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Welfare Plans Edition

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June 21, 2000

Hewitt Associates is Forming a Separate Internet Company to Assist Plan Participants
Excerpt: "Employee benefits firm Hewitt Associates is forming a separate Internet company to help its clients' employees better understand complex health insurance plans. Known as Sageo, the on-line venture will initially employ 200 consultants and professionals who will walk employees through their employers' health plan choices 24 hours a day." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

IRS Officials Comment on New Cafeteria Plan Regulations on Mid-Year Election Changes
Excerpt: "On Monday, June 5, at an ECFC Teleconference, IRS officials informally commented on several aspects of the new final and proposed regulations." (EBIA Weekly)

5th Cir: Election Notice Failure Did Not Create Liability For More Than 18 Months of PHSA Coverage
Excerpt: "Neither form contained any explanation of COBRA or any reference to the fact that her maximum COBRA period was 18 months. The qualified beneficiary received COBRA coverage for the full 18 months." (EBIA Weekly)

N. D. Texas: 120 Individual Severance Pay Agreements Are Not an ERISA Plan
Excerpt: "Individual severance pay agreements, offered to 120 of 4000 employees, contained an "entire agreement" provision with no mention of ERISA ... The court held that the severance agreement was not governed by ERISA and that the plaintiff was entitled to a jury trial." (EBIA Weekly)

Court upholds Texans' right to sue HMOs
Excerpt: "A federal appeals court has upheld a landmark 1997 Texas law allowing some consumers to sue their health maintenance organizations for damages if they feel they received poor care. But the ruling limits the types of suits that can be brought." (Dallas Morning News)

The 'R' Word: Justice Souter Takes on HMO Rationing of Health Care
Excerpt: "Whatever the form of an H.M.O., 'there must be rationing and inducement to ration' care, Justice Souter declared." (New York Times, via Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights)

EEOC Revises Its Interpretive Guidance on the ADA, Conforming It to Supreme Court Rulings
Excerpt: "the [U.S. Supreme] court held that mitigating measures that reduce the effects of an impairment must be considered when determining if a person is disabled ... the EEOC is conforming its interpretive guidance to the recent U.S. Supreme Court holdings." (EBIA Weekly)

CalPERS Drops Plan to Increase Employee Co-Payments for Prescription Drugs
Excerpt: "The mighty California Public Employees Retirement System rose up this year to beat back its burgeoning health care costs--and got cut down by its own membership. The CalPERS committee that oversees health benefits admitted as much Tuesday when it unanimously moved to abandon plans to increase most members' co-payments for brand-name prescription drugs." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

CalPERS Eyes 9.2 Percent HMO Premium Hike
Excerpt: "The California Public Employees Retirement System today is expected to approve a 9.2% increase in the cost of premiums next year for the health maintenance plans offered to its 1.2 million members." (Los Angeles Times)

U.S. Spends a Lot, but Ranks 37th in Health Care
Excerpt: "The United States spends more per person on health care than any other country, yet in overall quality its care ranks 37th in the world, says a World Health Organization analysis. It concludes that France provides the best health care." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Use of Herbal Remedies by Patients in an HMO
Excerpt: " Given that patients are using herbal remedies for a variety of health conditions without medical supervision, pharmacists need to actively and consistently obtain information about herbal remedy use to effectively advise patients and monitor outcomes." (Medscape; free registration required)

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