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Welfare Plans Edition

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August 4 - 7, 2000

Opinion: Plaintiff Lawyers' Miami Lawsuit May Put Nation's HMOs in Jeopardy
Excerpt: "While health care is shaping up as one of the most vital issues in this year's elections, an unelected group of veteran plaintiffs' lawyers is attempting to silence the debate and hijack the issue. In a consolidated case in Miami federal court, the lawyers are suing the nation's leading HMO's and, in the process, jeopardizing quality healthcare for the 80 million Americans they serve." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News)

When the Boss Helps You Find A New Job
Excerpt: "Perks abound in today's workplace. But here's a new one a growing number of companies are trying out: free in-house job advice. That's right. Businesses are setting up on-site career centers that offer everything from one-on-one counseling to skills assessment to crafting a killer resume." (Christian Science Monitor)

Do Pay Disparities Sacrifice Morale?
Excerpt: "See that young guy over there, at the desk by the window? Brand new hire, and he makes $10,000 more than you. Are you OK with that? If you're like many people, maybe not. The low unemployment rate and factors such as the growing importance of the Internet to business have created a superheated job market for certain kinds of workers, especially those with technology skills." (Star Tribune Company)

Federal Agencies Devise Employment Plan to Handle Mass Departure of Retiring Work Force
Excerpt: "The [federal] government seems assured of a huge talent drain within the next five years. About 30 percent of the career civil service will be eligible to retire, and an additional 20 percent could seek early retirement. Most federal agencies find it difficult to hire top-notch college graduates, particularly those with high-tech skills. The prospect of a people crisis has sent numerous agencies scrambling to devise strategies for 'work force planning.'" (Washington Post)

Bereavement Policies Changing As More Boomers Face Loss
Excerpt: "For most of the 8 million Americans a year who grieve the loss of a loved one, bereavement can be a black hole of employment policy, even though the Society for Human Resource Management reports that nine out of 10 employers allow bereavement leave. The situation is easing, however, now that 76 million aging baby boomers are dealing with the deaths of parents, siblings and spouses, and occupants of the executive suite are among those in need of grieving time." (StarTribune.com)

Sleep: The New Status Symbol
Excerpt: "Afternoon naps might be growing more popular in some companies, but we still wear our lack of sleep-- and our ability to do without it-- like a badge of honor. But according to WSJ writer Nancy Ann Jeffrey, that trend is beginning to reverse itself. In addition to Amazon's Bezos, she found a half-dozen other high-level execs who claimed the 'right' to a full eight hours." (TrainingSupersite.com)

Enrollee Mix, Treatment Intensity, and Cost in Competing Indemnity and HMO Plans
Link to a Working Paper available for downloading from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Excerpt: "We examine why managed care plans are less expensive than traditional indemnity insurance plans. Our database consists of the insurance experiences of over 200,000 state and local employees in Massachusetts and their families, who are insured in a single pool. Within this group, average HMO costs are 40 percent below those of the indemnity plan." (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper)

New Yorkers Give Two Thumbs Up To New HMO Treatment-Review System
Excerpt: "A fledgling HMO reform law seems to be working in New York for both patients and health insurers. According to a study by the New York Department of Insurance of the state's year-old external review law, 331 patients who were denied coverage for medical procedures during the past 12 months had their cases overturned upon appeal to an independent review panel." (insure.com)

HMO Failure Spurs Massachusetts To Adopt Extensive Patient Reforms
Excerpt: "Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci has signed into law the Patients Bill of Rights ... patients of HMOs and other managed care plans will be able to seek emergency room care in situations when a 'prudent layperson' would do so, without first gaining approval from their health insurer.... Patients whose treatment coverage is denied and who have exhausted their HMO's internal appeals process will be able to take their case to an independent external review board for a final determination." (insure.com)

Buying Tips For Long-Term Care Policies
Excerpt: "Long-term care insurance pays for services that Medicare and Medigap don't over an extended period, such as home care, adult day care, assisted living and nursing home care. It's not cheap. And it's not for everyone." (Baltimore Sun)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Follow-Up: Exclusion of Stock-Based Compensation from Overtime Pay Determinations
Excerpt: "The [Worker Economic Opportunity Act] provides an exemption to the inclusion of such compensation in overtime determinations ... its effective date is August 16, 2000. This Legal Alert highlights the key features of the Act and the requirements for meeting the exemption. The DOL will issue regulations. Until then, stock options for non-exempt employees should be granted either before August 16, 2000 or in careful compliance with the Act." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

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