What's New - June 2005

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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:

          Publications:

June 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "The Muskegon Access Health 'Three-Share' Plan: A Case History"

June 2005 EBRI Notes - "“The Impact of Immigration on Health Coverage in the United States”"


Salisbury Testimony on Retirement Policy: EBRI President Dallas Salisbury testified May 19 before the House Ways and Means Committee at a hearing on retirement policy challenges and opportunities. Press release | Full testimony

Salisbury Wins PLANSPONSOR Award -- EBRI President and CEO Dallas Salisbury has received a first-ever lifetime achievement award from PLANSPONSOR magazine, a leading publication on retirement issues. Press release

New Social Security Research From EBRI -- A far greater portion of all current and future Americans would have a higher initial retiree benefit from the current Social Security program than from an individual account plan if the existing $90,000 wage cap was eliminated and all local, state, and federal workers were brought into the program to fill the projected funding deficit, a new EBRI analysis of various Social Security options shows.  But the study also shows that more of today’s younger workers would have a higher initial retiree benefit from an individual account plan than if nothing is done to reform the currently projected underfunded program. Press Release. Futher information can be found in this supplemental material

Research findings from EBRI's Social Security Research Program [includes Information and Resources for Reporters]

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits - This section of EBRI's Web site is designed to answer basic questions about major benefit issues and trends. It provides short, graphical answers, with links to the detailed data underlying the figure. In addition, references are provided to the relevant EBRI publication.


EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:

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What's new in employee benefits:

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

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

Reports
Highlights of a GAO Forum: The Future of the Defined Benefit System and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. GAO-05-578SP, June 2005.  Highlights

Private Pensions: Government Actions Could Improve the Timeliness and Content of Form 5500 Pension Information. GAO-05-491, June 3.  Highlights

Testimonies
Social Security Reform: Considerations for Individual Account Design, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security sssues, before the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-05-847T, June 23.   Highlights

Social Security: Coverage of Public Employees and Implications for Reform, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-05-786T, June 9.  Highlights

Private Pensions: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and Long-Term Budgetary Challenges, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the House Committee on the Budget. GAO-05-772T, June 9.  Highlights

Employee Benefits Security Administration: Improvements Have Been Made to Pension Enforcement Program but Significant Challenges Remain, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-05-784T, June 9.  Highlights

Private Pensions: Revision of Defined Benefit Pension Plan Funding Rules Is an Essential Component of Comprehensive Pension Reform, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-05-794T, June 7.  Highlights

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 Government Accountability 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.


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


The Internal Revenue Service has announced that technical or procedural questions relating to retirement plans are answered at the EP Customer Account Services site.  Answers to many questions may already be available under Frequently Asked Questions about Retirement Plans.  If not:

Call:   TE/GE Customer Account Services at (877) 829-5500 (toll-free number).
            The call center is open 8:00am to 6:30pm Eastern Time.

Write:   Internal Revenue Service
               TE/GE Division, Customer Service
               P.O. Box 2508
               Cincinnati, OH 45201

Email:   RetirementPlanQuestions@irs.gov
               Note: All questions submitted via e-mail must be responded to via telephone,
               so please remember to include your phone number in your message.


[6/23/05]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "Tracking Health Care Costs: Declining Growth Trend Pauses In 2004"

[6/23/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Consumer-Driven Health May Be Tastiest as a One-Dish Meal"

[6/23/05]  AcademyHealth Issue Brief:  "Health Savings Accounts as a Tool for Market Change"

[6/23/05]  American Academy of Actuaries:  Retirement Security: Public Perceptions and Misperceptions [briefing paper]

[6/23/05]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Recent Funding and Sponsorship Trends Among the FORTUNE 1000"

[6/23/05]  HSBC:  The Future of Retirement in a World of Rising Life Expectancies: Attitudes Towards Ageing and Retirement - A Study Across 10 Countries and Territories

