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The BenefitsLink Newsletter

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May 5 - 8, 2000

401k Plans Remain Popular in the Midst of A Roller Coaster Market
Excerpt: "Reflecting the explosive stock market, discretionary contributions continue to soar, as more and more companies invest in their 401(k) plans, according to Silicon Valley-based accounting firm Mohler, Nixon & Williams' seventh annual 401(k) Survey." (Business Wire)

IRS Relaxes 'Same Desk' Rule for 401(k) Distributions Following an Acquisition of Part of a Company
Excerpt: "In a partial retreat from the same desk rule described in Rev. Rul. 79-336, the IRS has relaxed the rule to determine whether an employee has a separation from service for 401(k) purposes when his employment is transferred pursuant to an acquisition of a portion of the company's assets." (TRI Pension Services)

Revenue Ruling 2000-27
Addresses the question, "Will a distribution of amounts deferred by an employee under a cash or deferred arrangement under section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code be considered to have been made earlier than the employee's 'separation from service,' within the meaning of section 401(k)(2)(B)(i)(I), if the distribution is made after the sale to an unrelated employer of assets constituting less than substantially all of the assets of a trade or business of the employee's employer?" (Internal Revenue Service)

Pension Problems: It's New Europe vs. Od Thinking
Excerpt: "The looming retirement crisis is at odds with the picture of a "new Europe" portrayed by many leaders on the continent who boast that Europe is as competitive and dynamic as the United States. In fact, experts say, the pension situation reflects the defects of the old Europe ..." (Detroit News)

France Introducing Private Pensions Invested in Employer Securities, But Unions Are Opposed
Excerpt: "The French government, anxious to avoid charges by its leftwing that it wants to introduce capitalised pension funds, stressed on Friday that a new employee savings plan would not amount to a pension scheme." (Agence France-Presse)

Revenue Ruling 2000-24
Excerpt: "Amounts paid by an individual for expenses of admission and transportation to a medical conference relating to the chronic disease of the individual's dependent are deductible as medical expenses under section 213 (subject to the limitations of that section), if the costs are primarily for and essential to the medical care of the dependent. The cost of meals and lodging while attending the conference are not deductible as medical expenses under section 213." (Internal Revenue Service)

2d Cir: ADA Does Not Prohibit Plan Providing Disparate Coverage for Mental, Physical Disabilities
Excerpt: "The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not prohibit employers from offering long term disability benefit plans that provide less coverage for mental and emotional disabilities than for physical disabilities. The ruling came in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Staten Island Savings Bank and Guardian Life Insurance Company." (Spencernet)

Get Your Hands Off My Retirement Fund
Excerpt: "The employees of Pacific Telesis had no idea their retirement plans would be affected when their company was bought by SBC Communications. But in a trend-setting lawsuit, that is exactly what they say happened." (Fox Market Wire)

C. E. Oafs
Excerpt: "Thank God for bad CEOs. They make superior chief executives look even better. And they ensure a steady supply of disaster and failure, making the job of financial journalist much easier." (Worth Online)

Conseco Stock Purchase Program Goes Awry
Excerpt: "The investment opportunity that Conseco Inc. dangled in front of its junior executives was too good to resist and too hard to refuse. Buying Conseco stock with no money down, using loans guaranteed by the company, seemed like a sure path to prosperity and true show of loyalty. But fewer than two years later, many of the 155 key employees who invested alongside top officers and members of Conseco's board of directors are facing heavy losses, if not outright ruin." (StarNews.com)

Home Depot's Best Buys Are in Atlanta: Its Executive Officers
Excerpt: "Home Depot Inc.'s Bernard Marcus and Arthur Blank are among the best buys in America. They are paid relatively little and they give ever so much to their shareholders." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

HMOs Exploring Use of Alternative Healthcare
Excerpt: "Health plans, buffeted in recent years for their no-frills approach to medical care, are pushing ever further into alternative medicine, hoping to find low-cost ways to boost patient satisfaction." (USA Today)

Patients' Rights Legislation Getting Another Push from the President
Excerpt: "As the election season looms, President Clinton is using his bully pulpit to keep congressional Republicans on the defensive over two popular health care initiatives: managed-care reform and prescription drug benefits for the elderly." (St. Petersburg Times)

Reporting Requirements Cloud Consensus on Curbing Medical Errors
Excerpt: "Health providers and patient safety experts are split over whether mandatory reporting of serious errors to state and federal agencies would usher in a new culture of accountability." (Medscape; free registration required)

Health Information Confidentiality: The Federal Government Steps In
Excerpt: "This column discusses the types of activities that will bring an individual or a company under the requirements of HIPAA and its 'administrative simplification' regulations." (Medscape (free registration required))

Patients' Bill of Rights Gathers Dust
Excerpt: "If you had been holding your breath for a comprehensive patients' bill of rights, you probably would have passed out by now. The House-Senate conference committee on managed care reform has taken some serious time away from its initial objective ..." (DrKoop.com)

Germany Planning to Provide Employer Deductions for Private Pension Contributions, But Tax Payouts
Excerpt: "Germany's coalition government plans to shift the tax burden on old-age provision from contributions to pension payouts, a senior government source confirmed Thursday. But she added that the coalition partners had as yet failed to agree on ways to plug the tax-revenue shortfall which the reform would create." (Handelsblatt)

Several Senators Take Issue With Gore's Opposition to Social Security Privatization
Excerpt: "At odds with Vice President Al Gore, two Democratic senators and a Republican colleague said Sunday a portion of Social Security taxes should be invested in private markets to help people save more for retirement." (Associated Press)

Employees Singing Stock Option Blues
Excerpt: "The tales of stock option riches are everywhere: Microsoft employees who quit at 40 to travel the world ... Get ready for stock option sob stories." (Arizona Republic)

Pink Slips in Paradise
Excerpt: "The former Secretary of Labor says the recent--and ongoing--spate of layoffs is not cause for concern. It's actually a sign of health." (Robert Reich, in The Standard)

Running the Numbers
Excerpt: "Need help benchmarking compensation, benefits or occupational safety? Chances are the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics can help." (HR Magazine)

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