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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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April 23, 2002 - 6,426 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)

Compromise Appears Near on Health Benefits for Trade-Displaced Workers
Excerpt: "A compromise between Senate Democrats and Republicans on providing health benefits to American workers displaced by international trade is 'close to being worked out,' CongressDaily/AM reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

White Paper: Think COBRA Doesn't Cost Employers Anything? Think Again. (PDF)
Excerpt: "The COBRA subsidy provision contained in the Senate's Trade Adjustment Assistance bill (S.1209) places significant financial burdens on precisely those employers that are already suffering from significant economic distress. Indeed, COBRA continuation coverage is an expensive proposition for most employers." (ERISA Industry Committee)

AARP Wants Bigger Role in Prescription Drug Cases
Excerpt: "AARP lawyers said they might enter some of the lawsuits brought by the Prescription Access Litigation Project, a coalition of 75 consumer and health groups.... In the last few years, many states have joined consumer groups, insurers and health plans in lawsuits alleging that drug companies tried to extend their monopolies in certain markets by improper means." (New York Times; free registration required)

Supreme Court Asks U.S. to Brief ERISA Preemption Issues Surrounding ESOP Suit
Excerpt: "Norcal issued the notes ... when it created the ESOP ... The ESOP defaulted on the notes in 1991 after taking on additional debt in a pair of mergers. Nearly 150 of the former shareholders ... sued in a California court alleging the company, its ESOP and Bank of America violated their state-law duty to act in their best interests as holders of the notes." (Dow Jones Newswires via Yahoo! News)

Employers Find Ways To Encourage Good Health
Excerpt: "As health care costs increase, a rising number of companies are using workplace wellness programs to improve employees' health and reduce medical claims. These programs generally provide health information, and many also offer free or low-cost services such as medical checkups and weight management and smoking cessation classes. Some include fitness centers or subsidized memberships to local gyms." (AP via Society for Human Resource Management)

Humana Develops Four-Tier Prescription Program
Excerpt: "The plan that is being developed would take into account the benefits of medicines in reducing other health care costs instead of looking at only the cost of the drug.... The goal of the plans and a marketing campaign in development is to educate employers and consumers about the uses of prescriptions and the underlying reasons for increasing costs." (Business First of Louisville via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Insurance Industry Backs GOP Stance on Uninsured
Excerpt: "Officials from one of the insurance industry's main trade groups on Friday endorsed a key but controversial part of President Bush's plan to extend health coverage to some of the 40 million Americans who lack it.... Dr. Donald Young, president of the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA), said that his group strongly supports encouraging states to form risk pools in the individual health insurance market." (Medscape; free registration required)

Individually-Owned Health Insurance Rate Hikes for Persons Becoming Ill Get Scrutiny in Wisconsin
Excerpt: "The concern of some health insurance industry observers is that insurers will adopt practices similar to car insurance, where premiums generally go up when a policyholder is involved in an auto accident. Health insurers normally underwrite an individual once -- when the policyholder first signs on with the company." (The Business Journal of Milwaukee via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

'Sandwiched' Workers Seek Flexible Firms
Excerpt: "Marti Pechnyo is 'sandwiched.' That means she's responsible both for dependent children and elderly parents.... Leslie Hammer, associate professor of psychology at Portland State University [said,] 'Many firms are on board for child care, but it's only half the sandwich. They're slower to understand elder care.'" (Chicago Tribune; free registration required)

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

Analysis: DOL Issues Final Regs on Use of New Technologies by ERISA Plans
Excerpt: "[F]or plan sponsors already using electronic media to satisfy certain ERISA disclosure requirements, it may make sense to conform current practices to the safe harbor, if possible. For those not yet using electronic media, now may be a good time to explore the possibilities presented by the new regulation." (Deloitte & Touche)

Participants' Attorney Mark Machiz Explains Why More Plans Are Being Sued
Excerpt: "One reason for the upswing is an increasing appreciation by the more generic plaintiffs' firms that ERISA is a meaningful area of litigation and of class-action litigation. I also think there is a very aware group of 50ish executives-- leading-edge baby boomers-- who have been subjected to early retirement windows and cash balance conversions and have been upset by it." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Companies Rethinking Equity Pay
Excerpt: "Overhang is the sum of all outstanding equity available for grants to employees that has not yet been exercised plus shares earmarked for future use. It's an issue that is starting to get significant attention from investors, who will usually stomach dilution so long as they're making money." (Investor Relations Business via Society for Human Resource Management)

Opinion: IBM's CEO Deserved His Pay, If Anyone Does
Excerpt: "Lou Gerstner earned $622.9 million, or $69.2 million a year, during his almost nine- year career heading International Business Machines Corp. A number that large doesn't pass easily down my gullet, but if anyone deserves to have earned that much money, Gerstner's the man." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Lucent Workers Can Trade in Stock Options
Excerpt: "Lucent said the offer is not counted as a repricing of options because it is being done six months and a day after May 22, when it will expire." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser BSW Benefit Plans Plus, L.L.C.
Excerpt: "Let BSW Benefit Plans Plus, L.L.C. be your retirement plan expert... maximizing the design & administration of your retirement program. We offer simple solutions for complex issues in... Plan Design & Consulting, Qualified Plan Administration; 401(k)/Profit Sharing/Defined Benefit/Cafeteria Plans/ESOP's, Non-qualified plan administration; Comprehensive Document Services and Plan & Investment Communications"

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Plan Document Specialist for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY
401(k) Administrators for Geller & Wind, Ltd.
in NY
Senior Conversion Specialist for First Trust Corporation
in CO
Savings Plan Manager for Apple Computer, Inc.
in CA
Account Manager/Assistant for Driscoll Insurance Agency
in CA

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Asset Retention Study Groupin CT on May 7, 2002
presented by LIMRA International
2002 Educational Outreach Programsin ME on June 3, 2002
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
2002 Educational Outreach Programin IL on June 5, 2002
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
2002 Educational Outreach Programin CA on June 7, 2002
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Stars & Stripes 2002 National Public Employees' Retirement Funds Summitin FL on June 2, 2002
presented by Financial Research Associates
Preparing for the Reality of Pan-European Pensionsin ALL STATES on May 8, 2002
presented by Hewitt Associates

Dave Baker says world!
Editor and publisher Dave Baker says world and thanks for 7 great years, as BenefitsLink celebrates its seventh anniversary online!

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.