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April 28, 2000

Bill Would Give Access to Retirement Accounts
Excerpt: "An obscure provision of the Senate-passed version of the bankruptcy reform bill now pending in Congress could allow credit-card issuers and other lenders to tap some borrowers' retirement assets to pay off debts in the event of a bankruptcy." (Los Angeles Times)

Bankruptcy Reform Under Fire
Excerpt: "An obscure provision of the Senate-passed version of the bankruptcy reform bill now pending in Congress could allow credit-card issuers and other lenders to tap some borrowers' retirement assets to pay off debts in the event of a bankruptcy." (Washington Post)

Testimony at April 13, 2000 Hearing on Protecting Pension Assets
(U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions)

Statement of Health Insurance Association of America on Confidentiality of Health Information
Excerpt: "While ensuring the most appropriate patient care is clearly the paramount use for medical records, health information also is critical to basic insurance functions. Both public and private payers require personal health information in order to administer health care benefits." (Health Insurance Association of America)

A Matter of Form (5500)
Excerpt: "The new form 5500 is intended to simplify the report and the way it is filed and processed. For the first time, entities will file form 5500 with the DOL rather than with the IRS." (Journal of Accountancy (AICPA))

IBM Lets Benefits Stand
Excerpt: "Supporters said the issue will be up for another vote at next year's annual meeting and could eke out a victory to repeal the pension changes. But benefits experts said the vote, no matter how compelling, would not have an impact in slowing the tide that IBM joined to change pension systems in businesses across the country." (Poughkeepsie Journal)

IBM's Middle-Age Loyalists Caught Between Old, New
Excerpt: "Emory Keller's birthday came just 10 days too late last year, and it will cost him many thousands of dollars in annual retirement benefits." (Seattle Times)

Big Blue Draws Protest
Excerpt: "Although shareholders of International Business Machines Corp. yesterday turned down a proposal that would have restored workers' traditional pensions, supporters called the vote a victory that should catch national attention." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Change In Beneficiary Was Not Effective Because Participant Failed To Sign The Form
Excerpt: "A Sec. 401(k) plan participant who failed to sign a beneficiary designation form did not substantially comply with the plan's beneficiary designation requirements, and thus the participant's attempted change in beneficiary was not effective. This was the ruling of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Bank of America v. McMath." (Spencernet)

Company Did Not Violate ADEA By Offering Choice Between Severance Pay Or Special Retirement Option
Excerpt: "A company did not violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when it offered a laid-off employee an option to receive either a lump sum severance payment or a special retirement option. This was the ruling of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Stokes v. Westinghouse Savannah River Company." (Spencernet)

Lawyers Tell Managed Care to Watch Out
Excerpt: "Despite vilification by opponents, Richard Scruggs and counterparts vow to continue suits against the nation's largest health plans in an effort to reshape the industry." (American Medical News)

PBGC Will Continue to Publish Lump Sum Interest Rates
Excerpt: "For plan sponsors that would like to calculate the lump sum value under both the pre-GATT rules and the GATT rules, and pay out the greater of these two amounts, this is a welcome announcement." (CIGNA's Pension Analyst)

New DOL Questions and Answers on Form M-1 For Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements
Excerpt: "The U.S. Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration published [on April 20] a second set of questions and answers on the new Form M-1 annual report for ... MEWAs." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Houghton Asks IRS to Reaffirm Proper Tax Treatment of ESPP Options
Excerpt: "House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Amo Houghton (R-NY) wants the IRS to clarify the proper employment and income tax treatment of employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) options and confirm the tax-favored treatment of these plans." (Ernst & Young)

What is My Account Really Worth? Sorting Out the Differences Between AUV and NAV (PDF)
Excerpt: "Insurance companies sometimes offer customers of variable annuities - such as individual annuities or employer sponsored retirement programs - the option of investing in mutual funds and other variable investment options through their variable annuity contract. Often, these customers can be confused by references to the Accumulation Unit Value and Net Asset Value." (National Association of Government Deferred Compensation Administrators)

4 Insurers, 11 HMOs Face Maryland Fines
Excerpt: "In what he termed a wake-up call to health insurers in the state, Maryland Insurance Commissioner Steven B. Larsen said he plans today to announce fines totaling $1.6 million against four major insurers, 11 health maintenance organizations and a private insurance review company." (Washington Post)

Patients Shouldn't Have To Sign Away Their Right To A Trial In Order To Receive Medical Care
Excerpt: "The war between patients and their HMOs could become a lot less contrarian if state legislation mandating the right to a public trial, rather than private dispute resolution by HMOs, passes the California Assembly, where it awaits action." (Los Angeles Times, via Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights)

ERISA Preemption and the Failure of the Democratic Process
Excerpt: "Although Congress had exhaustively considered the bills leading up to ERISA for many years, the law's final version of preemption was the product of last-minute changes in the conference committee that were never subject to reasonable scrutiny by the democratic process." (Prof. Rand E. Rosenblatt)

Patients' Bill of Rights Update
Excerpt: "The Patients' Bill of Rights conference now enters its third month of negotiations and the expectation is that May will be a critical time for determining whether a final agreement can be reached and, if so, whether it will be acceptable to a majority of Members in the House and Senate and to the President." (Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans)

Senate Passes Bill to Exclude Stock Option Profits from Overtime Pay
Excerpt: "The following bill description, therefore, not only spells out what is in the bill, but also what dropped out along the way, as well as background on these decisions." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

Patients' Rights Negotiations at Critical Stage as Senate Returns to Work
Excerpt: "While the Senate has already returned from its spring recess, the House is set to reconvene early next week. The AMA has learned that two of the three major issues in the Patients' Bill of Rights remain to be decided in the conference committee chaired by Oklahoma Republican Senator Don Nickles." (American Medical Association)

Life Insurance Riders Can Pay for Long Term Care
Excerpt: "One important question is whether any rider attached to a life insurance policy is an adequate substitute for long term care insurance. If you do the math, you'll see that a long term care rider on a life insurance policy won't necessarily cover all of your long term care expenses." (insure.com)

Coordinated Bargaining Committee of General Electric Unions: Web Site Describes Pension Enhancements
Excerpt: "Busloads of retirees and GE workers, traveling from as far away as Syracuse, NY nd Erie, PA, and Louisville, KY descended on Richmond to raise their voices against GE's failure to bring them into the company's growing prosperity." (CBC)

Poverty in Old Age Looms for Developing World
Excerpt: "Ninety percent of the world's working-age population, most of it in developing countries, are not covered by pension schemes and face poverty in old age, an International Labor Organization report said Friday." (New York Times; free registration required)

Microsoft Avoids the Mess of an Option Repricing
Excerpt: "Nobody ever said Microsoft Corp. wasn't creative. The software maker has found a nice way to avoid the mess of repricing employee stock options that are underwater. Simply give every employee a brand new option grant and let him or her keep the earlier grants." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

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