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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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May 30, 2002 - 6,419 subscribers
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Retiree Health Benefits: Examples of Employer-Reported Obligations in Selected Industries
GAO Report GAO-02-639R; 5 pages. Excerpt: "[Y]ou asked us to provide examples, based on readily available data, of employers' estimates of their future financial obligations for retiree health benefits, particularly in industries that have reported high obligations for these benefits such as airlines, automotive manufacturing, and steel/metal." (U.S. General Accounting Office)

CMS Announces Employer Identifier for HIPAA Transactions: Tax EIN
Excerpt: "The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced the adoption of the Employer Identification Number (EIN) as the standard unique identifier for employers in the filing and processing of health care claims and other transactions. The standard unique identifier, mandated by [HIPAA], will help eliminate paperwork, simplify activities such as enrollment in health plans and payment of health insurance premiums and save money overall." (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

AARP Enters Three Federal Lawsuits to Bring Lower-Priced Drugs to Consumers
Press release. Excerpt: "AARP CEO Bill Novelli announced that the organization's attorneys will serve as co-counsel in three lawsuits that involve charges of patent abuse, suppression of generic competition and collusive agreements with generic manufacturers." (AARP)

Court Authorizes ERISA Claim For Constructive Trust Where Funds Are Identifiable, Traceable
Mills Companies Employee Welfare Benefit Trust, Case No. 02-C-032-S (W.D. Wis. May 14, 2002). Excerpt: "The plan filed an action under ERISA to recover the amount of medical benefits paid on behalf of [Russ, the plan participant] out of his third-party settlement. The plan alleged claims for relief in equity, including a constructive trust upon the funds being held by Russ's attorney in a client trust account." (John M. Russell, Esq.)

Baby, You Can Drive THEIR Car
Excerpt: " A staple of European urban planning, carsharing has finally arrived in the United States.... Many businesses have formed partnerships with the car sharing providers. Some businesses use the cars as an alternative to owning and maintaining their own fleet of company cars and others offer the service as an employee benefit." (Society for Human Resource Management)

How Life Insurance Taken on Rank-and-File Staff Funds Employer Programs
Excerpt: "[M]any states and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an association of state regulators that devises model laws and rules that states can copy, concluded several years ago that COLI and related insurance structures 'are attractive methods of financing liabilities such as an employer's obligations under a retiree health benefit plan.' Some states have placed restrictions on broad-based COLI policies, but most allow them." (Washington Post)

Overview: EEOC to Propose ADEA Exemption for Retiree Health Coverage
May 29, 2002 issue of Capital Checkup. Excerpt: "In its recently published Semiannual Regulatory Agenda, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced its intention to propose a regulation on the coordination of retiree health benefits with Medicare ... The EEOC expects to propose the regulation on by December 2002." (The Segal Company)

North Carolina Health Insurer Drops Coverage for Members of Professional Associations
Excerpt: "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is dropping coverage for professional associations -- a market the state's largest health insurer says it can't make enough money on -- forcing nearly 11,000 lawyers, architects and ministers to find new insurance." (Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via the Society for Human Resource Management)

As Costs Soar, So Does Desire for Latest Drugs
Excerpt: "An explosion in provocative advertising promises patients happier and longer lives if they buy the new and improved prescriptions. And those promises are spurring drug and overall healthcare costs to grow at double-digit rates, posing difficult problems for health plans, insurance companies and employers." (The Dallas Morning News via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Senate Leader Campaigns for Patients' Bill of Rights
Excerpt: "Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle cuddled a baby for the cameras Tuesday, not for a campaign photo, but to push for a national patients' bill of rights, now stalled in negotiations between the Senate and the White House." (The Mercury News via BayArea.com)

HMO Enrollment Continues To Decline
Total HMO enrollment continues to decline, though that rate of decline appears to be slowing, says the recently released HMO Industry Report 12.1, Part II of the InterStudy Competitive Edge series published by InterStudy Publications. (Spencernet)

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


Auditors Should Alert Plan Administrators if Financial Institution Certifications Not in Order
Information Letter issued May 17, 2002 to Richard M. Steinberg. Excerpt: "[W]e believe accountants should, as part of their audit engagement, review certifications and notify plan administrators of potential problems with a certification when, as in cases such as those presented in your letter, there may be a question as to whether the furnished certification provides an appropriate basis on which the administrator may limit the scope of the plan's audit ..." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

Analysis: IRS Issues Guidance on Income Tax Aspects of Transfer of Stock Option in Divorce
Excerpt: "Basically, IRS is taking the position that there are no immediate tax, withholding, or reporting consequences when employees transfer their interests in nonstatutory stock options and nonqualified deferred compensation to their former spouses incident to a divorce. However, the employee's former spouse (the 'transferee') must recognize income when he/she exercises the options and/or when the deferred compensation is paid or made available to him/her." (Deloitte & Touche)




Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Benefits Manager for CPI
in Location Other Than U.S., PA, TX
Employee Benefits Customer Service Representative for L/B/W Insurance & Financial Services, Inc.
in CA
Paralegal for Wachovia/First Union Corporation
in NC



Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
How to Avoid 401 (k) Meltdownin NY on July 18, 2002
presented by Employee Benefit News
How to Avoid 401 (k) Meltdownin IL on July 25, 2002
presented by Employee Benefit News
Winning Strategies for Employee Healthcare Cost Containmentin AZ on September 23, 2002
presented by IQPC



Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)
Groundbreaking Syndicated Study on DC Retirement Advisor Satisfaction to be Released (401kExchange.com)

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.