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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

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October 6 - 9, 2000

Agencies Respond To Requests For Extension Of Form 5500 Deadline
Excerpt: "[T]he agencies are encouraging filers who will be unable to meet their filing deadline to attach a statement to their filing explaining the reasons for the delay. 'Where a statement establishes reasonable cause for the late filing, the agencies will not take any further action solely as a result of the late [Form 5500] filing,' [Leslie B. Kramerich, Acting Assistant Secretary for PWBA] said." (U.S. Department of Labor)

7th Cir. Decision Appears To Increase Employers' COBRA Notification Requirements
Excerpt: "On August 18, 2000, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided Bowerman v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The Bowerman decision could be interpreted to increase materially an employer's obligations to inform Qualified Beneficiaries about the details of their COBRA coverage and possible future active employee coverage, at least in certain situations." (COBRA Quarterly)

Participant on Medical Leave of Absence Was Eligible for Benefits Where Plan Didn't Define 'Active'
Tester v. Reliance Ins. Co. (4th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "The participant in this case was covered under an employer-sponsored life insurance policy and died while on a medical leave of absence. The insurer denied the surviving spouse's claim for benefits on the basis that the participant was not an active employee at the time of death, as required by the plan." (EBIA Weekly)

Impact On Health Care Costs Of Extending Health Benefits To Same-Sex Couples By U.S. Employers
Excerpt: "While many are aware of this trend in corporate practice, it may surprise some to learn that the decision to extend such benefits is increasingly driven solely by the pursuit of politically correct goals like 'fairness' and not by economic analysis." (Family Research Council)

Family Research Council's Talking Points: Domestic Partnerships
Excerpt: "In their attempts to legalize 'marriage' between two people of the same sex, homosexual activists have temporarily settled for marriage in all but name. 'Domestic partnerships' or 'civil unions' are an extension of marital benefits to unmarried couples (mostly same-sex couples) in corporations and in the law. In reality, they are better defined as sex-partner subsidies." (Family Research Council)

Delta Airlines to Provide Domestic Partner Benefits
(New York Times; free registration required)

What Every Employer Should Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act
Guest article by attorney Jacqueline E. Kalk. (Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy, L.L.P.)

Enron to Offer Dell PCs, Net Access to 15,000 Employees

Why Retirees Should Think Twice About Dropping Federal Health Coverage
Excerpt: "As one retiree, who is covered by Medicare, asked, 'Why pay the full premium when you only get a percentage of its coverage?' The short answer: prescription drugs." (Washington Post)

Clinton Plans to Issue Rules Expanding Patients' Rights
Excerpt: "With legislation to define patients' rights languishing in Congress, Clinton administration officials say they will soon issue rules that establish many of the same protections for most Americans with private health insurance. The rules, to be issued in final form before Election Day, will set new federal standards for the handling of claims under employee health benefit plans, the officials said." (New York Times; free registration required)

Opinion: Managed Care Gets Free Ride in Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health
Excerpt: "While emphasis on educating the public about both the legitimacy of mental illness and the possibility of effective treatment is welcome, the report is weak in the area of prejudice against mental illness by insurance companies. What good will derive from educating the public to pursue treatment for mental illness when health insurance creates artificial and special barriers to avoid paying for such treatment?" (Medscape; free registration required)

Analysts Predict Consumer Backlash Due to Rising Costs in Health Care

HMO Patient Self-Defense Kit
Excerpt: "How can patients or their allies help themselves in a system that is set up not to help get treatment? Your tactics must be those of negotiation. Everything is negotiable--with the HMO, the HMO doctor, the HMO hospital. In a negotiation, establishing what is reasonable is the goal." (Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights)

AMA: Patients' Bill Of Rights Now Has Clear Majority
Excerpt: "The AMA today announced that a clear majority now exists in both the House and the Senate to pass a real patients' bill of rights. Joined by five Republican lawmakers this morning on Capitol Hill, the AMA said today marked a 'step forward in time,' and urged Sen. Donald Nickles (R, Okla.) to let the House and Senate vote so that the bipartisan patients' bill of rights can become law/" (American Medical Association)

Opinion: Group Most In Need of Health Care Is Republican Leadership in Congress
Excerpt: "After suffering setbacks from a series of self-inflicted political wounds during their stubborn opposition to a proposed patients bill of rights, the GOP leadership and other Republican extremists in the House of Representatives were virtually trampled last week by the Democratic-led vote of 275 to 151 to approve the measure." (Boston Globe)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Plan Must Pay Death Benefits to Beneficiaries Designated by Employee in Violation of Divorce Order
Central States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Howell (6th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "The Sixth Circuit is one of the few federal Courts of Appeal that will apply ERISA preemption analysis to strictly enforce the designated beneficiary provisions of life insurance and other ERISA plans even where state court orders (like divorce decrees or child support orders) require payment of benefits to different beneficiaries." (EBIA Weekly)

IRS Notice 2000-56: Contribution of Parent Corp's Stock to Rabbi Trust for Subsidiary's Employees
Excerpt: "This notice provides guidance on which entity is treated as the grantor and owner of a grantor trust when a parent corporation contributes its stock to a rabbi trust for the benefit of the employees of a subsidiary." (Internal Revenue Service)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

401(k) Plan Consultantsfor Trustar Retirement Services
in MA
Defined Benefit Specialist IIfor American Century Investments
in MO
Defined Benefit Specialist Ifor American Century Investments
in MO
401(k) Administratorfor Associated Pension Consultants
in CA
Benefits Lawyerfor Firstdoor.com
in GA
Benefits Learning Specialistfor Towers Perrin
in PA, VA
National Account Executivefor The GlobalQuest Group
in CA, DC, GA, IL, MI, MO, NY, PA, TX
DC Administrator/Consultantfor 401(k)
in OR, WA
In-House ERISA/Employee Benefits Attorneyfor Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Specialist
in CA
Regional Vice President - West Coastfor Nation's fastest-growing major life insurance group of the past decade
in AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, OR
Pension Analystfor HEREIU Trust Funds
in IL
Pension Benefits Specialist (Actuarial)for HEREIU Trust Funds
in IL
Employee Benefits Specialistfor HEREIU Welfare/Pension Funds
in IL

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