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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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May 3, 2002 - 6,429 subscribers
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Democrats Unveil Steel Legacy Bill for Retirees' Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Nearly 100 U.S. House members yesterday introduced legislation to protect the health benefits of hundreds of thousands of retired steel workers who worked for steel companies hit hard by foreign steel imports." (Post-Gazette.com)

Health Care Debate Prompts Standoff on Trade Legislation
Excerpt: "President Bush's yearlong push for new trade-negotiating authority has triggered a Senate game of chicken, with most Democrats insisting on adding health care provisions to the bill and conservative Republicans vowing to fight them." (Washington Post)

Fraudulent Health Plans Target Employers
Excerpt: "Officials report that health plan fraud is on the rise across the country, and is particularly rampant in Texas and Florida. The usual scam involves sellers who purport to offer cheap coverage, but disappear with premium payments before claims are paid." (BenefitNews.com)

Use of Medications for Depression Without Therapy May Be Costing Employers
Excerpt: "Increasingly, those who suffer from depression are taking the pills-- but forgoing follow-up visits to mental health professionals. That treatment strategy leaves a lot to be desired and creates significant potential legal and productivity problems for human resource professionals-- especially since incidents of depression are on the rise." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Employers Take Decisive Action As Health Care Costs Spiral Upwards
Excerpt: "[T]wo out of three firms reported recent or imminent efforts to raise employees' premium contributions, copayments, or deductibles. About three out of 10 responding companies have pursued changes in health care plans, providers, or insurance carriers, and nearly as many firms have sought to institute or bolster generic drug requirements." (IOMA's Report on Managing Benefits Plans, via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Drug Industry Works To Convince Companies To Avoid Participation in Drug Patent Reform Coalition
Excerpt: "The pharmaceutical industry has made a 'concerted effort' to lobby large companies to 'stay out or drop out' of a coalition that has called for reforms to prescription drug patent laws, the Wall Street Journal reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Health Insurance Association Sues Over Another Health Organization's Use of 'Harry and Louise'
Excerpt: "The Health Insurance Association of America wants Harry and Louise to stop talking--immediately. The couple, who represented the HIAA's opposition to the Clinton healthcare reform plan in the early 1990s, recently returned to the airwaves to speak in support of cloning research on behalf of CuresNow ..." (Modern Healthcare)

Text of ERISA Industry Committee Letter to Bush Opposing Mandatory Mental Health Parity (PDF)
Excerpt: "[T]he cost of health care coverage is increasing at an almost unprecedented rate. In order to cope with these rapid cost increases, it is vitally important that employers and employees retain maximum flexibility in health benefit design and management." (ERISA Industry Committee)

Drug Plans for Elderly Are Unveiled by Both Democrats and Republicans
Excerpt: "An election-year battle over prescription drugs began in earnest [Thursday, May 2, 2002] as House Republicans and Senate Democrats rolled out competing proposals to provide Medicare drug benefits to the elderly.... Republicans insist that they want to expand Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and the disabled, to cover prescription drugs. But, they say, they are offering a different approach that envisions a larger role for private insurers." (New York Times; free registration required)

How Minnesota Got 18% Enrollment in Its Long-Term Care Plan
Excerpt: "[I]ndustry statistics show that enrollment in long-term care programs, when offered by employers, averages two percent to three percent among public employers and less than 10% for private employers. That's why the story of the State of Minnesota, and its success in setting up an LTC program and getting 18% of its employees to opt for long-term care during its initial enrollment, is one both worth telling and emulating." (IOMA's Report on Managing Benefits Plans, via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Creating a Relocation Policy for Employees and New Hires
Excerpt: "The use of relocation policies-- for new hires as well as transferees-- appears to be gaining favor, as are certain types of policy provisions.... Some of the policy provisions that are gaining attention, according to various sources, include lump-sum payments to employees for their moving costs, help for spouses and children, and payback agreements ..." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser BeyondWork
Excerpt: "BeyondWork 'Work/Life Connection' is a worksite marketplace for member companies and employees providing one-stop convenience for Rewards and Recognition, Fitness and Nutrition and discounts on in-demand products and services from hundreds of brand name suppliers. BeyondWork's program enables a company of any size to provide a more competitive benefits package and motivation tools. We invite you to have a free tour of our web site and offers. Plus we'll send you 1 free movie pass."

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

Benefits Redesign: Prescription for Recovery
Excerpt: "Baseline efforts include redesigning health and welfare coverage and retirement plans to reflect employer cost pressures ... as well as streamlining overall plan administration with the aid of advanced technology. For employers that dare pick more than the lowest-hanging fruit from the money-savings tree, meaningful forward progress lies in the promise of subrogation and management of integrated disability, pharmacy benefits, chronic disease and behavioral health care expenses." (BenefitNews.com)

Tuning In To Next-Gen Employees: What Will Workers Demand In Five Years?
Excerpt: "To be better prepared for the next crop of workers, we must start thinking about kids who are still in school-- and learn in particular how they perceive information technology. Why look at this generation now? Although changes undoubtedly will occur by the time we begin hiring these young people in four years or so, studies show that baby boomers and Gen Xers have been significantly influenced by their experiences growing up." (Optimize)

Arbitration Often Costly, Study Finds
Excerpt: "Resolving disputes through mandatory arbitration may cost significantly more than using the court system, according to a study issued [Wednesday May 1, 2002] by the public interest group Public Citizen." (Washington Post)

Mandatory Arbitration-- Boon, Bust, or Both for Employers?
Excerpt: "In the past few years, many employers have adopted employment agreements that oblige employees to use alternative dispute resolution procedures rather than file lawsuits in the case of an employment complaint." (BLR.com)

Stock Plan Trade Association Comments on Application of FICA Tax to Stock Option Exercise (PDF)
Excerpt: "If adopted, the Proposed Regulations would treat the holder of an incentive stock option ('ISO') or an option granted pursuant to a section 423 employee stock purchase plan ('ESPP') as having received a payment of 'wages' at the time of exercise of such an option for purposes of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act ('FICA') and the Federal Unemployment Tax Act ('FUTA'). The NASPP opposes the treatment of statutory stock option spread at exercise as wages for FICA and FUTA purposes." (National Association of Stock Plan Professionals)

Greenspan: Expense Stock Options
Excerpt: "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Friday argued that in the effort to deal with the problems raised by the costly collapse of Enron Corp., regulations should be changed to force companies to treat lucrative stock options for top executives as a business expense." (AP via StarTribune.com)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Manager, Benefits Planning & Analysis for Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
in MO
Health Benefit Analyst for Conrad M. Siegel, Inc. Actuaries/Benefit Consultants
in PA
Plan Administrator for Pension Plan Professionals, Inc.
in FL
Actuarial Analyst for USI Consulting Group
in NY
Senior Plan Administrator for Growing Third Party Administrator
in CA, OH

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Form 5500 Seminarin OH on May 15, 2002
presented by The Central Ohio Chapter, ISCEBS
Being a Retirement Plan Fiduciary - What You Need to Know Now!in CA on May 22, 2002
presented by Morrison & Foerster, LLP, Union Bank of California, Business & Trust Services, and Independent Retirement Plan Services, LLC
401(k) Sales Summitin AZ on February 27, 2003
presented by ASPA

Newly Posted Press Releases
ERIC Urges President to Oppose Mental Health Parity Mandate (The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC))
Member Requests Spur National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators to Schedule May 8 NAGDCAST (NAGDCA)

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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.