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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

October 26, 2000

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HIPAA Rules on Health Care Electronic Data Transfers Affect Health Providers and Employers
Excerpt: "HIPAA's final rules for health care electronic transactions standards were released in August, giving providers and plans more than two years to bring their software and data coding systems into compliance. Standards for the first report of injury and claims attachments (also required by HIPAA) will be adopted at a later date." (Deloitte & Touche)

COBRA and Household Health Insurance Decisions
Excerpt: "In this project, we examine health insurance decisions of families after the onset of unemployment, retirement, or a reduction in hours of work by either the husband or wife.... Overall, our results suggest that the estimated effect of COBRA on own or spouse's coverage is small.... These results reinforce the idea that it is important to consider health insurance options for the entire family when considering the effects of insurance continuation mandates such as COBRA." (Carolyn Looff and Associates, for the U.S. Department of Labor)

Miami Hearing Could Bring HMO Win In Class Actions
Excerpt: "A U.S. District Court judge is scheduled to hold a hearing in Miami Thursday on motions to dismiss class action lawsuits against several publicly traded managed-care companies. The plaintiffs, represented by some high-powered attorneys, contend that managed-care companies have violated racketeering laws by misleading consumers about the quality of health care." (Dow Jones, via Excite! News)

Texas Appeals to U.S. Supreme Court on Fifth Circuit's Ruling Preempting State HMO Law
Excerpt: "Texas Attorney General John Cornyn has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision that struck down a Texas law that provides for independent reviews of patient disputes with insurers." (Modern Healthcare)

Fighting Off Question 5, HMOs Delay Salary Data
Excerpt: "As they spend millions of dollars fighting a ballot question that calls for universal health coverage, the state's major health insurers have moved to conceal their most politically sensitive expenditures: salaries for their executives." (Boston Globe)

Here Comes Paid Parental Leave
Excerpt: "If your company employs fewer than 50 people, exempting it from the 1993 Family & Medical Leave Act, chances are you don't grant the new parents in your employ the 12-week unpaid leave that the law requires. It's not that you're a Grinch: While 'family-friendly' policies sound great, studies show fewer and fewer small companies can afford ." (Business Week; free registration required)

DOL To Issue MEWA Regs Designed to Stop False Claims of Exemption from State Regulation
Excerpt: The rules are "for determining whether an employee welfare benefit plan is collectively bargained and therefore is exempt from state regulations governing multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs). The proposed rules are intended to alleviate problems created by certain MEWA operators who attempt to avoid state insurance regulation by falsely claiming that MEWA is a collectively bargained plan." (U.S. Department of Labor)

SSRN Announces New Journal of Abstracts: Employee Benefits, Compensation and Pension Law
Edited by Pamela Perun of the Urban Institute, it will contain "abstracts of working papers, forthcoming articles, and recently published articles on fringe benefits, health benefits, qualified and non-qualified pension plans, individual retirement accounts, executive compensation, disability, worker's compensation, Social Security, ERISA and related tax law. It will also feature articles on the economic and legal aspects of retirement income policy in the U.S. and abroad." (Social Sciences Research Network)

Employers Still Wary of 'Defined Contribution' Health Insurance Plans
Excerpt: "It may be a good way to save money on insurance premiums, but employers are still wary of using a "defined contribution" approach to offer health insurance benefits for employees, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change." (Medscape; free registration required)

HMOs' Budgets at Risk in Massachusetts If Question 5 Passes in November
Excerpt: "Most of the state's HMOs will have to cut administrative costs by millions of dollars if a proposal they have been working to defeat is passed by voters in November, advocates say. Question 5 on the ballot limits administrative spending by managed care companies to 10 percent, less than many now designate to costs such as advertising, claims processing and disease management programs." (Boston Herald)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Employee Plan Disclosures: It's Cheaper to Communicate than to Litigate -- Part 1
Excerpt: "A look at some of the courts' comments in ERISA disclosure cases and a refresher course in fiduciary duties may save thousands of dollars in legal fees and, just as important, may preserve employee goodwill and forestall suits in the first place. One attitude that sponsors would be wise to discard immediately is: 'ERISA doesn't require us to disclose that specific information. So we aren't going to.'" (Deloitte & Touche)

Exotic Options: Use Caution
Excerpt: "Exotic Options are nonqualified stock options with no ascertainable market value. The employee is not taxed at issue, but when the option is exercised, the employee recognizes ordinary income to the extent the value of the underlying asset exceeds the strike price.... When the promised compensation takes the form of property--the underlying asset--the transfer to the retiree is subject to Section 83, and the arrangement avoids the risk of forfeiture rule of Section 457(f)." (National Underwriter Company)

Graef Crystal: Brooks Sold Sotheby's Holders Short
(Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

Employee Benefits Consultant- Non-discrimination Testingfor Fidelity Investments
Account Managerfor Melita-McDonald Insurance Services, Inc.
in CA
International Compensation and Benefits Consultantfor Microsoft
in WA
Retirement Plan Coordinatorfor The American Funds Group
in TX
Benefits Design managerfor Tribune Company
in IL, IN
Relationship Managerfor Fidelity Investments
in TX
Benefit Plan Analystfor Leland James Service Corporation
in OR
Mgr. of Retirement Plan Admin.for Rehmann Robson, Regional Public Accounting Firm
in MI
Benefits Managerfor First Call Personnel Services
in TX
e401(K) Reporting & Compliance Specialistfor Fidelity Investments
in TX
Payroll Project Managerfor Fidelity Investments
in TX
Tax Specialist 5500for Fidelity Investments
in TX
Benefits Software Sales Professionalfor DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL
Senior Benefits Analystfor Morrison & Foerster, LLP, a large international law firm with 18 offices worldwide
in CA
in CA
401(k) Marketing/ Sales Representative - Investment Specialistfor Benefit Services Corporation, a subsidiary of METLIFE, is a 401(k) plan administrator with 29 years of specialized experience in defined contribution recordkeeping.
in GA
Benefits Specialist - Qualified Plans Designfor ExxonMobil Corporation
in TX
Business Development Consultant-Benefits Administrationfor Towers Perrin
in CA, IL, MA, MD, NJ, PA

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