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The BenefitsLink Newsletter

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April 25 - 27, 2000

HR-XML Consortium Continues Growth, Targets Initial Demonstration Projects
Excerpt: "The workgroup also is planning to deploy this summer a demonstration of how standardized XML can streamline the transfer of Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit (DC/DB) data between a plan sponsor, such as an employer, and a plan provider." (Business Wire)

Mutual Funds Introduce Web Sites to Dole Out Investment Advice
Excerpt: "As the gyrations of the stock market shake Wall Street, mutual fund and other financial services firms have rolled out Web sites that give investors instant access to real-time information--plus personalized advice--about their money." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

IBM Shareholders Reject Effort to Force Company to Continue to Offer Traditional Pension Plan
Excerpt: "IBM Corp. shareholders rejected today an employee-driven effort to force the company to offer its traditional pension plan to all workers who want it." (Associated Press)

QDRO Awarding Ex-Spouse 'One-Half' of Account Doesn't Prevent Participant From Changing Investments
Excerpt: "During the period of separate accounting, [EBIA recommends] that plan administrators maintain QDRO procedures which provide for the suspension of a participant's right to reallocate the investment of any separated amounts." (EBIA Weekly)

5th Cir: Divorce Decree Waived Former Spouse's Beneficiary Interest in ERISA Life Insurance Plan
Excerpt: "... the court refused to follow cases from other federal circuits that have required an express reference to the spouse's 'beneficiary interest' or similar language. '[We will] find waiver if, upon reading the language in the divorce decree, a reasonable person would have understood that she was waiving her beneficiary interest." (EBIA Weekly)

Fourth Circuit Enforces Terms of Unambiguous Subrogation Clause, Rejects "Make-Whole" Rule
Excerpt: "... even if the plan's subrogation clause were ambiguous, the court ruled that it would not have applied the make-whole rule." (EBIA Weekly)

Hewitt Associates Launches CompensationCenter.com
Excerpt: "includes access to Hewitt's extensive compensation survey library, a resource center with industry news and trend information, market pricing capabilities and a variety of compensation tools." (Hewitt Associates)

Increase in Stock Options, Grants Triggers Explosion in CEO Pay
Article describes the "unending explosion of CEO pay, largely triggered by bigger and bigger stock option grants and more recently by the awarding of restricted stocks--a device usually viewed as a golden handcuff to keep CEOs from jumping ship." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

Insurers Respond to Call for Alternative Remedies
Excerpt: "And despite some skepticism about alternative medicine's effectiveness, most insurers are at least dipping their toes into the water to test the temperature of the trend." (Atlanta Constitution)

Patchwork Employer-Provided System Makes Universal Health Coverage Difficult
Excerpt: "Although the vast majority of Americans receive health insurance through their employers, by no means is the quality of coverage the same. Just ask Harry and Louise." (Dallas Morning News)

Vermont House Approves Bill Allowing Same-Sex Unions
Excerpt: "After four months of rancorous debate that divided neighbors throughout this normally tranquil state, Vermont yesterday approved a first-in-the-nation law that grants nearly all of the benefits of marriage to same-sex partners." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

Dingell-Norwood Contains Promising Step Toward Health-Care Reform
Excerpt: "Among the many suggested cures for our health care problems, none is less promising than the Dingell-Norwood 'Patients' Bill of Rights,' whose popularity disguises the fact that it is largely based on the very shaky assumption that we can sue our way to salvation. Yet not all the news is bad." (Richard Thornburgh)

Responding to DOL Investigations
Excerpt: "Benefits professionals who practice without liability insurance coverage are at a tremendous disadvantage in defending malpractice litigation actions." (Reish & Luftman)

Engagement Letters and Liability Insurance - The Only Real Protections
Excerpt: "If you and your business are the target of such an investigation, and the DOL report asserts that you have breached your fiduciary duties to your plan, you may think that there is no defense. That could be an expensive mistake." (Reish & Luftman)

GE Shareholders Reject Resolution to Require Enhancement of Pension Benefits
Excerpt: "General Electric shareholders rejected a proposal to alter the company's retirement benefits Wednesday, but union workers and retirees said their campaign for a better pension plan is gaining momentum." (Associated Press)

Many Lack Enough Retirement Savings
Excerpt: "More than half of U.S. households have saved less than they should for a comfortable retirement, and 59 percent of Americans expect their standard of living in old age to be lower than it is now, according to studies released Wednesday by a consumer group." (Associated Press)

Retired GE Workers Rally at Annual Shareholders Meeting
Excerpt: "Retired General Electric employees who claim they're forced to live on meager pensions while the company sits on a $24 billion pension fund surplus plan to take their case to shareholders." (Associated Press)


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