If this message looks garbled to you or if the headlines in this message don't connect you to Web pages when you click on them, please request the "plain text" version of this newsletter ("Welfare Plans Edition") by emailing your request to publisher Dave Baker
Jobs | Today's Messages | Topical News | Q&A Columns | Services & Products | Search | Reference

The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
To BenefitsLink home page Fill your job openings fast by advertising on BenefitsLink

March 15, 2002 - 6,505 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans

(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.

   Click above to learn more about this valuable treatise,
   which is 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)
Mental Health Benefits Debated at House Hearing
Excerpt: "The debate over a bill to require 'parity' between benefits for mental health and other ailments picked up where it left off last year Wednesday, with employer groups charging that such a requirement would be too expensive and mental health advocates arguing that the lack of a requirement amounts to unfair discrimination." (Reuters Health via Yahoo! News)

Witness List and Written Statements for House Hearing on Mental Health Parity
March 13, 2002. Witnesses include Kay Nystul, Wausau Benefits; Lee Dixon, National Conference of State Legislatures; The Honorable Patrick Kennedy, U.S. House of Representatives; Henry Harbin, for the American Managed Behavioral Healthcare Association; Jane Greenman for the ERISA Industry Committee. (U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations)

Court Authorizes Subrogation Claim by Fiduciary Against Bank Holding Funds
Administrative Committee of the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Associates' Health and Welfare Plan v. DeGraffenried (W.D. Tex. 2002). Excerpt: "[T]he Western District of Texas joined the Northern District of Illinois in recognizing that the Supreme Court, in Great-West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, authorizes ERISA plan fiduciaries to pursue subrogation/reimbursement claims in federal court under 29 U.S.C. §1132(a)(3) when the funds are traceable and are in the defendant's possession." (Attorney John M. Russell)

Coalition Purchasing: a Growing Trend
Excerpt: "Decades of supply-side mergers and acquisitions by vendors have eroded the bargaining power of individual employers, particularly in the Health & Welfare (H&W) benefits marketplace. Yet, these same consolidations can serve as the imperative for purchasers to organize product demand into efficient national and regional buying groups to strengthen negotiation clout." (Aon)

Survey: Recession Causing Shift in HR Priorities
Excerpt: " If the current conditions-- an oversupply of labor and scarce resources to spend on total compensation programs-- prevail, employers will be even more motivated to spend these resources where they will get the greatest return on their investment.... This analysis draws upon data from Mercer's annual Policies and Practices Survey, which queries large U.S. employers about their total rewards policies, practices and programs." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Wellness Programs Generating Results
Excerpt: "[T]he list of the most prevalent wellness programs offered by U.S. employers includes: stress management; ergonomics and injury prevention; self-care and disease management; smoking cessation; nutrition; exercise and fitness; weight control; work-life balance; and screening programs including blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol, body mass index and fitness assessments ..." (Benefits Canada)

Increased Prescription Drug Spending Could Lead To Reductions in Other Health Costs
Excerpt: "Greater spending on prescription drugs may lead to decreased inpatient hospital and other health care costs, according to a new survey of disease-management organizations." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Treating Workplace Stress
Excerpt: "Stress is sending drug costs and disability claims soaring. While benefits programs manage the symptoms, too many have failed to address the sources." (Benefits Canada)

Obesity Linked to Higher Health Care Cost Hikes Than Smoking or Problem Drinking
News release; target page includes link to highlights of the study. Excerpt: "Obesity contributes to higher cost increases for health care services and medications than do either smoking or problem drinking, a RAND researcher concludes in a report published in the journal Health Affairs ... In fact, the report finds that obesity has roughly the same association with chronic health conditions as a person who has gone from age 30 to age 50." (RAND)

Steel Companies Ask for Bailout on Retiree Health Costs
Excerpt: "The big steel companies and their unions took their pleas on behalf of retirees caught without health care to Congress Thursday, after being turned away by President Bush." (StarTribune.com)

Human Resources and Public Policy Implications of the Changing Working Household
Excerpt: "Today, a myriad of household types are represented in American employment. To attract and retain highly-skilled employees, human resource managers will need corporate benefits packages to reflect changed household characteristics and the needs of a changed society." (Center for Work and Family Balance)

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

SEC Goes After Stock Options
Excerpt: "In the first case of its kind since the Securities and Exchange Commission pledged last month to get tougher on corporate executives who manipulate earnings, the agency is trying to force a former New Jersey pharmaceutical executive to return an unspecified amount of stock options allegedly tied to fraudulent earnings growth." (Washington Post)

Stock Option Absurdity: Hoping for Lower Prices
Excerpt: "If companies simply repriced options immediately, then the accounting rules would force the companies to reduce their profits if the value of the options rose over time. But the delay keeps such reality out of earnings statements.... More than 100 companies have used the strategy since it was pioneered by Sprint in 2000." (New York Times; free registration required)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Employee Benefits Attorneys Needed for Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
in MI
Employee Benefits Attorney for Thompson Hine LLP
in OH
Client Services Director for PFPC
in MD
Client Consultant for CIGNA Corporation
in IA, IL, WI
401(k) Plan Administrator for PFPC
in MN
Compliance Analyst for PFPC
in MN
Sales Representative for Ceridian
in CA
ACTUARY, GS-1510-15 for U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration
in DC
Compliance Analyst for New York Life Benefit Services, LLC
in MA
Employee Benefits Administrator for The Restaurant Company - Operator of 500 Perkins Restaurant and Bakeries
in TN
in NY
Client Relationship Manager for Pension Third Party Administrator
in MI

Newly Posted Benefits Businesses for Sale (Post Yours!)
50% of Benefits Administration Firm in Salt Lake CityFacilities in UT

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

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.