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Welfare Plans Edition

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June 14, 2000

Experts Disagree Whether Supreme Court Decision Is Victory for HMOs
Excerpt: "The unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision that prevents patients from using a federal law to sue their health maintenance organizations and allows giving doctors financial incentives could be a mixed blessing for health maintenance organizations, experts said." (A. M. Best)

State Efforts to Allow Hmo Lawsuits Meet Strong Resistance
Excerpt: "Now that Republicans in Congress have shelved a federal bill to give patients the right to sue managed care companies for denying medically necessary treatment, the focus has shifted to similar efforts in New Jersey and other states." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

Conference Agreement Reached on E-Signature Legislation (PDF)
Excerpt: "House and Senate conferees have reached an agreement on S. 761, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. The conference agreement was filed in the House on June 8, 2000. The bill has broad bipartisan support and the Administration has indicated that the President would sign the bill." (Financial Executives Institute)

Digital Signatures Headed for a Vote
Excerpt: "After months of partisan wrangling over clauses on consumer protection and data storage, Congress this week hopes to pass an electronic-signature and record-keeping bill designed to make it easier for companies and consumers to do business in the digital age." (New York Times; free registration required)

Long-Time 'Temps' Sue SmithKline for Benefits in ERISA Class Action
Excerpt: "SmithKline Beecham Corp. was hit with a class action ERISA suit Monday by workers who say the pharmaceuticals giant avoids providing benefits by improperly classifying hundreds of its employees as 'temporary' even though they've held their jobs for years." (Law.com)

HMO Ruling Passes Debate Back to Congress
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court's rejection of certain lawsuits against HMOs turns up the pressure on Congress to define what recourse should be possible for patients who are unhappy with the treatment they get from managed-care programs." (USA Today)

Patients Can't Sue HMOs Over Doctor Bonuses, Supreme Court Rules
Excerpt: "The decision also suggests that ongoing efforts to force HMOs to disclose how they make those profits may be allowed. That includes pending class action lawsuits to force the industry to disclose incentives they offer doctors to keep costs low." (Chicago Tribune)

Workers' Benefit Plans are Gaining Value
Excerpt: "As employers search for ways to attract and retain employees in today's tight labor market, employee benefits packages actually are rising in value faster than wages, according to the Department of Labor." (Washington Times)

Easing the Pain: the Debate Over Government Efforts to Make the Workplace Ergonomically Correct
Excerpt: "More and more workers are coming into doctors' offices suffering from work related injuries linked to over exertion and repetitive motion. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or OSHA, nearly two million workers a year experience what the agency calls musculoskeletal disorders, or MSD's." (Online News Hour, published by PBS)

Substance Abuse Services for Multiemployer Fund Participants
The survey responses of 185 salaried administrators of multiemployer health funds focus on the prevalence of substance abuse prevention and early intervention programs. Also included is information on cost, utilization and sponsorship of employee assistance programs(EAPs). (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Fewer Small Employers Offering Health Plans in Colorado
Excerpt: "The Colorado Division of Insurance said fewer small employers offered health insurance in 1999 than the year before, as new legislation made it more difficult for the self-employed to qualify for coverage as business groups of one." (Denver Rocky Mountain News)

Stock Option Issues for Hourly Workers
Excerpt: "On May 18, 2000, President Clinton signed the Worker Economic Opportunity Act, P.L. 106-202. The Act makes stock options more readily available to hourly workers by exempting employees' profits on stock options, stock appreciation rights, and employee stock purchase plans from the employees' 'regular rate' of pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act." (Hughes & Luce LLP)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser State Bank of Howards Grove
Medical Savings Accounts, or MSA's are the latest news in affordable health care for small business owners and the self-employed. With a qualifying High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), your employees are eligible to have a MSA. Inquire with your insurance agent about obtaining coverage, or see our website at www.bankwi.com for links to insurance agencies in your state offering MSA group plans. (BenefitsLink.com)

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