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Welfare Plans Edition

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June 23 - 26, 2000

Employers Council on Flexible Compensation Comments on Proposed IRS Cafeteria Plan Regs
Excerpt: "On behalf of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), we express our concern about and request clarification regarding provisions contained in the proposed Section 125 regulations (Reg-117162-99) clarifying circumstances permitting cafeteria plan participants to change their elections." (ECFC)

5th Circuit's Decision Could Be 'Bad Thing' for Consumers
Excerpt: "The three-judge panel, upholding a lower court, ruled that [Texas's] independent review process [for HMO coverage denials] violates a 1974 federal law that governs employee pension plans. The ruling came as part of a larger decision upholding a 1997 state law that allows consumers to sue their health plan in state court for damages." (Dallas Morning News)

7th Cir: Employee Has Burden Of Proof Of Job Restoration Eligibility After FMLA Leave
Excerpt: "The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that it is the ultimate responsibility of the employee, and not the employer, to prove that the employer would have retained the employee regardless of her taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The ruling came in Rice v. Sunrise Express, Inc." (Spencernet)

5th Circuit Affirms Right of Texas Patients to Sue HMOs
Excerpt: "A federal appeals court has upheld the right of Texas patients to sue their HMOs for damages for what essentially amounts to vicarious medical malpractice, further eroding a U.S. law called ERISA that has shielded health insurers from liability for more than two decades." (insure.com)

Class Action Alleges Kaiser Permanente HMO Misleads Patients
Excerpt: "Patients who belong to Kaiser Permanente health-maintenance organizations aren't being told the truth about how their doctors make decisions about their health care, according to a class-action lawsuit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle." (Seattle Times)

Large Employers Seek Additional Guidance on Form M-1 for Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements
Excerpt: "... regarding the need for additional guidance regarding the Department's new MEWA reporting requirements. Specifically, ERIC's concerns include the following:" (ERISA Industry Committee)

Third Installment of MEWA Form M-1 Questions and Answers from U.S. Department of Labor
Excerpt: "I understand that the 1999 Form M-1 was due on May 1, 2000. I just found out about the requirement and I missed the May 1, 2000 deadline. What should I do?" (U.S. Department of Labor)

Gay Rights Group Targets Nine Companies in Push for Domestic Partner Benefits
Excerpt: "The Georgia Equality Project is pressuring nine major Georgia companies to provide gay and lesbian workers with the same health care and other benefits offered to married couples." (Atlanta Constitution)

Senate Blocks Ergonomics Standard
Excerpt: "The Senate rejected a plan by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to implement new ergonomics standards ... [the rejection came] during debate and vote on amendments to the fiscal year 2001 spending bill (H.R. 4577) for the government's Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments." (A. M. Best)

EBRI Named to List of '100 Best Research Sources'
Congratulations to the Employee Benefit Research Institute of Washington, D.C. for making the list! EBRI (www.ebri.org) is an invaluable source of information for policymakers and everyone concerned with pensions and other employee benefit programs. (American Demographics)

Executive Order Prohibits Discrimination on Basis of 'Sexual Orientation, Status as a Parent'
Excerpt: "[D]iscrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, and status as a parent will be prohibited in Federally conducted education and training programs and activities ... [which] include, but are not limited to, formal schools, extracurricular activities, academic programs, occupational training, scholarships and fellowships, student internships ..." (White House)

State Health Insurance Mid-Year Report: A State by State Analysis (PDF)
47-page guide to health care legislation pending or recently passed, including issues on long-term care, processing of claims, mental health parity and HMO liability. (Health Insurance Association of America)

Hill Republican Leaders Struggle for Patients' Rights Deal
Excerpt: "Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are pushing hard to cut a deal within their own ranks on the long-stalled patients' rights bill but ran into big trouble yesterday from one of their own key players." (Washington Post)

American Medical Association Begins Campaign for Patients Rights Bill
Excerpt: "The American Medical Association has begun a grassroots campaign to persuade three Republican senators in tough re-election bids to drop their opposition to a White House-backed patient rights bill." (Associated Press)

Managed Care Professionals Respect California's New HMO Regulator
Excerpt: "The state's new HMO czar hasn't levied a single fine or issued even one formal recommendation yet, but the health plans he'll regulate and other managed care stakeholders have already passed judgment: They like him." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

No One Left Out of Extensive Florida HMO Legislation
Excerpt: "A series of new HMO reforms offers something for nearly everyone in Florida senior citizens, children, employers, and even the health insurers themselves." (insure.com)

Aetna U.S. Healthcare Forms Physicians Committee to Simplify Referral Process
Excerpt: "Aetna U.S. Healthcare, which covers about 500,000 members in Virginia, announced yesterday it is forming a committee of physicians from the insurer and the Medical Society of Virginia to advise the company about policies and procedures." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

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