The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 29 - 30, 2000
Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser SHPS, Inc.
SHPS is in the business of providing people and technology solutions to companies, government agencies, and health care plans and organizations. Nationwide, nearly 1,100 organizations depend on SHPS for quality health care, efficient benefits management and outstanding results. More than 60 Fortune 500 corporations trust SHPS for powerful business solutions in health care management, employee benefits administration, or both. And, that trust has launched SHPS to the very top of its field.
First HIPAA Rules Published
Excerpt: "Uniform electronic data standards are the first step in a long road to cut administrative waste in the health care system. Rules on patient privacy are expected by year's end." (Medscape; free registration required)
Substitution of Paid Leave for Unpaid Leave Addressed (PDF)
Excerpt: "On June 27, 2000, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision in the continuing battle over the substitution of paid leave for unpaid Family and Medical Leave. In Aurora Medical Group v. Department of Workforce Development, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin held that the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Law, in regards to its substitution provisions, is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended." (Davis & Kuelthau, s.c.)
Preserving the Group Health Plan Right of Recovery (PDF)
Excerpt: "The Seventh Circuit ... recently held that Walmart Stores, Inc.'s self-insured group health plan did not have the right to recover the first dollar received by an injured individual, despite having 'dollar one' recovery language in its documents. In a situation where a plan participant is injured, receives benefits under the plan, sues and recovers damages from a thrid party, 'dollar one' recovery language states that the plan gets reimbursed first, even before the individual." (Davis & Kuelthau, s.c.)
Perk Practice in the United Kingdom
Excerpt: "[T]here is evidence that an increasing number of firms are keen to foster a similarly paternalistic culture of loyalty. One recent example of this came from management consultants Arthur Andersen who announced that they are to hand out £10,000 "golden hellos" to welcome all new graduate trainees... Elsewhere, particularly in [London], where the dot.com brain drain is hitting staffing levels, companies are trying to hang on to people by introducing supermarket-style reward points." (The Guardian Unlimited)
Workplace Management of Telecommuters Demands Policy, Attitude Adjustments
Excerpt: "While companies have been quick to adapt to the opportunities to do business using the Internet, they still are grappling with the management challenges the wired workplace presents. Nowhere are the challenges greater than in telecommuting, says a Purdue University human resources expert." (AScribe News)
Companies Learn Benefit Of Tuition Reimbursement
Excerpt: "In a recent Hewitt study of 460 companies, 84 percent report they pay for degree programs; 77 percent reimburse the cost of fees and books; and 75 percent pay for courses related to the employee's job." (Chicago Tribune)
Tax-Free Medical Savings May End--Law Expires Dec. 31 Unless Congress Renews, Revamps Current Limits
Excerpt: "Born out of political compromise and billed as a radical, new way to get adequate health care coverage, medical savings accounts may die at year's end if supporters can't find a way to get them to more people. The accounts are tax free, earmarked for spending only on medical care, and come with an insurance policy that covers big-ticket items like prolonged hospitalization. Those who have MSAs rave about them. But there's a catch." (Gannett News Service)
Another Question is Answered in Our ERISA Q&A Column
When was the $100 per day penalty referred to in the Statement of ERISA Rights regarding failure to provide information increased to $110 per day? By what authority did it go into effect? (BenefitsLink.com)
Connecticut Clarifies Prompt-Pay Law For Health Claims
Excerpt: "After receiving numerous complaints in 1999 from Connecticut consumers and doctors who were not getting their bills paid on time, the Connecticut Department of Insurance (DOI) has issued a bulletin to insurers that outlines when health insurers and HMOs are officially 'on the clock' when it comes to paying bills." (insure.com)
AMA Pressures Thompson, Frist To Back Broader Patient Rights Bill
Excerpt: "The American Medical Association is publishing newspaper ads and holding press conferences in Tennessee today and Thursday to prompt consumers to urge Sens. Bill Frist and Fred Thompson to back a broader patients' bill of rights. Frist, a physician who has been a key shaper of the Senate patients' rights bill, and Thompson, an attorney, were among Republicans who narrowly approved one bill June 29, which the AMA criticizes as 'an HMO protection act.'" (KnoxNews.com)
