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Welfare Plans Edition

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June 15, 2000

Life Expectancies Rising Faster Than Expected
Excerpt: "Life expectancy in major industrialized nations is increasing faster than their governments are predicting, which could strain pension plans and other programs in those countries, a U.S. researcher says." (Associated Press)

Electronic-Signature Bill Is Passed by U.S. House
Excerpt: "The legislation, passed 426 to 4, would give new technologies like fingerprint scans and encryption keys the legal weight of ink-and-paper signatures, making it easier for both companies and consumers to do business online." (New York Times; free registration required)

5500 Database Searching Now Available in Pay-Per-Search Online Format
Excerpt: "Search for individual employers or conduct a detailed marketing project with access to the entire database (e.g. search by industry, location, plan type, participants, assets). Your results will appear on a separate screen enabling you to purchase the information you want or revise your search to further pinpoint your target." (BenefitFinder.com)

DOL Adv Op 2000-05A: Church Plan Under IRC 414(e) Is a Church Plan Under ERISA, But Fix Your SPDs
Excerpt: "... we note that benefit booklets included in your submission state that ERISA gives certain rights to participants of the Plans and imposes duties on fiduciaries of the Plans. ... We expect that appropriate actions will be taken to remove all erroneous references to rights and status under Title I of ERISA from plan documents and literature and that the Plans will promptly notify affected participants and beneficiaries that Title I of ERISA does not apply to the Plans." (U.S. Department of Labor)

DOL Adv Op 2000-06A: Collectively Bargained Plans for New York City Police Are Governmental Plans
Excerpt: "It is also the Department's view that the participation by a de minimis number of private sector employees in an otherwise governmental plan will not adversely affect the planís status as a governmental plan." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Advisory Opinion 2000-07A Blesses 'Government Plan' Status for Union-Run Plan for Ohio Civil Servants
Excerpt: "It is the view of the Department of Labor ... that the term "governmental plan" as defined in ERISA section 3(32) is not limited to plans established by the unilateral action of employers which are governmental agencies ... [but also includes] plans established or maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between a governmental entity and a labor union where such plans are funded by, and cover only employees of, governmental entities." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Advisory Opinion 2000-08A OKs Participation by 'De Minimis' Number of Private Employees in Govt Plan
Excerpt: "This responds to your request for an advisory opinion concerning the 'Employees Retirement System of the Government of Puerto Rico and its Instrumentalities' ... [specifically,] whether the status of the Retirement System as a 'governmental plan' under section 3(32) of ERISA would be adversely affected if the Retirement System were to allow participation by certain employees of General Telecommunications Electronic (GTE)." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Begging for Workers
Excerpt: "The unwritten contract binding loyal employee and caring employer shattered by downsizing in the 1990s has given way to fierce competition for footloose staff ... [one company, DoubleClick,] is offering Harley-Davidsons to the two employees who introduce the highest number of recruits to the company this year." (Financial Times)

Phased Retirement: How to Retire Without Retiring
Excerpt: "Phased retirement, in which retired employees return to work part time, is a growing option in corporate America, driven by a tight labor market and the desire of baby boomers to remain active." (Chicago Tribune)

How to Estimate Costs When Changing Terms of Self-Insured Health Plan Covering 850 Employees
Link to an interesting discussion by health benefits experts on our message boards. Join in! (BenefitsBoards.net)

AMA to Launch Ad Blitz in Support of Patients' Rights Legislation
Excerpt: "The AMA on Thursday is launching the beginning of an aggressive media and advertising blitz in key states where the doctors' group says it needs just one U.S. senator to change his mind and get enough votes to pass patients' rights legislation." (Chicago Tribune)

California's New HMO Burden
Commentary from the LA Times: "In California, HMO oversight has never been a strong point. The job is being removed from the state Department of Corporations, which was not consumer-oriented and was ill equipped to judge medical care issues. But the newly created HMO regulator, the Department of Managed Care, needs more resources to do its job. Patients will be the losers if the department can't get up to speed quickly." (Los Angeles Times)

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