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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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June 4, 2002 - 6,419 subscribers
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California Bill Would Expand Family and Medical Leave Rights of Employees
Excerpt: "California is among 26 states this year in which legislators are trying to change the unpaid provision of the [Family and Medical Leave Act] as well as apply it to small employers now exempt from the job guarantee provisions." (The Sacramento Bee via Society for Human Resource Management)

Wisconsin Firms Find Donating Employees' Time Costs Less than Money Contributions
Excerpt: "Nationwide, more than half of 116 companies polled ... in 2001 had a program that allowed employees to volunteer on company time.... Businesses benefit in several ways. They stay visible in philanthropic causes without making an outlay of cash, in precious short supply at many firms. And, perhaps most importantly, those involved say, such programs give a big boost to employee morale." (Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Can Companies Curtail Employee Expenses?
Excerpt: "In a weak economy, bosses are keeping a tighter rein on employee expenses often with electronic assistance. Companies such as Cisco Systems, General Electric, Intel and AOL Time Warner have cut this year's travel budgets, the most costly expense item.... Corporate relocations have plummeted during the downturn, meaning employees might have to pay for part or all of their next move." (CareerJournal.com)

Small Employer Saves Money by Implementing Health Savings Accounts for Employees
Excerpt: "The company puts $1,000 in the personal medical accounts of single workers, and $2,000 in family accounts. The employees use the account money for everyday medical expenses, including prescription drugs. When the limit is reached, the insurance automatically kicks in because the deductibles on the company's policies also are set at $1,000 and $2,000.... Any funds the employees don't use are given to them at the end of the year and taxed as income." (Dayton Daily News via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

85,000 Coloradans Lost Small-Business Health Insurance Last Year
Excerpt: "Rising health care costs and 'skyrocketing' premiums have led to an additional 85,000 uninsured residents in Colorado, who last year were covered under employer-based health plans sponsored by small businesses, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Costly Pain Relievers Often Prescribed When Cheaper, Equally Effective Alternatives Available
Excerpt: "Pain relievers known as Cox-2 inhibitors, such as Vioxx and Celebrex, are 'over-prescribed, overpriced, and an unnecessary expense for health plans,' according to a study released June 3 by the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts Inc., the Washington Post reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Analysis: Individual Disability Policy Is Subject to ERISA Because of Employer Contributions
Brown v. Paul Revere Life Insurance Co. (E.D. Pa. 2002). Excerpt: "We note also that the court relied in part upon the definition of 'group health plan' in the IRS COBRA regulations. These provide: 'a group health plan is maintained by an employer...even if the employer...does not contribute to it if coverage under the plan would not be available at the same cost to an individual but for the individual's employment-related connection to the employer.' Treas. Reg. Sec. 54.4980B-2." (EBIA Weekly)

Analysis: No Fiduciary Breach by Employer Refusing to Lay Off Employee Wanting Severance Benefits
Miller v. Rite Aid Corp. (E.D. Pa. 2002). Excerpt: "[The plaintiff] alleged that his supervisor was a fiduciary who had breached his duty to administer the severance plan solely in the employee's interest by failing to lay him off once senior management had approved his severance. The employer maintained that, in deciding when and if the employee would be laid off, the supervisor was acting as an employer, not as an ERISA fiduciary." (EBIA Weekly)

Analysis: 5th Circuit Bars Declaratory Judgment Action Seeking Reimbursement for Benefit Payments
Bauhaus USA, Inc. v. Copeland (5th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "This is yet another ERISA subrogation/reimbursement case decided since the U.S. Supreme Court's Great-West v. Knudson decision ... The court concludes that ... the action did not seek equitable relief as required by the Supreme Court in Knudson.... In the dissenting judge's view, the court misapplied Knudson. The dissenter maintained that Knudson did not establish a requirement that disputed funds be in the beneficiary's possession." (EBIA Weekly)

Opinion: Bring On the Real Competition for Healthcare
Excerpt: "[A] competitive system with strong cost-control incentives and a level playing field for both consumers and insurance plans does not require extensive regulation.... Refundable tax credits should be enacted to give all non-elderly people a government-financed defined contribution toward the purchase of any health-insurance plan. Families and individuals might wish to voluntarily join a group in order to purchase group health insurance." (Chris Middleton, published by Pacific Research Institute)

Panel Discussed Long-Term Care Insurance on Syndicated PBS Show
Excerpt: "The second hour of WAMU's 'The Diane Rehm Show,' a syndicated NPR program, on June 4 featured a panel discussion on long-term care insurance. Guests included Susan Coronel, long-term care director for the Health Insurance Association of America ... The full segment will be available online in RealPlayer Audio June 4 ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

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

Overview: DOL Issues More Guidance on Claims Procedure Regulations
Excerpt: "[T]he DOL [recently] issued more guidance regarding its new claims procedure regulations. The regulations, first issued in November 2000, became applicable on January 1, 2002 for all plans except group health plans. Group health plans have a later applicability date: the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after July 1, 2002, but not later than January 1, 2003." (EBIA Weekly)

Commentary: Working to Retire Overcompensation
Excerpt: "Shareholders and corporate activists have been complaining for years about runaway executive pay. But in 2002--the year of Enron, E-Trade and Ebbers--the voices for change finally are finding an audience." (Los Angeles Times via Society for Human Resource Management)

Commentary: a Prime Example of Anything-Goes Executive Pay
Excerpt: "Even as a boom in executive pay brought vast wealth to nearly every person running a large American company, L. Dennis Kozlowski still stood out.... Mr. Kozlowski persuaded his board to give him hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of cash, stock and perquisites. Now, with the rapid decline of his reputation, culminating in his departure yesterday as the chief executive of Tyco International, Mr. Kozlowski has come to highlight nearly every controversy surrounding executive pay." (New York Times; free registration required)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Trust Administrator for CNA Trust
in CA
Pension Paralegal for NYC Midtown Consulting Firm
in NY
Employee Benefits Manager for Tektronix
in OR
Pension Administrators for Polycomp Administrative Services, Inc.
in CA
Pension Consultant for The Heintzberger Company
in OR
Senior Benefits Analyst for US Airways
in VA
Account Administrator II for American Express
in MN
Regional Sales Coordinator for Legg Mason Wood Walker, Inc.
in MD

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
HIPAA is Here: Are You Ready?in MD on June 20, 2002
presented by The Baltimore Chapter of ISCEBS
Employee Benefits Conferencein NY on August 13, 2002
presented by New York State Society of CPAs/Foundation for Accounting Education
The Peril of COBRA Penalties, Providing More Coverage Than Intended and Applying the Business Acquisition Rulesin ALL STATES on June 19, 2002
presented by Thompson Publishing Group, Inc.

Newly Posted Press Releases
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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.