What's New

What's New - February 2005

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What's new at EBRI this month:


February 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "Controlling Health Costs and Improving Health Care Quality for Retirees"

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:


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:

Federal Thrift Savings Plan: Customer Service Practices Adopted by Private Sector Plan Managers Should Be Considered. GAO-05-38, January 18.  Highlights

Retiree Health Benefits: Options for Employment-Based Prescription Drug Benefits Under the Medicare Modernization Act. GAO-05-205, February 14.  Highlights

Special Publications
21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal Government. GAO-05-325SP, February 2005

Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today [presentation by David M. Walker, February 10, 2005, to The Heritage Foundation]

21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal Government, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-05-352T, February 16.

Long-Term Fiscal Issues: Increasing Transparency and Reexamining the Base of the Federal Budget, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on the Budget. GAO-05-317T, February 8.

Long-Term Fiscal Issues: The Need for Social Security Reform, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the House Committee on the Budget. GAO-05-318T, February 9.  Highlights

Social Security: Long-Term Challenges Warrant Early Action, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-05-303T, February 3.

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.

[2/28/05]  Kaiser HealthPoll Report:  "Views on Prescription Drugs and the Pharmaceutical Industry"

[2/28/05]  AARP:  Effectiveness & Safety of Prescription Drugs [new feature].  Rx Watchdog Report

[2/28/05]  The Segal Company Bulletin:  "Becoming a Prescription Drug Plan Sponsor under the Medicare Modernization Act"

[2/25/05]  The White House:  Economic Report of the President: Transmitted to the Congress February 2005: Together with the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers

[2/25/05]  American Medical News:  "Cost Cutting Gets Creative: How Managed Care Works in 2005"

[2/25/05]  AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Brief:   "How Earnings and Financial Risk Affect Private Accounts in Social Security Reform Proposals"

[2/25/05]  CFO Magazine:  "Companies Are Making Strategic Use of 401(k) Matching Contributions, but Are They Toying with Their Employees’ Retirement?"

[2/24/05]  Health Affairs:  "U.S. Health Spending Projections for 2004-2014"

[2/24/05]  The Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Issues & Answers:  "The Health Care Safety Net We Want and Need"

[2/24/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Communication Plays Critical Role in Improving Retention Power of Health Benefits

[2/24/05]  Prudential Financial:  Fourth Annual Workplace Report on Retirement Planning: How Prepared Are America’s Older Workers to Generate a Retirement “Paycheck”?

[2/23/05]  U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Economic Policy:  Creating a Corporate Bond Spot Yield Curve for Pension Discounting [white paper]

[2/23/05]  Merrill Lynch:  The New Retirement Survey” from Merrill Lynch Reveals How Baby Boomers Will Transform Retirement

[2/23/05]  U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  U.S. Chamber Joins Launch of Pension Coalition -- Stakeholders to Address Concerns around Retirement Security

[2/23/05]  BenefitNews.com:  "Survey Leads to New Benefit Benchmarking Capabilities"

[2/22/05]  The Segal Company Bulletin:  "Final Regulations Implement the New Medicare Rx Benefit"

[2/22/05]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Health Savings Accounts Frequently Asked Questions [updated and expanded site on HSAs]

[2/22/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Consumerism May Suffer from Communication Breakdown"

[2/22/05]  S.306, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2005: Bill Summary & Status Information

[2/22/05]  Mellon For Your Information:  "IRS Final Rules Allow Defined Contribution Plans To Eliminate Optional Forms of Distribution Without Notification"

[2/22/05]  Business Insurance:  "Chao, Benefits Council At Odds Over Pension Funding"

[2/18/05]  IRS Employee Plans News:  "Plan Amendments to Comply with New Automatic Rollover Provisions"

[2/18/05]  American Benefits Council:  Funding Our Future: A Safe and Sound Approach to Defined Benefit Pension Plan Funding Reform

[2/18/05]  Fidelity Investments:  Fidelity Research Shows Majority of Americans Expect to Fare Better Financially in Retirement Than Their Parents

[2/18/05]  Economic Policy Institute Economic Snapshot:   "Removing the Social Security Earnings Cap Virtually Eliminates Funding Gap"

[2/17/05]  California Public Employees’ Retirement System:   CalPERS Board Votes to Oppose Defined Contribution Legislation

[2/17/05]  AARP:  Public Attitudes Toward Social Security and Private Accounts

[2/17/05]  The Christian Science Monitor:  "American Retirement Increasingly Rides the Market"

[2/17/05]  National Underwriter:  "Bill Could Cut Lifetime Annuity Taxes"

[2/16/05]  The Hill:  "Treasury Experts Split on Social Security Plan"

[2/16/05]  H.R.440, “To amend title II of the Social Security Act to provide for individual security accounts funded by employee and employer Social Security payroll deductions, to extend the solvency of the old-age, survivors, and disability insurance program, and for other purposes”:  Bill Summary & Status Information

