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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

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July 7 - 11, 2000

Insurers Shy Away From Human Genome
Excerpt: "'I don't know of a single company that is currently trying to get genetic testing information for the purposes of deciding who to cover,' according to Dwight Bartlett III, senior health fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries, Washington." (National Underwriter Company)

Massachusetts Lawmakers, Health Care Advocates Outline HMO Reform Bill
Excerpt: "State legislators and health care advocates yesterday finished drafting a sweeping bill that would increase HMO patient protections, leaving the legislation a few votes away from becoming the state's most significant health care law in a generation." (Boston Globe)

President Clinton's Remarks on July 7, 2000 on the Need for a Patients' Bill of Rights
Excerpt: "But it's equally obvious that you can't turn the fundamental life and death decisions about the quality of health care over to people who are managing for things that have nothing to do with whether the patient turns out healthy or not. And that's what this whole thing is about." (The White House: Office of The Press Secretary)

Opinion: Massachusetts Legislature Must Act Quickly to Protect Our Genetic Privacy
Excerpt: "Who will have access to genetic information collected on us? Should HMOs and other insurers be able to use this information to discriminate against those who inherit flawed genes by denying them coverage or charging higher rates for perceived risk? Should employers, too, utilize information to hire or fire workers?" (Boston Herald)

Putnam Investments Unveils New Corporate Benefits Portal for Plan Sponsors and Participants
Excerpt: "Putnam will offer the portal to its 2,500 retirement plans, which represent more than 2 million users. Putnam will build, host and maintain the benefits portal on behalf of each corporate plan." (Business Wire, via Yahoo! Finance)

Information Technology Departments Prepare for HIPAA
Excerpt: "A law intended to simplify the exchange of information between health insurers, providers and related parties will soon force many organizations to face the daunting task of retrofitting their systems to comply." (CMP Media Inc.)

Data Standards Are Key to HIPAA Administrative Simplification Compliance
Excerpt: "The act also seeks to reduce the costs of health care delivery by making possible the standardized, electronic transmission of many administrative and financial transactions, while also ensuring the security of patient information." (National Underwriter Company)

Retirees: Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Trends in Retiree Benefits
Excerpt: "Recently I hosted a panel of experts at the Morningstar Retirement Conference in Chicago to discuss attitudes and trends in providing benefits and services to those workers who are already retired. A number of important issues arose in that discussion that I'd like to share with you today." (Sue Stevens on 401kWire.com; free registration required)

44% of Patients Think Insurers Influence Medical Care Decisions
Excerpt: "Americans overwhelmingly trust their doctors to put medical need before insurance rules when making care decisions according to a new study released by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC)." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

Consumer Fear Grows Over Genetics and Insurance
Excerpt: "Insurance industry officials said existing laws already prohibit them from denying coverage based on an individual's pre-existing health condition." (DrKoop.com)

It's Party Time for HMO Stocks
Excerpt: "Only on Wall Street does the possibility that an individual could lose his or her health-care coverage -- and the possibility that others will have to pay more for theirs -- lead to higher stock prices. Now, we don't hold false illusions about what Wall Street's function is, but we do find the recent developments among health insurers quite interesting." (Joseph Duarte, on Financial Web)

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