[6/23/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  Seventh in a Series of Subcommittee Hearings on Protecting and Strengthening Social Security

[6/23/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  Sixth in a Series of Subcommittee Hearings on Protecting and Strengthening Social Security

[6/17/05]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  "IRS Issues New Guidance on HRA Contributions and Distributions"

[6/17/05]  Towers Perrin Monitor:  "Some Employers Still Undecided on a Prescription Drug Strategy for Retirees"

[6/17/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Proposed Pension Reporting Changes Could Increase Plan Sponsor Woes"

[6/17/05]  American Benefits Council:  Retirement Savings and Security Act of 2005: Section by Section Explanation by U.S. Senators Gordon H. Smith and Kent Conrad

[6/17/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  Fifth in a Series of Subcommittee Hearings on Protecting and Strengthening Social Security

[6/17/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  Fourth in a Series of Subcommittee Hearings on Protecting and Strengthening Social Security

[6/17/05]  Democratic Policy Committee Special Report:  President Bush’s Social Security Privatization Plan: Benefit Cuts, Red Tape, and Increased Costs for Small Businesses

[6/16/05]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:   Legislative Hearing on: H.R.2830, The Pension Protection ActPress Release

[6/16/05]  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:  Report and Recommendations Pursuant to Section 401(c) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 On Arrangements with Off-Balance Sheet Implications, Special Purpose Entities, and Transparency of Filings by Issuers

[6/16/05]  BenefitNews.com:  "Changes to Comply with Sarbanes-Oxley Prove Costly"

[6/16/05]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Hybrid Plan Legislation Introduced"

[6/16/05]  H.R.2831, Pension Preservation and Portability Act of 2005:  “To amend title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make improvements in benefit accrual standards.”   Bill Summary & Status Information

[6/16/05]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  Mercer Study: S&P 500 Pension Costs Unchanged Despite Improved Investment Performance [registration may be required]

[6/15/05]  Health Affairs:  "Insured But Not Protected? How Many Adults Are Underinsured?"

[6/15/05]  McKinsey & Company:  Consumer-Directed Health Plan Report -- Early Evidence Is Promising

[6/15/05]  Milliman, Inc.:  "IRS Proposes Rules on Retirement Plan Benefits and Contributions"

[6/15/05]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Study Shows More Companies Putting 401(k) Plans on Autopilot

[6/15/05]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:   Pension Protection Act: Fact SheetPress ReleaseH.R.2830: Bill Summary & Status Information.

[6/15/05]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   "Mandatory Social Security Coverage of State and Local Workers: A Perennial Hot Button"

[6/10/05]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings; Request for Information [published in the Federal Register, June 9, 2005]

[6/10/05]  Congressional Budget Office Testimony:  Estimating the Costs of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [given before the U.S. House Committee on the Budget, June 9, 2005]

[6/10/05]  Business Insurance:  "Pension Funding Reforms Introduced in House"

[6/10/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "States Continue as Mainstay for DB Pensions"

[6/10/05]  Business Insurance:  "HMOs Ask for 2006 Rate Hikes Averaging 12.4%"

[6/10/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Evidence-based Medicine Success Story: Printer Holds Yearly Medical Cost Increases to 4%"

[6/9/05]  California HealthCare Foundation:  “Consumer-Directed" Health Plans: Implications for Health Care Quality and Cost [executive summary]

[6/9/05]  Hewitt Associates:  New FSA Extension Creates Issue for HSA Participants

[6/9/05]  Families USA:  Paying a Premium: The Added Cost of Care for the Uninsured [Overview]  Full Report

[6/9/05]  American Benefits Council:  Summary of the Boehner Pension Reform Bill, June 8, 2005

[6/8/05]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance [Hearing]:  Preventing the Next Pension Collapse: Lessons from the United Airlines Case

[6/8/05]  U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions [Hearing]:  A Pension Double Header: Reforming Hybrid and Multi-Employer Pension Plans