[2/16/05]  Investment Company Institute Fundamentals:   "IRA Ownership in 2004"

[2/15/05]  Investment Company Institute Perspective:   "The Individual Retirement Account at Age 30: A Retrospective"

[2/15/05]  Business Week Online:  "Social Security: Three New Ideas"

[2/14/05]  American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:   "Medicare: Next Steps"

[2/14/05]  S.309, “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for the disposition of unused health benefits in cafeteria plans and flexible spending arrangements”:  Bill Summary & Status Information

[2/14/05]  Urban Institute:  Understanding Expenditure Patterns in Retirement

[2/11/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide Insider:  "Key Pension Proposals Included in Bush Budget"

[2/11/05]  American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:   "Principles of Pension Funding Reform for Multiemployer Plans"

[2/10/05]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  2004 Mercer US National Employer-Sponsored Health Plans Survey - Overview

[2/10/05]  Hewitt Associates:  More Employees Enroll in Consumer-Driven Plans for 2005 -- Interest in Health Savings and Flexible Spending Accounts Remains Low

[2/10/05]  Business Insurance:  "Bush Budget Would Close Gap in Coverage Tax Credit"

[2/10/05]  Mellon For Your Information:  "After a Long Hiatus, IRS Proposes 403(b) Regulations"

[2/10/05]  U.S. House Committee on the Budget:  Social Security: Defining the Problem [Hearing held 2/9/05]

[2/10/05]  Economic Policy Institute Snapshot:   "Proposed Social Security Price Indexing Would Slash Benefits"

[2/8/05]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Administration’s Proposal for Pension Reform

[2/8/05]  Mellon NewsFlash:  "Bush Administration Proposal Expected to Radically Change Pension Funding"

[2/8/05]  Business Insurance:  "Bush Budget Calls for Ban on Shutdown Pension Benefits"

[2/8/05]  The White House:  Strengthening Social Security for the 21st Century

[2/8/05]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Just the Facts on Retirement Issues:  "What Does Price Indexing Mean for Social Security Benefits?"

[2/8/05]  The Century Foundation:  What the President Didn’t Say about Social Security [Commentary]

[2/7/05]  U.S. Office of Management & Budget:  Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2006

[2/7/05]  The New York Times:  "Court Blocks Rule Change on Retiree Health Care" [registration may be required]

[2/7/05]  Aon Consulting ALERT:  "New Automatic Rollover Requirement -- What to Do NOW"

[2/7/05]  The Christian Science Monitor:  "Wall Street Optimistic Yet Pragmatic on Social Security"

[2/7/05]  The San Francisco Chronicle:  "Details Reveal Drawbacks of Social Security Investment Plan"

[2/4/05]  Congressional Budget Office:  Statement of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director, CBO, on The Future of Social Security before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, February 3, 2005

[2/4/05]  Workforce Management:  "Social Security Reform Could Set 401(k) Participation Back"

[2/4/05]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  Domestic Partner Benefit Coverage Increasing, According to Mellon Survey

[2/4/05]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review:  "Changes in Workers’ Compensation Laws in 2004"

[2/3/05]  The White House:  2005 State of the Union Address

[2/3/05]  National Women’s Law Center:  Social Security: Women, Children and the States

[2/3/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Stage Is Set for DB Plan Rule Changes"

[2/3/05]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review:  "Changes in Federal and State Unemployment Insurance Legislation in 2004"

[2/2/05]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  Grassley, Baucus Re-introduce NESTEG Pension Bill, Announce Plans to Look at More Reforms

[2/2/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide Insider:  "401(k) Plans: Boosting Participation and Participant Contributions"

[2/2/05]  American Medical News:  "Health Savings Accounts Make Impressive Strides: Early Response Suggests the Products Are Popular in the Individual Market"

[2/2/05]  Milliman USA, Inc.:  Milliman Experts Address Benefits of “True Group Long-Term Care” in New White Paper for Insurers

[2/1/05]  Workforce Management:  "Health Savings Accounts Undermine Push to Allow Flexible Spending Account Rollovers"

[2/1/05]  Hewitt Associates (via The ERISA Industry Committee):   The Countdown to January 1, 2006: The Retiree Medical and Benefits Revolution

[2/1/05]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Half of Insured Adults with High-Deductible Health Plans Experience Medical Bill or Debt Problems

[2/1/05]  The Los Angeles Times:  "Health Care Overhaul Is Quietly Underway" [registration may be required]

[2/1/05]  BenefitNews.com:  "Advice Coaxes 401(k) Participants to Save More"

[2/1/05]  The Washington Post:  "Bush May Back Curbs on Accounts: President Courts Critics of Social Security Plan" [registration may be required]

[2/1/05]  The Christian Science Monitor:  "Social Security Crisis? Not If Wealthy Pay Their Way" [opinion]


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Updated 2/28/05