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Inside Washington (05/14/2008)
* WASHINGTON (5/15/08)--The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Services yesterday issued new guidance on the maximum contribution levels for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and out-of-pocket spending limits for high-deductible health plans used with HSAs. Next year, the maximum HSA contribution for an eligible individual with self-only coverage is $3,000. For family coverage, the maximum is $5,950. Catch-up contribution for individuals 55 or older will increase to $1,000 for 2009 and all years going forward ... * WASHINGTON (5/15/08)--Market participants will have to address the fundamental sources of financial strains, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech Tuesday. The Fed has taken various measures to boost liquidity, but it will be up to the industry to solve the market’s problems. Participants should deleverage, raise new capital and improve risk management, he said. Once the market’s financial conditions become more normal, the extraordinary provision of liquidity by the Federal Reserve will not be needed, he concluded ... * WASHINGTON (5/15/08)--The Senate Tuesday approved a measure that would lengthen a flood insurance program, covering homes against floods until 2013. The measure also would forgive $17 billion in debt from Hurricane Katrina (Reuters May 14). The Senate rejected a provision for wind damage coverage. The House voted last year to lengthen the program, approved wind coverage, but voted against forgiving the debt. The two parties must reconcile on the bill before it is sent to the president. The Bush administration has said it will veto the House bill. The insurance industry argues that the wind coverage would be too risky ... * WASHINGTON (5/15/08)--Of the 37,313 suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed in 2006 regarding mortgage fraud, mortgage brokers initiated the loans on 58% of the SARs sampled for a report by Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). There was a 44% increase in SARs from the year before. States with the greatest increases in fraud filings were Illinois, 76%; California, 71%; Florida, 53%; Michigan, 52%; and Arizona, 49% ... * WASHINGTON (5/15/08)--The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) announced that it launched the Consumer Response Center for consumers to receive information about or file a complaint against an institution regulated by OTS. The center can be reached at 800-842-6929 ... * WASHINGTON (5/15/08)--NACHA, the Electronic Payments Association, selected Janet O. Estep, an executive vice president with U.S. Bank, to serve as CEO. Estep replaces Elliott McEntee, who will retire at the end of this year. Estep will serve as president and chief operating officer, and McEntee will continue as chief executive officer. Estep was responsible for the Transaction Services Division at U.S. Bank. She joined the bank in 1997 as senior vice president and worked for IBM for 15 years. Her sensitivity to community banks and credit unions in the payments system ensures that NACHA and the automated clearinghouse network will benefit all stakeholders, said Mike Bilski, NACHA board member, who served on the CEO search committee ...

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