/03]  The cover story featured in the February 2003 issue of PlanSponsor  is titled “Together at Last! Retirement Outsourcing Becomes a Reality.”

[2/13/03]   According to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, A “Perfect Storm” of Circumstances Batters Corporate Pension Plans, in the area of defined benefit pension accounting issues.

[2/13/03]  The Council of Economic Advisers has posted the Economic Report of the President Together with the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers, transmitted to the Congress February 2003.

[2/13/03]  On February 7 Health Affairs posted a Web exclusive titled “Health Spending Projections for 2002-2012,” by Stephen Heffler et al.

[2/13/03]  Hewitt Associates issued a press release February 4 titled “Enrolling Online for Benefits Continues To Be Number One Choice for U.S. Employees,” which includes key findings from recent research conducted by Hewitt.

[2/13/03]  The Kaiser Family Foundation has issued a news release titled Compendium of Cultural Competence Initiatives in Health Care, which provides an overview of its report of the same title.

[2/13/03]  On February 5 Rep. Charlie Norwood introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.597, “To amend the Public Health Service Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to protect consumers in managed care plans and other health coverage.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[2/13/03]  Mercer Investment Consulting issued a press release February 6 titled “Retirement Assets Decline As Equity Losses Take Their Toll; Risk Moves Front and Center,” which includes highlights from its fourth-quarter 2002 Defined Contribution Universe Summary.

[2/7/03]   Rep. John Conyers, Jr., plans to introduce in the U.S. House of Representatives the United States National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act), “a bill to provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States residents, and for other purposes."

[2/7/03]  On January 28, Rep. Gene Green introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.414, Life Insurance Employee Notification Act.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[2/7/03]  The Society of Actuaries has posted a paper titled “Reinventing Pension Actuarial Science” by Lawrence N. Bader and Jeremy Gold.

[2/7/03]  The American Academy of Actuaries has posted an October 2002 Issue Brief titled “Raising the Retirement Age for Social Security.”

[2/4/03]  Click here for Retirement Plan Savings Provisions, from the Treasury Department's General Explanations of the Administration's 2004 Revenue Proposals -- excerpted from the 2004 "blue book" by BenefitsLink.

[2/4/02]  The U.S. Census Bureau released detailed tables for Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 1999.

[2/4/03]  The American Benefits Council has prepared charts summarizing President Bush’s retirement savings proposals and showing the effect of these proposals on existing retirement savings vehicles, as follows:

[2/4/03]  On January 7 Sen. Thomas Daschle introduced in the U.S. Senate S.9, Pension Protection and Expansion Act of 2003.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[2/4/03]  Rep. Earl Pomeroy introduced January 31 in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.518, Retirement Account Portability Improvement Act of 2003.   A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[2/3/03]  The fiscal year 2004 Budget of the U.S. Government was transmitted to the U.S. Congress February 3, 2003.  It covers the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2003.

[2/1/03]  The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a press release January 31 -- “President’s Budget Proposes Bold Tax-Free Savings and Retirement Security Opportunities for All Americans” on proposed Lifetime Savings Accounts (LSAs), Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs), and Employer Retirement Savings Accounts (ERSAs).

[2/1/03]   The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) reported in a January 30 press release “PBGC Releases Fiscal Year 2002 Financial Results,” which includes highlights from its 2002 Annual Report.

[2/1/03]   The American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) released a report January 21 titled The Growing Crisis in Access to Medical Care: Causes and Remedies. Click here for the executive summary.

[2/1/03]  The Urban Institute has made available a June 2002 discussion paper by John Holahan titled Variations among States in Health Insurance Coverage and Medical Expenditures: How Much Is Too Much?

[12/1/03]  The 529 Plans Directory Website has been launched to provide information about 529 college savings plans.

[2/1/03]  PlanAnalytics provides the Search529 Website which allows registered advisors to compare 529 plans offered around the country by generating custom comparisons of plan features.  The new service, free to advisors, catalogs more than 70 state-sponsored 529 plans.

[2/1/03]  The following document has been added to the Congressional Budget Office site: Letter to the Honorable Jim Nussle regarding the Proposal to Reduce Payments by the Postal Service to the Civil Service Retirement System.

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Updated 2/28/03