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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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May 2, 2002 - 6,429 subscribers
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Debate over Health Coverage for Trade-Displaced Workers Continues, as Daschle Amends Proposal
Excerpt: "Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on May 1 introduced an amendment that would provide health benefits to American workers displaced by international trade and to retired steel workers who lost health coverage as a result of their companies' bankruptcies, the Wall Street Journal reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Protecting Individual Medical Records: Key Requirements of the Regs Applicable to Group Health Plans (PDF)
18 pages. Excerpt: "Although compliance is not required until April 14, 2003 (2004 for small health plans), it is not too early for plan sponsors to begin to focus on the changes in procedures necessary ... This outline describes the key features of the new [HIPAA privacy] regulations and highlights some of the issues that employers and other sponsors of group health plans must think about and plan for in connection with their handling of individual medical records." (Phyllis C. Borzi, Esq. of O'Donoghue & O'Donoghue)

How Employers Can Comply With COBRA's Notification Requirements
Excerpt: "Although the COBRA statute clearly requires written notice to the participant so he/she can elect continued coverage, the Secretary of Labor has never issued regulations defining what adequate written notice is. The courts have filled this gap by requiring employers to act in good faith ..." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

What Happens to Employers Who Forget to Post the FMLA Eligibility Notice?
Excerpt: "Employers who forgot to post their FMLA notices can, because of their forgetfulness, bestow FMLA rights, including reinstatement rights, on employees who are not otherwise eligible to receive those rights." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Drug Development Expenses Contribute To Rising Medicine Costs, Wall Street Journal Reports
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on May 2 looks at how the increasing difficulty of discovering new medicines is a 'big reason the price of drugs is surging.'" (KaiserNetwork.org)

Colorado Governor Asks Legislators To Address Small Business Insurance Market
Excerpt: "Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R) on April 30 asked state legislators to 'substantially alter' laws concerning health insurers, after state officials informed him that nearly 82,000 Coloradans had been dropped from small-group health insurance plans last year, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Wall Street Journal Profiles Controversy Over Online Ratings of Hospital Quality
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal [on May 1, 2002] reports on the 'controversy' over hospital quality ratings, which let consumers 'shop for a hospital the way they shop for cars or mutual funds.' Although many patients and their families 'are happy to have additional resources' to compare hospitals, critics say the report cards do not always accurately reflect the quality of care provided by the hospitals." (iHealthBeat.com; free registration required)

Analysis Predicts Multimillion-Dollar Litigation Costs in Screening Mammography
Excerpt: "Because a large group of people are growing older at the same time-- baby boomers-- the number of women needing mammograms is going up. As more mammograms are performed, the potential for missed cancers increases, leading to an increased chance of litigation." (Medscape; free registration required)

Researcher Studies Feasibility of Single-Payer System in California
Excerpt: " Amid increasing health insurance premiums, 'dwindling benefits' and a growing number of uninsured residents, advocates of a single-payer health system say that California 'stands the best chance of making it happen,' PRI's 'Marketplace' reports." (Kaiser Permanente)

Opinion: a Call to Conservatives for Universal Health Care
Excerpt: "[W]hile foreign competitors get full medical benefits at one-third less the cost, American employers are weighed down by ever-growing expense for health care. Despite these consequences, U.S. conservatives argue that health care should be private, with a public safety net only as a last resort. In so doing they diminish some of their most cherished principles ..." (Universal Health Care Action Network)

Opinion: Moving Toward Mental Health Parity
Excerpt: "President Bush said some encouraging words this week about the need for a health care system that will treat mental illness with the same urgency as physical illness." (New York Times; free registration required)

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

IRS Warns of Scheme To Steal Identity and Financial Data (PDF)
IRS News Release IR-2002-55 warns of a fraudulent scheme currently circulating that uses fictitious bank correspondence and IRS forms in an attempt to trick taxpayers into disclosing their personal and banking data, which is then used to steal the taxpayer's identity and bank account deposits. (Internal Revenue Service)

Seasonal Benefits Cost Increases Outstrip Wage Hikes, BLS Reports
The most recent Employment Cost Index released by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that benefits costs in private industry continue to rise faster than salaries. According to the BLS's Employment Cost Index-March 2002, benefits costs for private industry workers increased 4.8% for the year ended March 30, 2002, a decrease from 5.0% as of March 30, 2002. (Spencernet)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Business Retirement Specialist for Franklin Templeton Investments
in CA
Vice President Retirement Plans and Financial Controls for Black Mountain Management, Inc.
in NY
Benefit Administrator for The National Academies
in DC
Pension Administrator for Florida Pension Consultants
in FL
Project Manager/Consultant for Pyramid Digital Solutions
in AL
Defined Contribution Administrator for Oak Brook Pension and 401(k) Consulting firm
in IL

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Retreat on Pension Reform: New Structures for the New Centuryin PA on June 30, 2002
presented by The Wharton School and the World Bank

Newly Posted Press Releases
Still River R etirement Planning Software, Inc. Announces the Release of its New EMC Asset Allocation Model (Still River Retirement Planning Software, Inc.)

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.