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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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February 12, 2002 - 6,451 subscribers
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The Coming E-volution in Health Care, Thanks to HIPAA
Excerpt: "Technically, it will be possible for doctors to comply with the HIPAA rules without using anything more high-tech than a stapler. But since they mandate certain things that will be much easier and cheaper with advanced technology ... many people in the industry believe that a new and sweeping version of high-tech health care is about to descend on us all. For many, that's good news." (Washington Post)

Bush Promotes Health Care Agenda, Including Expanded MSAs and FSAs
Excerpt: "On FSA expansion, the administration would allow employees to roll over up to $500 in unspent health care contributions to an FSA to use the following year or to contribute to their 401(k) plan. The FSA proposal would cost $8 billion over ten years." (CCH)

Bush Pitches Health Plan Help for Uninsured
Excerpt: "President Bush on Monday pitched his slightly retailored year-old health plan as a way to expand coverage for the uninsured and elderly, confronting Democratic criticism on a key election-year issue that his proposals are inadequate.... Major elements ... include an increased tax credit to help uninsured people buy health coverage, expanded tax-protected medical savings accounts and tax subsidies for unemployed workers." (Reuters via Yahoo! News)

Study: Flex Schedules Can Mean Wage Penalties
Excerpt: "'[T]hese policies keep women working longer: Women re-enter the workforce sooner after having babies and they change jobs less frequently,' said [sociologist Jennifer] Glass ... 'But the downside is that if you use these policies, some managers feel you're not as invested in your career nor as productive as those who don't.'" (Chicago Tribune)

'Quasi' Insurers Draw Attention From Regulator
Excerpt: "Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is considering clamping down on middleman health-care operations that are functioning under the radar screen of state health insurance regulations, possibly putting doctors' wallets at risk.... Entities such as third-party administrators (TPAs) and independent practice associations (IPAs) ... are now moving into the health insurance arena, assuming risk not only for themselves, but for their clients." (Atlanta Business Chronicle via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Opinion: Let's Insure America
Excerpt: "When representatives of business and labor meet, it's usually across the table. Today there is an issue in America that compels us to sit side by side. It's a major health problem that plagues us despite the fact that the United States has the most advanced health care system in the world. It imperils the lives and health of the 39 million who are its immediate victims, and it endangers the well-being of our nation as a whole. It is the quiet crisis of the uninsured." (Thomas J. Donohue and John J. Sweeney in the Washington Post)

District Court Erred In Holding That a Beneficiary Was No Longer "Totally Disabled" By Depression
A federal district court erred in holding that a beneficiary who suffered from depression was no longer 'totally disabled' and hence that an insurance company properly terminated the beneficiary's long term disability benefits. This was the ruling of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in McOsker v. Paul Revere Life Insurance Company (No. 01-1741). (Spencernet)

DOD Issues Interim Rules On Medical Coverage For Those Assigned To Remote Areas
The Department of Defense (DOD) has issued interim regulations that provide coverage for medical care for active-duty family members who reside with an active-duty member of the Uniformed Services assigned to remote areas. The interim regulations appeared in the February 6 Federal Register. (Spencernet)

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

The Implications of "Enron" for Executive Compensation (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "While it is unlikely Enron's compensation plans led to the inappropriate behavior that contributed to Enron's collapse, the plans certainly could have reinforced a culture of personal greed and an intoxication with growth and stock price appreciation that led to increasingly aggressive acts to sustain an illusion of growing profits." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc. via Financial Executives International)

Labor Secretary Announces New Toll Free Number; Nationwide Assistance for Participants, Employers
Excerpt: "Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced this week the activation of a new Toll Free Participant and Compliance Assistance Number, 1-866-275-7922, to make it easier for workers and employers to get help with questions regarding their retirement and health benefit plans." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

Commentary: the Truth About Stock Options
Excerpt: "For too long, companies have said one thing to the taxman and another to investors. It's a practice that has, essentially, inflated profits. And if we do rethink the way stock options are accounted for, we will have to question the earnings once generated. Even scarier, we'll have to lower our expectations for earnings power going forward." (CBS Marketwatch)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Retirement Plan Administrator for Retirement Plan Services, Inc.
Marketing Manager for CitiStreet

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Protecting Your Company's Retirement Plan after ENRON on February 21, 2002
presented by Thompson Publishing Group, Inc.
Small Business Access to Health Care on February 6, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
The Ultimate Conference on Tax Planning with Retirement Assetsin NV on May 16, 2002
presented by Professional Education Systems Institute, LLC

Newly Posted Press Releases
The National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators Launches First of NAGDCASTS Series (National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators)
Alexander Hamilton Institute Releases New Free Reports "Understanding 401(k) Plan Fees & Expenses" and "When Romance Rocks The Workplace" (Alexander Hamilton Institute)
Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces New Toll Free Number (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

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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.