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Welfare Plans Edition

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July 20, 2000

The Ten Most Important Health Care Issues for Patients as We Enter the Next Millennium
Excerpt: "The number of people without health insurance has continued to increase, reaching about 43.4 million, or 16 percent of the population, in 1997...Increases in life expectancy, improvements in medical technology, and the aging of the baby boom generation are contributing to unprecedented growth in the population older than sixty-five...While more people live to the oldest ages, they may live their increased years with multiple illnesses and disabilities, requiring long-term health care." (Dana H.C. Lee, J.D., on Healthology.com)

Phoenix City Council Approves Benefits for Same-Sex and Heterosexual Domestic Partners
Excerpt: "Beginning Aug. 1, same-sex and heterosexual unmarried partners of city employees will for the first time be eligible to share city health, life and other insurance benefits. The expanded benefit was contained in city union contracts that the council unanimously, and quietly, passed last month." (Arizona Republic)

Paid Leave Enticing for Workers and Companies
Excerpt: "'This is the kind of flexible benefit that smart companies are institutionalizing and offering to their employees...' [one consultant said]. The most important reason for management to grant a leave of absence is to keep the employee ..." (Miami Herald)

Keeping Creative Employees Happy And Relaxed Is Important to The Bottom Line
Excerpt: "Rec rooms ... are becoming the rage among Internet and other high-tech firms scrambling to attract young employees for whom work and play aren't separate worlds. Many of these techies have grown up with computers, toggling between work and play with the click of a mouse." (Atlanta Constitution)

ING is Buying Aetna Division; New Health Business to Be Spun Off, Including Aetna U.S Healthcare
Excerpt: "Under the terms of the deal, Aetna will spin off a new health business which will include Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Group Insurance and Large Case Pensions and Aetna Global Benefits. The parent company and remaining subsidiaries, which include the financial services and international business, will merge with a newly formed subsidiary of ING." (Associated Press)

Health Plans Refuse Coverage for Laser Eye Surgery
Excerpt: "Health insurance companies won't pay for laser surgery that corrects vision in nearsighted, farsighted, and astigmatic people. They consider it cosmetic surgery, placing it in the category with breast implants and facelifts. Yet, despite the surgery's average $3,000 to $4,000 price tag, consumers are clamoring to have it done and willing to pay for it themselves." (insure.com)

Under Pressure, Managed Health Care Organizations Pledge Reforms
Excerpt: "Facing the threat of federal reforms, health plans serving 100 million Americans pledged Tuesday to make it easier for patients to choose doctors, go to the emergency room and understand their benefits. Women would be allowed to see a gynecologist or obstetrician whenever they want, for example, and all children would have the right to see a pediatrician, rather than be forced to have family practitioners as their primary-care doctors." (Los Angeles Times)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Electronic Signature Legislation Becomes Law
Excerpt: "The new law (Pub. L. No. 106-229) will significantly impact the way many transactions, including the administration of employee benefit plans, are conducted in the future." (Groom Law Group)

Non-Fiduciaries Face ERISA Liability for Knowing Participation in Prohibited Transactions
Excerpt: "The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled ... that a party in interest may be liable for its involvement in an ERISA prohibited transaction with a pension trust even though it is not an ERISA fiduciary. [The case is] Harris Trust and Savings Bank v. Salomon Brothers Inc ... The decision ... creates the potential for significantly more claims against a host of parties who deal with ERISA plans." (Groom Law Group)

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