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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

November 20, 2000

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Online Educational Tools Seek to Further Managed Care's Cost, Quality Goals
Excerpt: "But increasingly, distinctions between the health care system and managed care are becoming irrelevant, [Mark Bloomberg, MD, MBA] said. 'I don't see managed care as separate-- managed care is the health care system,' [he] said. With payers and consumers putting increased emphasis on improving the system's quality and efficiency, managed care needs to be viewed as integral to those efforts." (Medscape; free registration required)

Eight HMOs Financially Back Medunite To Erase Paperwork
Excerpt: "Eight HMOs have banded together to form MedUnite, a 'real-time' transaction system designed to smooth the billing, claim submission, and eligibility process for health care providers." (insure.com)

DataPath Launches Website To Help Simplify Employee Change-Of-Status Issues
Excerpt: "DataPath, Inc. today announced the launch of Change Of Status.com (http://www.changeofstatus.com), a freely available, interactive website designed to help employees, employers and benefits professionals cut through the clutter and confusion created when an employee modifies their benefit elections within a cafeteria plan governed by section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code." (DataPath press release)

Vitamins are Reimbursable Under a Health FSA Only if They Cannot be Obtained Without a Prescription
Article about IRS Information Letter 2000-0080 (May 23, 2000). Excerpt: "In this Information Letter, the IRS responded to an inquiry about the whether vitamins and natural medicines are reimbursable under a health flexible spending account (health FSA)." (EBIA Weekly)

IRS Releases Significantly Revised 2000 Version of Publication 502 (Medical and Dental Expenses)
(EBIA Weekly)

IRS Confirms Carryforward Option Available For Employer Funds In Flexible Spending Account
Excerpt: "IRS officials recently confirmed that although this is a gray area, allowing rollover of employer funds from year to year is permissible if the money is used for medical reimbursement only. This position does not, however, apply to salary-reduction or other pre-tax contributions by employees, even though they are treated as 'employer funds' for tax purposes." (The Segal Company)

Texas Asks Supreme Court To Review Decision On HMO Law's Independent Review Provision
Excerpt: "Texas attorney general John Cornyn has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of ... Corporate Health Insurance, Inc., et al. v. The Texas Department of Insurance [in which] the Fifth Circuit held that while ERISA did not preempt the liability provisions of Texas' HMO law, it did preempt the provision of the law that requires the independent review of health care treatment determinations to decide whether they were medically necessary." (Spencernet)

"Actively At Work" Clauses May Violate HIPAA
Excerpt: "The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) recently issued a Program Memorandum holding that an 'actively-at-work' provision that is used to discriminate against an individual based on a health status-related factor, such as disability, violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)." (The Segal Company)

Families USA, Health Plans Association To Announce Plan to Provide Coverage to Uninsured
Excerpt: "In an effort to turn pre-election talk of bipartisanship into reality, three major organizations will announce Monday they have agreed on a proposal that could expand health care coverage to about half of the nation's 42.6 million uninsured. The proposal envisions expanding existing federal and state programs for uninsured poor adults and children and granting new tax credits to employers to help cover low-income workers." (Hartford Courant via CTnow.com)

Health Coverage Proposal By Hospitals, HMOs and Families USA Falls Short of Real Fix
Excerpt: "The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today that the health coverage expansion model expected to be announced today by the Health Insurance Association of America, Families USA and the American Hospital Association falls short of a systemic fix to the uninsured problem because it leaves in tact unreasonable insurance overhead and profit expenditures, as well as abusive industry practices." (Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Year-End Checkup for Benefit Plans (PDF)
Excerpt: "This Alert will help identify year-end administrative issues that could lead to compliance or employee relations problems if not addressed before or fairly early in 2001. In addition, we have included reminders about recent legislative or regulatory developments affecting benefit plans or participants." (Aon Consulting)

9th Cir.: Arbitration Clause Upheld as Prerequisite to ERISA Benefits Litigation
Article describing Chappel v. Laboratory Corp. of America (9th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "Under the proposed DOL regulations on claims procedures issued in September 1998, mandatory arbitration of ERISA benefit claims could not be required as a prerequisite to suit under ERISA.... In this decision, the Ninth Circuit noted the regulations but refused to follow , given their still-proposed form." (EBIA Weekly)

DOL Gets $5.5 Million in Settlement with Time Warner in Independent Contractor Dispute
Excerpt: "'This settlement compensates misclassified independent contractors and temporary employees for their failure to be properly recognized as eligible participants under these plans,' said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

Consultant, Employee Benefitfor The Standard Insurance Company
401(k) Administratorfor Louis Kravitz & Associates, Inc.
in CA
Account Manager / Group Benefits Departmentfor Employee Benefits Consulting Firm
in FL
Director of Business Developmentfor ADP, Inc.
in NJ
Non-Qualified Benefit Consultantfor Clark Bardes Consulting/Compensation Resource Group, Inc
in Location Other Than U.S., ALL STATES
Benefits Consultant- Non-Qualified Plansfor Clark Bardes Consulting/Compensation Resource Group, Inc
in Location Other Than U.S., ALL STATES
Employee Benefits Tax Manager/Senior Managerfor Deloitte & Touche, Leading Professional Services Firm
in MN
Defined Benefit Conversion Specialistfor New York Life Benefit Services LLC
in MA
Administration Consulting Associatefor TPA Firm
in MA, NH
Benefits Consultantfor Clark Bardes Consulting/ Compensation Resource Group
Investment Strategist (2 openings; 1 in Denver, CO. 1 in Princeton, NJ)for Merrill Lynch
in CO, NJ

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