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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

December 11, 2000

Today's sponsor is 2e Corporation (click on banner for more information)
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Insurers Team Up for Electronic Claims
Excerpt: "Seven large companies have formed an Internet firm to speed up claims processing. But doctors won't get paid electronically." (American Medical News)

Court Approves $646,000 Deduction for Custom Building of House to Accommodate Medical Condition
Zipkin v. U.S. (D. Minn. 2000). Excerpt: "Consider excluding capital expenditures for property improvement (which can be expensive) from plan coverage. And if this case isn't a wake-up call for making sure that your plan has maximum reimbursement limits, well then, we don't know what is." (EBIA Weekly)

Another Question is Answered in the Cafeteria Plans Q&A Column
One of our employees is being terminated on December 31 as part of a reduction in force. He has been paying for his medical insurance coverage under our cafeteria plan, which has a July 1 to June 30 plan year. Can we salary reduce his severance pay on a pre-tax basis to pay for his COBRA coverage? (BenefitsLink.com)

Denial of Severance Benefits Reversed Where Decision Was Based on "False And Incomplete" Information
Yochum v. Barnett Banks, Inc. Severance Pay Plan (11th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "The court applied the [heightened arbitrary and capricious] standard, because the Committee reviewing Mr. Yochum's [severance pay] claim was made up of employees of [the acquiring company] NationsBank, which would fund any benefit that was awarded under the severance plan. The court then went on to review the facts surrounding the offer of employment from NationsBank and the employee's claim for benefits." (EBIA Weekly)

6th Cir.: California's Antisubrogation Law Applied to Insured Health Plan Not Preempted by ERISA
Medical Mutual of Ohio v. DeSoto (6th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "Under the participant's employer-sponsored group health plan, the insurer reimbursed all medical expenses flowing from the [participant's] accident and from the allegedly negligent surgery--over $600,000 in total. The participant later sued the hospital for medical malpractice ... The plan insurer then sued the participant to enforce its right of reimbursement found in the certificate of insurance ..." (EBIA Weekly)

AmWest to Offer Partner Benefits
Excerpt: "America West Airlines, following the lead of most major airlines, announced Thursday that it will offer domestic-partner benefits to its 14,000 employees next year. Workers who are in 'committed relationships' can obtain medical and dental health insurance and travel privileges for their partners of the same or opposite sex." (The Arizona Republic)

EEOC to Give Workers More Leeway in Age-Bias Suits
Excerpt: " The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plans to issue new regulations today that allow people who accept severance pay in exchange for waiving their right to sue for age discrimination to challenge those agreements in court without having to first give back that money." (Washington Post)

Medical Costs Are Rising and Insurance Premiums Could Jump 20%-- Signs That Managed Care Isn't Work
Excerpt: "Some say managed care failed. Others say Americans rejected it without giving it enough of a chance. Either way, experts agree that no one now has a good idea how to control costs without it. And the cost problem is clearly not going to go away ..." (USA Today)

U.S. Group Seeks Better Health Care For Employees
Excerpt: "Some of the biggest U.S. companies are demanding better medical treatment for their employees or they will take their billions of health care dollars to hospitals that have fewer preventable deaths. The Leapfrog Group, comprising 70 businesses and organizations including AT&T Corp., General Electric Co. and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, plans to offer hospitals incentives to improve quality, especially in reducing preventable deaths." (Reuters via Excite! News)

Consumers Facing Sharp Rise in Health Costs
Excerpt: "Consumers across the country will face double-digit increases in their health care costs starting next month, reflecting the biggest surge in medical inflation since the early 1990's." (New York Times; free registration required)

Opinion: HMO Reform Now! The American People Have Been in The Waiting Room Long Enough
Excerpt: "The American people have been in the waiting room long enough. We should pass a meaningful Patients' Bill of Rights and send a clear message to the American people that we are committed to working together across party lines. This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. It's about fairness, common sense and the crucial medical treatments that can mean the difference between life or death-- no matter what political party you belong to." (Senator Tom Harkin, in the Des Moines Register)

The LTC Triathlon: Long-Term Care's Race for Survival (PDF)
Excerpt: "No one gives much attention or credence to the private sector components that struggle, against ever-increasing odds, to build, operate and maintain the long-term care service delivery system. The purpose of this study was to listen to a sample of the Financiers, Providers and Insurers of long-term care, give their point of view a voice, and begin the search for a better way." (Center for Long-Term Care Financing)

Long-Term Care: It's a Wonderful Life? (Real Audio files)
Audio files of conference held on December 8, 2000. Excerpt: "A Primer on Trends, Options, Financing and Policy." (Alliance for Health Reform)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser Entrust Administration, Inc.
Since 1981 Entrust Administration Inc. has provided trust, pension administration, and recordkeeping services to individuals and corporations who wish to include non-traditional assets as part of their tax-deferred and tax-free portfolios. For more information visit their site at www.entrustadmin.com

Election 2000: Unique Legislative Challenges Face Next President
Excerpt: "Because of the unique political climate that will exist in 2001, the corporate community could be well positioned to influence the shape and direction of this evolving legislative agenda." (Ernst & Young LLP)

Congress Scuttles Tax Bill
December 6. Excerpt: "Republican leaders announced yesterday that they were shelving H.R. 2614, the tax relief bill that contains the bipartisan retirement savings reform package, and would not act on any tax relief measures in the remaining days of the lame duck session." (American Benefits Council)

Court Says Mack Didn't Violate ERISA By Not Rehiring Workers
Excerpt: "A suit brought by 78 former Mack workers (Williams v. Mack Truck Inc.) claimed that the company had violated ERISA rules when it refused to hire them after extensive layoffs in 1987. The employees were not vested in Mack's pension plan at the time they were laid off." (Truckinginfo.com)

St. Louis Primed to Drop Tax on Stock Options
Excerpt: "A St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee voted this week to put an end to the earnings tax on stock options in an effort to retain and attract new businesses to the city." (OptionWealth.com)

AOL, Time Warner to Offer Stock Options to All Employees
Excerpt: "America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc. plan to give stock options to all 85,000 employees shortly after their merger is completed, as part of an effort that underscores a shift to a more equity-based compensation at the combined company." (MSNBC.com)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

Managing Actuaryfor New York Life Benefit Services LLC
in MA
Retirement Administratorfor Delaware Investments
in PA
Defined Contribution Plan Administrator/Conversionfor an investment management company
in NY
Pension Administratorfor Pension Performance, Inc.
in IL

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