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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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March 1, 2002 - 6,505 subscribers
Today's sponsor: ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans, by EBIA

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)

   ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans is an authoritative
   resource for employers, administrators and advisors.

   Written by leading employee benefits attorneys, this manual has
   all the information you need to bring your welfare benefit plans
   into compliance with ERISA.

   Always kept current through periodic updates!

(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)

A Novel Approach to Health Insurance at Outback Steakhouse
Excerpt: "To make health insurance affordable for their front-line employees, Outback's top officials decided five years ago to move to a sliding scale for premium payments. About 10 of the highest ranking executives ... contribute more than the actual premium cost. Another 2,000 managers pay the full premium amount. Front-line restaurant workers who opt for a $1,000 deductible pay just 29 percent of the premium cost." (St. Petersburg Times)

Another Court Says ERISA Reimbursement Claim OK When Defendant Still Holds Funds
Kishter v. Principal Life Insurance Company (S.D.N.Y. 2002). Excerpt: "While Kishter is not a subrogation/reimbursement case, the Court becomes the second Court to recognize that Knudson allows an ERISA plan fiduciary to enforce a reimbursement provision in a health plan so long as the monies over which the plan fiduciary seeks restitution or constructive trust are being held by the defendant in the federal court lawsuit." (Attorney Thomas H. Lawrence)

Federal Employees' Use of Frequent Flyer Miles Spotlights Taxability
Excerpt: "Now that personal use of frequent flyer miles earned on official travel is no longer prohibited, the question of its taxability brings to the fore what the IRS has long contended: that the personal use of such benefits is taxable income-- whether in the private sector or in the government. An IRS technical advice memorandum (TAM) issued in 1995, TAM 9547001, imposed tax on employees ..." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Policy Analysts Set Stage for Debate On Paid Leave, Workplace Flexibility
Excerpt: "Paid leave and flexibility over working hours will take on increasing importance over the next 10 years, as the labor market shrinks and the nature of the workforce changes, according to two policy analysts who spoke Feb. 28 ..." (BNA Daily Labor Report via Society for Human Resource Management)

Senators Hear From Experts, Then Support Mammography
Excerpt: "Clearly piqued that the controversy over mammography has confused women, members of the Senate heard testimony today from experts on both sides of the debate and then pointedly threw their political support behind breast cancer screening." (New York Times; free registration required)

Retirees Advocacy Group Pushes Federal Legislation to Vest Retiree Health Benefits
Excerpt: "H.R. 1322 would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by (1) prohibiting companies from making post-retirement cancellations or reductions in the health benefits that were provided to employees when they retired, (2) requiring companies (except for small employers) to restore retiree health benefits taken away after their employees had retired unless the company can demonstrate that compliance would cause substantial business hardship ..." (National Retiree Legislative Network)

'Death of Common Sense' Author Calls for New Approach to Resolve Health Care Disputes
Press release, with link to Real Media clip of Philip K. Howard's speech to the American Association of Health Plans. Excerpt: "In a speech before the American Association of Health Plans yesterday, legal reform expert Philip K. Howard, author of 'The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America,' decried the current system of resolving conflicts through the courts and called for a revolutionary approach to solving problems in health care." (American Association of Health Plans)

Analysis: COBRA's Notice Duty Met When Certified Mail Used, Even Though Notice Not Received
Excerpt: "An employer/plan administrator met its COBRA notification obligation by sending a COBRA notice by certified mail to a qualified beneficiary's last known address even when the employer knew that the notice was not received, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case of first impression. The case is Degruise v. Sprint Corp...." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Employers Anxiously Await Decision Whether ERISA Preempts State Independent Review Laws
Excerpt: "Based upon the oral arguments, the Court's decision-making process likely will involve whether the state law conflicts with ERISA by providing an alternative remedy for benefit disputes, or whether it complements ERISA by just merely adding a new step in the benefits process prior to seeking ERISA remedies. The case is Rush Prudential HMO Inc. v. Moran ... The Court is scheduled to make its ruling by mid-June." (Thompson Publishing Group)

HIPAA Transaction Delay Requests Not Subject to HHS Approval
The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services has issued a question-and-answer guide to the Administrative Simplification Compliance Act (P.L. 107-105), which delays for up to one full year, until Oct. 16, 2003, the implementation of standards for electronic transmission of health care information under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. (Spencernet)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Marketing Consultant (Conversion & Case Management) for WESPAC Plan Services, Inc.
in CA
Erisa/Tax Attorney for UnumProvident Corporation
in ME
Benefits Manager for WINMAR Personnel Agency, Inc. & WINMAR Temporary Services, Inc.
in NJ, NY
Senior Plan Implementation Analyst for Invesmart
in PA
Retirement Services Specialist for Northern Trust Retirement Consulting, L.L.C.
in WA
Consultant for Buck Consultants
in MO
Retirement Plan Sales Consultant for Invesmart
in PA

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Company Stock in Defined Contribution Plans: Limiting Employer Liability on March 14, 2002
presented by Watson Wyatt, Financial Executives International and the FEI Research Foundation
Making Sense of the Mammography Controversy: What Women Need to Know on February 28, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org
The Uninsured and Affordable Health Care Coverage on February 28, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
NCEO 21st Annual Conference on ESOPs & Broad-Based Stock Optionsin IL on April 24, 2002
presented by National Center for Employee Ownership

Newly Posted Press Releases
ABA Accolades ARAG Group (ARAG Group)
ParentCareUSA provides innovative services to help "baby-boomers" care for aging parents (ParentCareUSA)

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Copyright 2002 BenefitsLink.com, Inc., but you may freely distribute this email newsletter in whole. This newsletter is edited by David Rhett Baker, J.D.