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Welfare Plans Edition

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June 28, 2000

Fact Sheet on SEC's Proposal To 'Modernize' Rules on Auditor Independence of Accountants
Excerpt: "[The rules] would also identify certain non-audit services that, if provided to an audit client, would impair an auditor's independence." (Securities and Exchange Commission)

Employee Benefits: The Top Ten Trends
Observe the top trends occurring in the private employment-based benefits system, such as the normalization of flexible work arrangements. An extensive list of Internet resources is included, in a new booklet available from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans ($10 non-members; free to IFEBP members). (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

HR-XML Consortium Demonstrates Draft Protocol at Conference
Excerpt: "'From this demonstration and from similar exchanges among member companies, we have learned that the existence of agreed-upon XML specifications makes the integration of heterogeneous systems extremely easy,' said Chuck Allen, HR-XML Director." (Business Wire)

ADP Adds COBRA and Flexible Spending Account Services to 100 - 1,000 Employee Market
Excerpt: "Available in conjunction with ADP's payroll or HR solutions or as stand-alone services, these new programs will assist clients with between 100 and 1,000 employees ... This addition represents an extension of ADP's existing COBRA and FSA offerings to clients with more than 1,000 employees through its National Accounts Services group." (PR Newswire, via news.excite.com)

Texas Loses Right to Force HMOS to Review Decisions
Excerpt: "The state has lost its power over the independent boards that hear appeals from patients who are unhappy about treatment decisions. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals--ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by three Aetna Inc. subsidiaries--said the state cannot force health maintenance organizations to participate in such reviews." (Dallas Morning News)

Wisconsin High Court Rules in Favor of State's Family Leave Law
Excerpt: "Wisconsin workers won a victory Tuesday when the state Supreme Court ruled that a federal law cannot trump the state's family and medical leave law." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

National Health Insurers Face Federal Lawsuits
Excerpt: "Some of the nation's largest managed care companies are the target of a new round of federal lawsuits for their alleged failure to disclose financial incentives to deny or limit medical care services." (Reuters via Yahoo! News)

Wisconsin Supreme Court Says ERISA Does Not Preempt 'Substitution Provision' in Wisconsin's FMLA
Excerpt: "On June 27, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision affirming the Court of Appeals, and rejecting the claim of Aurora Medical Group that permitting substitution of paid sick leave under an ERISA sick pay plan for unpaid state FMLA leave was pre-empted by ERISA." (Michael Best & Friedrich LLP)

At Dell, Taking Options Over Cash Is No-Brainer
Excerpt: "The good news is that the founder and chief executive, Michael S. Dell, whose last reported shareholdings were worth $16.3 billion as of June 14, finally took a break from accepting outrageously large stock options from his board. The bad news is the personal computer maker continues to use an unusual, insidious bonus plan and is downplaying its worth." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Employees Want More Flexibility
Excerpt: "What do today's workers value over money? Flexibility. Or so say 6,000 American and Canadian workers surveyed by Randstad North America, the parent company of several employment firms." (MoreBusiness.com)

New Mexico Citizens' Claims Appeals Getting Boost From New Legislation
Excerpt: "Appeals of claims denied by managed health-care organizations are expected to be resolved in 60 days under the new regulations, said Danielle Wilson, assistant superintendent of insurance for the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission." (Albuquerque Journal)

A GOP Rebel's Lonely Patients' Rights Quest
Excerpt: "For six years, Norwood has been goading his party to create federal protections for patients in managed-care plans. He supports expanding the right to sue health maintenance organizations for malpractice." (Washington Post)

Customers Give HMOs Good Marks
Excerpt: "Most New Yorkers are satisfied with their health maintenance organizations, even though one of every five customers reported they had problems with health plans standing in the way of needed treatment." (Binghamton [NY] Press & Sun-Bulletin)

SEC Approves Massive Changes to Standards for Auditors
Excerpt: "A proposal to overhaul the accounting industry to help protect investors against fraud and ease investment restrictions for auditors and their families was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

Canadian Employers Offer More Flex-Time But Lag on Child-Care Support, Agency Says
Excerpt: "Employers trying to keep staff happy and loyal are offering more workplace perks to help balance labour and life, says a report released Tuesday. Flexible hours and work-at-home programs are becoming more typical, says the 12-page report by the Conference Board of Canada, an independent non-profit agency." (Canadian Presse)

Work-Life Benefits Are Finding a Measure of Success
Excerpt: "Though U.S. executives know how to measure every other important aspect of their businesses, the value of work/life programs is, at best, anecdotal. And many experts say that has to change." (Chicago Tribune)

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