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May 1, 2000

Companies Facing Danger in Returns on 401(K) Plans
Excerpt: "In fact, Dallas lawyer Brooks Hamilton thinks employee benefit suits could have more impact than even the tobacco litigation of the 1990s. 'The numbers are mind-boggling,' Hamilton said. 'A tidal wave of litigation is coming, and it's going to dwarf tobacco.'" (San Antonio Express-News)

Pension Surplus Splits Florida Legislators
Excerpt: "Senate President Toni Jennings ... wants to draw billions of dollars from a surplus in the state pension fund to pay for an 8 percent teacher raise and other benefits for public employees. But House Speaker John Thrasher and Gov. Jeb Bush say the idea is fiscally risky, and they are adamantly opposed." (St. Petersburg Times)

Pension Provision in Bankruptcy Bill Attacked
Excerpt: "Senators from both parties attacked a provision in a bankruptcy bill passed by the Senate that would let credit card companies take some bankrupt consumers' retirement assets to pay off debts." (Associated Press)

8th Cir: ERISA Did Not Preempt State Claims Against Physicians For Failure To Disclose Incentives
Excerpt: "In its second ruling in the case, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that ERISA did not preempt a widow's state law claims of fraud and negligent misrepresentation against physicians for their failure to disclose financial incentive arrangements with an HMO. The case is Shea v. Esensten." (Spencernet)

Mich S Ct: Subrogation Clause Didn't Entitle Plan to Repayment From Plaintiff's Third Party Recovery
Excerpt: "... looking only at the terms of the original subrogation agreement, the court found that the plan was required to seek reimbursement for medical expenses from the driver." (EBIA Weekly)

11th Cir: Plaintiff Must Exhaust Admin Remedies First Even Though No Formal Plan Document In Place
Excerpt: "The plaintiff argued that she should be excused from pursuing an administrative remedy because the employer had violated ERISA by not transforming the [collective bargaining agreement's] provisions into an ERISA plan document and summary plan description, and by not properly communicating those documents." (EBIA Weekly)

Qualcomm Calls Off Settlement in Stock Option Litigation
Excerpt: "Qualcomm Inc. called off a proposed $8.9 million settlement of a lawsuit filed by former employees whose division was sold before they could exercise their stock options." (Associated Press)

Factors Influencing Employees' Long-Term Disability Claims for Mental Disorders
Excerpt: "Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have found that companies offering employee health plans with high deductibles for mental health services had significantly more claims for long-term psychiatric disabilities than those firms with fewer financial barriers to such coverage." (US Newswire)

New Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
Excerpt: "After a lengthy period on the drawing board, a Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) for employee benefit plans was announced by the Department of Labor (DOL) on March 15, 2000. The program began accepting applications on April 14th." (ASA Benefits)

Extras Perk Up Boston-Area High Tech Firm Employees
Excerpt: "Saunas and outdoor pagodas. Fully-stocked kitchens and game rooms. A bevy of high-tech giants are rolling out suburban campuses with perks like these in a bid to recruit the best and brightest techies the Boston area has to offer." (Boston Herald)

Compensation Execs Say Benefit Costs Are Rising
Excerpt: "Employment costs are on the rise, exacerbated by tight labor pools, health care inflation and competition from dot.com enterprises that have promised, and often delivered, untold riches, say compensation and benefits consultants." (Market News International)

Health Insurance Act Raises Health Care Industry's Ire
Excerpt: "A set of proposed health privacy regulations slated to become law in June has provoked protest from sectors of the health-care industry, which argue that complying with the code will be impossibly burdensome, and from consumers who argue that the law will subject their online privacy rights to violation." (Inter@ctive Week)

Fit Workers Means Lower Health Care Costs for Employers
Excerpt: "... some companies are using their intranets to link employees to sites in the Internet that provide health and fitness information ... Many companies are exploring new ways to use incentives to encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Don't Be Left Feeling Numb; Pick the Right Dental Plan
Excerpt: "Dental health care plans ease the pain of expensive dental care two ways: They help pay the bills, and they encourage good dental hygiene, which prevents future visits to the dentist. Statistics show that people are twice as likely to visit the dentist for a regular checkup if they have dental health care coverage." (News USA)

GAO Faults HCFA Enforcement of HIPAA
Excerpt: "Nearly 4 years after the Congress enacted new federal health insurance standards, HCFA still does not fully know the level of many states' conformance with these federal standards and has not developed specific time periods for completing its evaluation of states' conformance," the report says. (Medscape (free registration required))

Patients' Bill of Rights, from NPR's Morning Edition 5/1/2000 (Real Audio format)
(National Public Radio)

Physicians for Responsible Negotiation Web Site
Excerpt: "Every day you take a professional stand against powerful outside forces to ensure that your patients get the treatment they need. But the system is deaf. Health plans, hospitals, and academic institutions simply do not respond to the lone voice of a physician calling for change. Physicians for Responsible Negotiation is a new breed of labor organization. PRN is a national negotiating organization for employed physicians and eligible medical residents ..." (Physicians for Responsible Negotiation)

Pension Plans Getting Scarce As Companies, Employees Shy Away from Commitment
Excerpt: "In today's bullish, tech-driven economy, the pension plan suddenly seems passe. The reasons are many. Younger workers are unlikely to spend their careers at one company, some experts say. Others point to the enormous cost of administrating a pension plan. And in the so-called New Economy world of dot-com millionaires, retirement benefits at some companies have taken a back seat to stock options and venture-capital funds." (Seattle Times)

Employee Benefits Survey (PDF)
From the Spring 2000 issue of Compensation and Working Conditions Online; includes table on "number and percent of full-time employees participating in selected retirement benefit programs by selected occupational group, 1997." (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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