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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

May 15, 2000

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Retiree Groups Pushing for 'Status Quo' Legislation for Employee Benefits in Mergers
Excerpt: "Retiree groups from General Electric, IBM, Bell Atlantic and three other corporations are uniting to protect retirees from benefit reductions in the event companies merge or are taken over, the executive director of the Association of US West Retirees told local members Thursday afternoon." (Associated Press)

Conseco's Hilbert Ends Long Career of Pay Excess
Excerpt: "Conseco Inc.'s Stephen Hilbert is living proof of the adage that bad news comes in threes. His numbing severance of more than $72 million follows on the heels of gigantic send-off packages for Coca-Cola Co.'s Douglas Ivester and Mattel Inc.'s Jill Barad. While any of the three would make a fine nominee for overpaid failure of the year, Hilbert puts Ivester and Barad to shame when it comes to his long-term record of strip-mining the corporate treasury." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Smart Bosses Appreciate Happy Workers
Excerpt: "For years now I've been trying to get employers to understand that they should be in the happiness business, not the management business. As we move closer and closer to full employment and workers become harder to find, that's truer than ever." (Huntsville [Alabama] Times)

Microsoft Gets Tough With Permatemps
Excerpt: "Microsoft is playing hardball. In a move closely watched by human resource and workplace experts, Microsoft Corp. has announced a new policy, effective July 1, that requires workers it classifies as temporary employees, who have been on the job for 12 months, to depart. The temps can apply for one of 3,000 fulltime current job openings, but if they are not hired, they cannot work at [Microsoft] for at least 100 days." (Treasury and Risk Management)

Rising Healthcare Costs Provoke Dispute between Employers and Drug Companies
Excerpt: "The rising cost of health care, driven largely by surging pharmaceutical costs, is provoking a nasty intramural spat in the business community. Employers who pick up the lion's share of the nation's health insurance tab are taking aim at the marketing and pricing policies of pharmaceutical manufacturers, whom they accuse of peddling overly costly solutions to common ailments." (Associated Press)

Wisconsin Adopts Review Law for HMOs, Group Health Insurance Policies
Excerpt: "Gov. Tommy Thompson on Friday signed legislation creating independent review panels to hear appeals from people denied coverage of certain medical care by their insurance companies." (Associated Press)

Average Health Insurance Costs in April 2000
Excerpt: "Average health insurance premiums for HMO and non-HMO health plans in the United States rose slightly across the board during April 2000." (insure.com)

AMA: Give Americans a Patients' Rights Bill That Can Become Law Now
Excerpt: "The AMA urges the Patients' Bill of Rights conference committee to reach agreement on a strong patientsí bill of rights before Memorial Day recess." (American Medical Association)

Hastert Eyes Clinton's Help on HMOs
Excerpt: "In a private White House meeting last week, House Speaker Dennis Hastert told President Clinton he favors HMO legislation that extends new rights to all Americans with insurance, rather than a more limited series of protections in a Senate-passed bill, according to Republican sources." (Associated Press)

Your Guide Through the Medicare Maze
Excerpt: "[This booklet] is intended to help you think through basic issues and provide information that should better equip you and your family to discuss these topics. A state-by-state list of key agencies that can answer your specific questions about Medicare, Medicaid, supplemental health insurance, and long-term care is also included at the back of the booklet." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Viability of Nonprofits HMOS in Profit-Hungry World Questioned
Excerpt: "As Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the nation's second-largest nonprofit health maintenance organization, struggles to pull itself out of state rehabilitation, some industry watchers see a dim future for many of the nation's other nonprofit health plans." (A. M. Best)

Domestic Partner Benefits Availability Continues To Increase
Excerpt: "Domestic partner benefits occupy an increasingly prominent position in public and private debate. Recent developments in several states and among employers concerning these benefits reflect the continuing effort to define them and broaden their availability." (Thompson Publishing Group)

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