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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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May 1, 2002 - 6,429 subscribers
Today's sponsor: Actuarial Systems Corporation

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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)

Mental Health Parity Measure To Reach Senate Floor Soon, Daschle Says
Excerpt: "In response to President Bush calling on Congress to approve mental health parity legislation, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on April 30 said that such legislation will reach the Senate floor 'in the coming months,' perhaps as early as before Memorial Day, CongressDaily/AM reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Mental Health Parity Debate Extended To Specific Diagnoses; How Many Will Be Major Issue
President George Bush vowed in an April 20 address to work toward a mental health parity agreement this year, and the focus of any legislation is likely to be the number of mental disorder diagnoses to which mental health parity will extend. In a speech at the University of New Mexico, where he described the proposal, Mr. Bush also announced the establishment of a commission on mental health to develop recommendations on improving the nation's mental health service delivery system. (Spencernet)

Appeals Court Finds No Fiduciary Duty by Employer to Notify Employee's Ex-Spouse of Insurance Change
Barrs v. Lockheed Martin Corporation et al. (No. 01-1203, 1st Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "It is easy to be wise after the fact: presumably if [the plaintiff's] matrimonial lawyer faced the same problem again, he or she would include in the settlement agreement a provision covering successor policies.... Yet these are the commonplace problems of contracts in general and divorce agreements in particular." (U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit via FindLaw.com)

Federal Court Authorizes ERISA Reimbursement Claim for Constructive Trust
Excerpt: "In Bauer v. Camrud, Maddock, Olsen & Larson, Ltd. ... (D.N.D. Apr. 22, 2002), the federal court ruled that an ERISA plan fiduciary may pursue a reimbursement claim in the form of a constructive trust where the funds at issue are identifiable and traceable.... The Bauer court noted that the holding in Great-West Life was 'fairly limited' and went on to rule that the Supreme Court's decision was not a bar to the plan's reimbursement claim ..." (John M. Russell, Esq.)

Will Retention Bonuses Stop a Breach?
Excerpt: "Companies extol the payments as a proven way to prevent key employees from jumping ship, keep the businesses running, maximize payments to creditors and shorten their time in court. But business experts, workers who lose their jobs and creditors who are repaid less than they are owed are increasingly asking whether they are fair." (Washington Post)

Analysis: IRS Notice 2001-69 Laudable But Legal and Administrative Issues Should Be Considered (PDF)
Excerpt: "[T]he IRS has responded to the desires of many American workers to help those affected by the events of September 11, by adopting a rather remarkable enforcement position with respect to constructive receipt of certain employer-provided benefits.... Before implementing such a program, an employer will want to examine the state age and hour laws or secure labor counsel to ensure that it is not violating such laws to permit an employee to forgo the payment for guaranteed time off." (Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman)

Fifth Health Plan Ordered To Close Up Shop In Florida
Excerpt: "Florida Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher has ordered American Benefit Plans, a Texas-based company that has operated in Florida under more than a dozen different names, to stop selling health insurance without a license. American Benefit Plans is the fifth unlicensed health insurer in Florida to be shut down since February 2001." (insure.com)

Unlicensed Health Insurers Preying On People Desperate For Lower Premiums
Excerpt: "The scams often come across as legitimate insurance, offered by sales agents. Regulators say the plans are unlicensed. 'The insurance industry hasn't seen this level of fraud activity since the late 1980s,' says Fred Nepple, general counsel of the Wisconsin Insurance Department. 'It's in all 50 states but growing most rapidly in the South and Southeast.'" (USA Today)

Senator Pushes for Association Health Plans, Citing GAO Study on Small Employer Health Plan Coverage
Excerpt: "A government review confirms 'disturbing concentration' among health insurance companies offering policies to small businesses, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said Tuesday. Bond released findings by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to bolster his support for a proposal to let small businesses join together to buy health insurance for their workers." (AP via New York Times; free registration required)

Trade Association Cites New GAO Study as Evidence of Need for Association Health Plans
Press release. Excerpt: "Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today reiterated its strong support for the establishment of Association Health Plans (AHPs) in light of the new Government Accounting Office (GAO) report on the small group health insurance market. The GAO study shows that a select group of large insurance carriers possess an alarmingly high market share within the small group health sector." (PR Newswire via Financial Times)

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

Another Question is Answered in the Stock Options, Restricted Stock and Other Long-Term Employment Incentives Q&A Column
Can an employment agreement specify the total value-- in dollars-- of future stock option grants without triggering variable accounting (because the number of shares and exercise price are not known, but the dollar value is)? (BenefitsLink.com)

Commentary: How Some CEO Pay Flies Under the Radar
Excerpt: "In the aftermath of the recession, the bearish stock market and Enron Corp.'s collapse, corporate boards face unparalleled pressure to pinch their top executives' pay.... [C]ertain corporate captains have discovered less obvious ways to enrich themselves. This so-called stealth wealth remains obscured because executives reap rewards after they depart, federal disclosure requirements are weak -- or both ..." (CareerJournal.com)

IBM Shareholder Initiative to Ignore Pension Funding in Calculating Executive Comp Fails
Excerpt: "A proposal to stop including income from IBM's overfunded pension plan when calculating executive bonuses received 17% of the votes cast." (SmartMoney.com)

Commentary: Shareholders Pass Resolution Limiting Bank of America Severance Pay to Executives
Excerpt: "The Bank of America measure, which would require a stock-owner referendum on senior executive severance worth more than twice base pay and bonus, was introduced by a Teamsters pension fund in 1999 and thumpingly defeated that year and again last year. But this time something stuck in the shareholders' craw." (Jay Hancock in the Baltimore Sun)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Erisa/Tax Attorney for UnumProvident Corporation
in ME
Client Relationship Manager for Pension Third Party Administrator
in MI
Daily Val Transaction Specialist for First Trust Corporation
in CO
Senior 401(K) Plan Administrator for Growing Employee Benefits Firm in MD
in MD
Client Engagement Manager - RL-020328-002 for Hewitt Associates LLC
in GA
Paralegal - Employee Benefits for Polsinelli Shalton & Welte, P.C.
in MO
Financial Transactions Specialist for ExpertPlan, Inc.
in NJ
HRIS Analyst/Team Leader for DC/DB Investment Firm - Fortune 1000
in TX

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Form 5500 Preparation Workshopin NY on May 30, 2002
presented by New York Metropolitan Area Chapter - ISCEBS
FORM 5500 WORKSHOPin MA on May 22, 2002
presented by WEB - Massachusetts Metrowest Chapter

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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.