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Welfare Plans Edition

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September 27, 2000

Another Question is Answered in the Eldercare: The Work/Life Issue Q&A Column
I am a 53 year-old nurse. I came to care for my parents a year ago and put my career on hold. My dad passed away in January, and I am left to care for my mom. Her benefits were cut after dad died. I am on limited funds. I had to hire a helper in May because my mom has Alzheimer's. Is there a program that will pay me for my services and help me out? I still have obligations also. (BenefitsLink.com)

Relying on Estranged Spouse to Deliver COBRA Notices is Not a Good Idea
Excerpt: "First, we have to report the court's un-called-for putdown of our chosen line of work: 'in the realm of ERISA suits. . . the factual setting for this case may even pass as sensational and riveting.' Phillips v. Saratoga Harness Racing ..." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Age Discrimination in Retiree Health Benefits
Excerpt: "... Erie County dropped its prior indemnity plan for retiree health benefits and split its retirees into two groups reflecting the somewhat different policy options the insurer made available to each group. For retirees who were Medicare eligible ... it offered an HMO Medicare supplemental benefit designed under contract with Medicare. For retirees not Medicare eligible (those under age 65), it offered a point of service plan ..." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Bonus Days in Hot Seller's Market
Excerpt: "In a time of more information technology and skilled technical job openings than ever before, companies such as [Texas Instruments] are getting creative with recruiting and serious about employee retention. The results are offerings from signing bonuses and stock options to flextime and relaxed dress codes." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Put Some Work into Negotiating Vacations
Excerpt: "[J]ob seekers must negotiate the vacation component of their hiring package, which can be a delicate matter. First of all, it is considered bad form to focus on perks in the first interview. It's customary, not to mention smart, to avoid the subject of vacation until the final stages of interviewing. I've seen candidates complete multiple levels of interviews right up until the offer is being drafted before they even broach the subject. Or, at least, the confident ones do." (Seattle Times)

Long-Term Care Bill for Federal Employees Signed by President
Excerpt: "While the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) allowed long-term care insurance policies to be treated the same as accident and health insurance policies under the tax code, in that employer contributions are deductible and benefits are not taxable up to a copay of $175/day, LTC insurance has yet to become popular in the private sector market." (The Segal Company)

Health Care Costs Will Pinch Employers
(Washington Post)

No Election-Year Consensus on Healthcare Issues
Excerpt: "... the only major health care measure likely to be signed into law before a new president occupies the White House is in response to threats from hospitals and nursing homes to shut down if Medicare cuts of three years ago are not restored." (DrKoop.com)

New Jersey Senate Panel OKs Patients' Right To Sue HMOs
Excerpt: "The right-to-sue bill, if passed and signed into law by Governor Whitman, would make New Jersey one of only a handful of states where patients could sue HMOs for negligence due to denial or delay of care that adversely impacts their health." (CNNfn.com)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

How Many Employees Can Be Stuffed under a Top-Hat Plan?
Analysis of Demery v. Extebank Deferred Compensation Plan (2d Cir. 6/15/00) (Nixon Peabody LLP)

6th Cir.: ERISA Preempts State Common Law of 'Undue Influence' on ERISA Plan Participant
Excerpt: "[W]hether Tinsley is entitled to the proceeds from Williams's life insurance plan due to the alleged forgery ... on the beneficiary designation change form or the alleged exercise of undue influence ... is preempted by ERISA and governed by federal law.... Since ERISA does not contain any provisions regulating the problem of beneficiary designations that are forged, the result of undue influence, or otherwise improperly procured, it appears that federal common law must apply..." (United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit)

DOL Advisory Opinion 2000-10A Released
Excerpt: "This responds to your request for an advisory opinion concerning the status of the Firefighters' Variable Supplements Fund (VS Fund) under Title I of ERISA ... we conclude that the VS Fund is a 'governmental plan' within the meaning of section 3(32) of ERISA ... [Here,] the VS Fund is the product of collective bargaining between the UFA and the City and has limited its coverage to employees of the City." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Domestic Partner Benefits Urged for Employees of Claremont, California
Excerpt: "The city would offer health insurance benefits to unmarried domestic partners of city employees, including same-sex partners, under a recommendation from Mayor Karen Rosenthal and Mayor Pro Tem Paul Held." (Los Angeles Times)

Opinion: Partner Benefits Are Competitively Smart, And Decent Too
Excerpt: "Government is constitutionally obliged to provide equal treatment under the law to all citizens -- none more so than its own employees. By offering benefits to the partners of employees living in one kind of committed relationship but not another, the state is demonstrating a bias that is inconsistent with its bedrock principles." (StarTribune.com)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

401(k) Administrator, Daily Valuation Plansfor CNA TRUST
in CA
Defined Contribution Plan Administratorsfor Alliance Benefit Group of Houston, Inc.
in TX
Defined Benefit Analystfor Paragon Consulting Group
in DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA
Writer - Fringe Benefitsfor www.firstdoor.com
in GA, NY
Century Sales Managerfor T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.
in MD
Pension Administratorfor Pension Financial Services
in GA

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