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According to recent data released by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), for fiscal year 2009, employee benefits-related tax expenditures ($347.9 billion) will account for 36.7% of the $948.157 billion tax expenditures in the federal government’s budget. Tax-favored employment-based health insurance benefits will account for the largest tax expenditure presented in the budget ($168.46 billion, or 17.8% of the total amount and 48.4% of all employee benefits-related tax expenditures), followed by employment-based retirement plans ($96.67 billion, or 10.2% of the total amount and 27.8% of all employee benefits-related tax expenditures).

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company recently launched a new variable annuity called Crossings: My Lifetime IRA. The new product is designed specifically as a rollover option for employees taking distributions from employer-sponsored retirement plans at Fortune 1000 companies. Crossings is the first product developed by Corporate Markets, AXA Equitable’s newly created business unit providing retirement plan solutions and strategies to large corporations. Crossings is not available through any other business unit, the company says. Data from the fourth annual AXA Equitable Retirement Scope released in January 2008, which surveyed workers and retirees about their financial preparations, quality of life and views on retirement, found that Americans are deeply concerned about outliving their retirement savings. They also want protection against market volatility, as well as the ability to maintain their quality of life after retirement. According to the results, more than 70% of workers believe employers are responsible for retirement readiness. According to AXA, Crossings is designed to address these retirement concerns, and do so as a supplement to the employer’s benefit plans.

Meanwhile, The Phoenix Companies, Inc., and Lockwood Capital Management, Inc. (LCM), an affiliate of Pershing LLC, recently introduced Guaranteed Retirement Income Solutions (GRIS), which the companies say for the first time wraps a lifetime income guarantee around an investor’s managed account assets held in an LCM account. The insurance product will be available through LCM. Lockwood Capital Management is a component of Pershing Managed Account Solutions. Guaranteed Retirement Income Solutions guarantees predictable lifetime income payments regardless of the actual performance or value of an investor’s LCM account. According to the companies, it is available only for managed accounts that are invested in LCM’s Lockwood Investment Strategies Longevity Income Solutions (LIS2) asset allocation models.

CEOs representing America’s top companies joined recently with U.S. Senate health leaders to urge swift passage of the “Wired for Health Care Quality Act,” a measure designed to encourage healthcare providers to use state-of-the-art technology. “We can save thousands of lives and conserve billions of dollars for health care with this one stroke–and we can do it this year,” said Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and sponsor of the legislation, in a statement. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), ranking member of the HELP committee and original co-sponsor of the legislation, said in the statement that “The healthcare and business communities, including small businesses, are clamoring for Congress to take action and establish uniform health IT standards.” This bill, he said, “will eliminate duplicative tests and reduce medical errors. Moving from a paper-based healthcare system to secure electronic medical records will save lives and reduce skyrocketing health care costs.”


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