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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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January 25, 2002 - 6,390 subscribers
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(Help BenefitsLink to provide this newsletter at no charge to you -- our sponsors pay our way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Here Comes Your New Health Plan
Excerpt: "The innovation that's generating the most interest in the industry: a new form of coverage called the consumer-driven plan." (SmartMoney.com via Yahoo! Finance)

California Governor Unveils Plan to Limit Hospital Nurses to 5 Patients
Excerpt: "'This is the most sweeping health care reform that we've seen,' said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Assn., one of the unions that represents registered nurses.... Kaiser Permanente, the state's largest HMO ... voluntarily pledged last year to hire one nurse for every four patients in its large medical and surgical units, which will cost up to $200 million and require recruiting 2,000 more nurses." (Los Angeles Times)

Georgia Fines Humana Again for Slow Claims Payments
Excerpt: "Georgia has fined Humana Employers Health Care of Georgia Inc. $400,000 for violating the state's prompt pay law, the second time in as many years that the HMO has been fined for dragging its feet on paying claims." (insure.com)

Many H.M.O.'s for the Elderly Make Deep Cuts in Drug Aid
Excerpt: "The nation's largest health insurers, which recruited elderly people to Medicare H.M.O.'s by dangling offers of free prescriptions, are eliminating drug coverage or demanding sharply higher payments for drugs and treatments from some of their sickest members." (New York Times; free registration required)

Chart of Various Proposals to Allow Carryforward of Amounts in Flexible Spending Accounts (PDF)
Includes description of items in the administration's 2002 budget supporting limited rollover or other use of unspent moneys in FSAs. (American Benefits Council)

Only Actual Medical Expenses Can Be Recouped When COBRA Coverage Improperly Terminated
Excerpt: "Under ERISA's recovery-of-benefits provision, an employer, insurer and plan administrator cannot be held liable for medical expenses that a qualified beneficiary would have incurred if her COBRA coverage had not been improperly terminated, a federal district court in Wisconsin noted. Such a claim is essentially one for compensatory damages ... the court ruled." (Thompson Publishing Group)

WHCRA Does Not Provide for Private Right to Sue
Excerpt: "A separate private right to sue does not exist under the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), a federal district court in Iowa ruled. Rather, the only remedies available under the law for ERISA plan participants are those provided by ERISA's civil enforcement provisions." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Overview: DOL Guidance on New Claims Procedure Regulations
Excerpt: "The rules will apply to group health plans beginning the first day of the first plan year on or after July 1, 2002, but not later than Jan. 1, 2003." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Senate Bill Would Provide Tax Credits For Employers' "Telework Arrangements"
Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) has introduced the Teleworking Advancement Act (S. 1856), which is intended to promote employer and employee participation in telework arrangements. The bill would provide tax credits to encourage employers to adopt telework arrangements and establish a two-year pilot program to raise awareness about telecommuting among small employers. (Spencernet)

Health Benefits Coalition Resumes Ad Campaign Against Patients' Bill of Rights
Excerpt: "The Health Benefits Coalition -- a group of employers, insurance companies and business executives -- has resumed running advertisements urging Congress not to pass patients' rights legislation, CongressDaily reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

(Following items are in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

New Options in Nonqualified Retirement Plans
Excerpt: "What limits do executives and middle managers face when saving through their qualified retirement plans? For 2002 covered compensation is capped at $200,000, 401(k) elective deferrals at $11,000, and annual additions from all sources at $40,000. In addition, qualified retirement plans may impose their own restrictions ..." (The Vanguard Group, Inc.)

Enron Executives' Benefits Kept Flowing
Excerpt: "According to company filings, Enron will pay Lay a pension estimated at $475,042 a year for life. In addition, as part of an agreement Lay signed with the company in 1996, it agreed to pay a total of $1.25 million in insurance premiums through 2001 on a $12 million life insurance policy. Other executives have similar pension or insurance agreements with Enron." (Wall Street Journal via MSNBC.com)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Pension Attorney for Sheridan and Associates, Inc.
Pension Administrator for Danziger & Markhoff LLP
Sr. Benefits Analyst for Lyondell Chemical Company
Account Manager for Vinings Management Corporation
Compliance Specialist for The Segal Company

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
2002 Mid-Atlantic Benefits Conferencein PA on May 16, 2002
presented by IRS and ASPA
2002 Northeast Key Benefits Conferencein MA on June 13, 2002
presented by IRS and ASPA
2002 Northeast Key Benefits Conferencein NY on June 14, 2002
presented by IRS and ASPA
Communicating Employee Benefits: Fundamentals, Opportunities and Toolsin MD on February 21, 2002
presented by The Baltimore Chapter of ISCEBS
2002 Business Leadership Conferencein NV on May 4, 2002
presented by ASPA
FMLA, COBRA (including HIPAA portability), Section 125, and HIPAA Privacy - Richmondin VA on April 2, 2002
presented by A.E. Roberts Company
FMLA, COBRA (including HIPAA portability), Section 125, and HIPAA Privacy - Cincinnatiin OH on April 2, 2002
presented by A.E. Roberts Company
2003 Los Angeles Benefits Conferencein CA on January 30, 2003
presented by IRS and ASPA
U.S. Defined Contribution Plans Overview Coursein FL on March 4, 2002
presented by Society of Professional Administrators and Recordkeepers (SPARK)

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

Copyright 2001 BenefitsLink.com, Inc., but you may freely distribute this email newsletter in whole. This newsletter is edited by David Rhett Baker, J.D.