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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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May 17, 2002 - 6,379 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)

Prospects Dim for Patients' Rights Bill
Excerpt: "Barring an unexpected last-minute breakthrough, officials said Thursday the talks would founder on the issue of lawsuits against HMOs, including the amount of monetary damages that aggrieved patients could receive." (AP via New York Times; free registration required)

California's Online HMO Report Card Will Include Data on Medical Groups
Excerpt: "California's online HMO report card, launched last year, will soon include data on the state's medical groups.... The expanded report card will go online in September." (iHealthBeat.com; free registration required)

Analysis: Revenue Ruling 2002-3 Puts Nail in Coffin for Double-Dipping 'Health Incentive Plans'
Excerpt: "Essentially, the IRS declared that, when an employee pays for health-insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars through a cafeteria plan, these amounts are employer-not employee-contributions. Since the employer pays for the insurance, there are no 'employee-paid premiums' for the employer to reimburse. Therefore, the employer 'reimbursements' are includable in the employee's income taxes and subject to withholding as well as FICA and FUTA taxes." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

NPR, PBS Report on Rising Health Care Costs, Single-Payer Debate in Maine
Excerpt: "NPR's 'Morning Edition' on May 17 reported on rising health care costs in Maine, which is debating moving to a universal health care system." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Wall Street Journal Examines Research on Generic Treatments
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on May 17 reports on the lack of research on treatments that have lost patent protection, a trend that has contributed to increased prescription drug costs. Brand-name drug companies -- the 'main financiers' of pharmaceutical research -- have 'little incentive' to fund the studies on the effectiveness of generic treatments ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Survey: U.S. Companies to Give Workers More Responsibility for Health Care Benefits
Excerpt: "U.S. workers can expect to take on more responsibility for their own health care needs and costs as companies re-evaluate how they manage and administer their benefits programs, according to a survey of large employers conducted jointly by Watson Wyatt and the Washington Business Group on Health. More than 70 percent of the 292 large employers surveyed indicated that they made major changes in their health care strategy in the past year." (Watson Wyatt)

IFEBP Publishes Book on Dental Plans
Excerpt: "Dental Benefits: A Guide to Dental PPOs, HMOs and Other Managed Plans, Revised Edition, by Donald S. Mayes.... 482 pages. 2002.... $53. (Foundation Members $45).... [The book] builds on the success of Mayes' first bestselling edition, published in 1993, and has grown to 40 chapters from 19." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Link to Written Testimony at May 16 Hearing on Assessing Retiree Health Legacy Costs
May 16, 2002. Witnesses were Syl Schieber, Watson Wyatt Worldwide; Louise Novotny, Communications Workers of America; Fred Mittelstaedt, University of Notre Dame; and Dr. Vincent Kerr, Ford Motor Company. (U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations)

Health Benefits Coalition Creates Advocacy Web Site: NotOneMoreDollar.com
Excerpt: "If you are experiencing a serious increase in the cost of your health care, you're not alone. In 2002, overall health premiums rose 13 percent, and small business rates are rising 20 to 60 percent. Yet Congress continues to consider legislation that will drive up the cost of health care even further. Click below to find out more." (Health Benefits Coalition)

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

Human Capital As a Lead Indicator of Shareholder Value
Excerpt: "Superior human capital practices are not only correlated with financial returns they are, in fact, a leading indicator of increased shareholder value. Further, we found that superior HR management leads financial performance to a much greater extent than financial outcomes lead good HR." (Watson Wyatt)

HIPAA, COBRA, Cash Balance Plans Included In Six-Month Agenda For DOL and PBGC
The Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation have issued their semiannual regulatory agendas. The agendas, both of which appeared in the May 13 Federal Register, set forth when proposed rules are scheduled to be issued and when final action is expected on proposed regulations. (Spencernet)

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
Flex Plan Services Manager for Pension Specialists, Inc.
in CA
Pension Marketing & Consulting for Simpkins & Associates
in TX

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Assessing Retiree Health Legacy Costs: Is America Prepared for a Healthy Retirement? on May 16, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org

Newly Posted Press Releases
Still River Retirement Planning Software, Inc. Introduces "RMD Compliance Plus (TM)" for Mandatory Calculation and Reporting of Required Minimum Distribution Amounts for IRA Account Holders (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.