[6/8/05]  Business Insurance:  "Grassley to Back Airline Pension Funding Extension"

[6/8/05]  Towers Perrin:  A Towers Perrin Proposal for Pension Funding Reform: Part II [white paper]

[6/8/05]  The Segal Company Public Sector Letter:   "New Coverage Choices and Cost-Management Options: Developments Affecting Public Sector Prescription Drug Plans"

[6/8/05]  The Segal Company:  The Reimportation Controversy

[6/7/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Countdown to the New HIPAA Requirements - What the Final Portability Regs Mean for Your Plan"

[6/7/05]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Medicare Modernization Act: Creditable Coverage Guidances

[6/7/05]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Secretary Leavitt Takes New Steps to Advance Health IT

[6/7/05]  Business Week Online:  "Sinkhole! How Public Pension Promises Are Draining State and City Budgets"

[6/7/05]  Business Insurance:  "U.K. Pension Proposal Requires Employee Input"

[6/7/05]  Social Security Bulletin:  "Design and Implementation Issues in Swedish Individual Pension Accounts"

[6/6/05]  Hewitt Associates:  Complimentary Teleconference, 6/22/05:  Putting the 401(k) Plan on Autopilot: 2005 Trends and Experience

[6/6/05]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Key Dates for Medicare Part D"

[6/6/05]  Monthly Labor Review:  "Real Compensation, 1979 to 2003: Analysis from Several Data Sources"

[6/6/05]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   "Chilean Pension Reform: The Good, The Bad, and The In Between"

[6/3/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Part D Primer: Employers Opt for Medicare Subsidy"

[6/3/05]  The Segal Company Executive Letter:   "Overview of HSA Options"

[6/3/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Benefit Plan Design for an Increasingly Complex Workforce"

[6/3/05]  The Segal Company Bulletin:  “'Use-it-or-Lose-it' Rule for FSAs Is Relaxed Slightly"

[6/3/05]  The Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Catch-Up Contributions in 2004: Plan Sponsor and Participant Adoption

[6/3/05]  Association of Consulting Actuaries:  UK Pension Trends Survey Report…2 -- Trends in: Scheme Provision, Contributions and Scheme Deficits

[6/2/05]  Hay Group:  Containing Rising Medical Costs: A Pay-for-Performance Wellness Strategy [WorldatWork International Conference, May 24, 2005]

[6/2/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Legal Questions, Cost Inhibit Automatic Enrollment"

[6/2/05]  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:  Selecting and Monitoring Pension Consultants: Tips for Plan Fiduciaries

[6/2/05]  U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 108th Congress

[6/2/05]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  President’s Savings Proposals Likely to Swell Long-Term Deficits, Reduce National Saving, and Primarily Benefit Those with Substantial Wealth [Revised May 25, 2005]

[6/2/05]  Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief:   "Social Security Price Indexing Proposal Means Benefit Cuts for Workers"

[6/2/05]  Fidelity Investments:  The Case for Investing in Fixed Income [white paper on investing in bonds]

[6/1/05]  Milliman, Inc.:  Milliman Medical Index 2005

[6/1/05]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  Number of Employers Offering Health Savings Accounts Will More Than Quadruple in 2006, According to Mellon Survey

[6/1/05]  HR Policy Association:  New Accounting Rules Threaten Public Sector Retiree Health Programs

[6/1/05]  National Association of Health Underwriters:  Healthcare Coverage Options Database [new on-line tool]

[6/1/05]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Pension Insurance Data Book 2004

[6/1/05]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Limitations on Benefits and Contributions Under Qualified Plans; Proposed Rule [published in the Federal Register, 5/31/05]

[6/1/05]  Prudential Financial:  Roadblocks to Retirement: A Report on What Happens When Living Life Today Gets in the Way of Financial Security Tomorrow

[6/1/05]  Defined Contribution News:  "DoL Seeks to Bolster 401(k)s with Group Annuities"