New Jersey "Patients' Right to Sue" Legislation Gains Two Key Backers
Excerpt: "[T]wo of [New Jersey's] top elected leaders say they plan a top-priority push this fall to give 3 million New Jerseyans the right to sue their HMOs and health insurance companies for malpractice. The proposal, now contained in a bill that had been moving slowly through the Legislature, is expected to be the centerpiece of a new '24-point' health-care reform plan being unveiled today by Senate President Donald T. DiFrancesco, R-Union, a potential Republican candidate for governor." (The [Trenton NJ] Record)
Opinion: Gore, Bush Try Worn Remedies For Health Care
Excerpt: "Now, as health care returns to the center stage of presidential politics, both sides are falling back on past triumphs. Vice President Al Gore is betting that he can recapture the magic of 1992, as he pushes his plans to expand health insurance coverage and include a prescription drug benefit in Medicare. Texas Gov. George W. Bush is issuing an equally nostalgic cry: socialized medicine." (Baltimore Sun)
Collection of New Online Resources for People Involved with Health Policy
Excerpt: "30 Years of Working for Justice in Health Care for Low Income People" (National Health Law Program (NHeLP))
Individual Accounts for Pension and Welfare Plans: Pros and Cons
Excerpt: "Individual accounts have been proposed as a substitute for traditional welfare benefits in a number of different countries. The most common application of individual accounts is to pensions but other applications have been proposed such as to unemployment benefits and health. Account systems typically combine savings (which enables individuals to self-insure through smoothing income) with pure insurance for old-age poverty, disability and ill health." (The Centre for Pensions and Social Insurance (City University, London))
(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)
Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Foster, P.C.
David Waddell, a benefits attorney with Fraser Trebilock Davis & Foster, P.C. in Detroit, Michigan, has launched a new website for clients and other employers compiling articles on benefits topics by benefits attorneys at www.MyBenefitsLawyer.com. Mr. Waddell is accepting article submissions from attorneys nationwide for possible inclusion on the site.
Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser ARAG Group
LawExpress.com empowers employees to take control of their legal situations and protects the important things in your employees' lives at no cost to you. By using LawExpress, your employees can: ∑Learn about their legal situation ∑Purchase/create their own legal documents ∑Get help in finding an attorney ∑Talk to a telephone attorney to get quick and inexpensive legal advice For more information e-mail email@example.com
Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser About Your Benefits, Inc.
Printed Benefit Statements and On-Line Employee Benefit Profiles - David Kaufman and Jay Marchant, both highly experienced consultants in Personalized Benefit Communication, are the principals behind About Your Benefits, Inc. The service offerings from this newly expanded group include two different styles of Printed Benefit Statements and an Online Statement Service that will permit employees to access benefit information via the web.
Another Question is Answered in Our ERISA Q&A Column
If a fiduciary (who is protected by a "hold harmless" provision) is determined by a court to be not liable for a breach of fiduciary duty that had been alleged, can the plan sponsor pay for the fiduciary's legal fees? (BenefitsLink.com)
Analysis: Bins v. Exxon Co. USA (9th Cir. 2000)
Excerpt: "[There is no] affirmative duty to disclose information about benefit enhancements after amendment is under serious consideration, but employer, if it has agreed to follow up with an inquiring employee, must provide affirmative disclosure when the proposal later comes under serious consideration." (TRI Pension Services)
Graef Crystal: Joseph Galli Sure Loves His Fat Signing Bonuses
Excerpt: "After a 13-month stint as chief operating officer of Amazon.com Inc., where he collected a signing bonus of $2.9 million and a one-year anniversary bonus of $3 million, Galli jumped ship this summer to VerticalNet, where he immediately pocketed a $4 million welcome-aboard present." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)
Investors May Now Eye Costs of Stock Options
Excerpt: "It is one of the prettiest lies in corporate America. Stock options dispensed to executives and workers are not accounted for as an employee expense, even though they clearly are. So companies that reward their employees with stock options do not include the costs of those programs in their overall expenses, giving their earnings a boost." (New York Times; free registration required)
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