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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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June 5, 2002 - 6,419 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)


   ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans is an authoritative
   resource for employers, administrators and advisors. Written by
   leading employee benefits attorneys, this manual has all the
   information you need to bring your welfare benefit plans into
   compliance with ERISA.

   Click on the link to learn more about this valuable treatise,
   which is always kept current through periodic updates.

(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)

HMO Premiums Could Increase Up to 22% in 2003, Survey Indicates
Excerpt: "Many employers will face 'steep' increases in health insurance premium rates in 2003 and will likely require employees to cover a large portion of the added cost, according to a national survey released June 4, the Hartford Courant reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Qwest Retirees Fail In Bid To Require Shareholder Approval for Executive Severance Pay Packages
Excerpt: "Only 27 percent of Qwest's shares were cast in support of a proposal that would have required shareholder approval of severance packages for top executives. About 39 percent of the shares backed another proposal which said that growth in the value of the company's pension fund should not be a factor in calculating executive bonuses." (StarTribune.com)

Unhealthy Coverage: Shady Health Plans Becoming Problem in Indiana
Excerpt: "The culprit: so-called multiple-employer welfare associations. The special plans are a legitimate niche business for firms or groups that want to self-fund their health coverage, but they've also become a way for shady operators to rip people off ... Operators set up unlicensed or loosely regulated 'self-funded' health plans and lure customers with low premiums. Then they delay or deny claim payouts, pocket millions of dollars in premiums, stash the gains and steal away ..." (The Indianapolis Star)

10th Circuit: Claim Under Wyoming Bad Faith Tort Law Preempted by ERISA
Excerpt: "Because there is no question that the tort of insurance bad faith 'relates to' ... an ERISA-regulated employee benefit plan, Moffett's state law claim for bad faith is preempted unless exempted from preemption by the saving clause.... Moffett argues that the Wyoming law of bad faith insurance regulates insurance so as to escape ERISA's preemption clause. We agree with the district court that it does not." (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit via Findlaw.com)

Claims for Privacy Violations Against Employer and Disability Plan TPA Survive ERISA Preemption
Darcangelo v. Verizon Communications (No. 01-1679, 4th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "The remaining four claims, relating to the confidentiality of medical records, unfair trade practices, privacy, and negligence, cannot be disposed of on preemption grounds at the motion to dismiss stage. This is because the complaint, in setting forth these four claims, charges [CORE, the third-party administrator of Verizon's disability plan,] with conduct that is entirely unrelated to its duties under the ERISA plan." (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit via Findlaw.com)

Overview: Settlement Reached in Erie County ADEA Case
Excerpt: "In the settlement, the county paid the older retirees approximately the amount they had paid for their Medicare Part B premiums over a three-year period, and reduced the retiree health benefits offered to younger retirees.... Employers in the Third Circuit -- Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- still face the same litigation risks that existed before the settlement. The Third Circuit's position remains the same: the ADEA applies to retirees." (Watson Wyatt)

Commentary: Some Executives Receiving Lovely Parting Gifts in Form of Sweetheart Severance Pay
Excerpt: "After more than a decade of munificent salary-and-stock packages, many of America's corporate chieftains are departing with big retirement packages, provoking anger among some worker and shareholder activists.... Early last month, about 56 percent of shareholders at Norfolk Southern Corp. voted that the board should seek shareholder approval for all executive severance packages." (Washington Post)

Landmark Case Provides FICA Tax Refund Opportunity
Excerpt: "In CSX Corp. v. U.S., a Court of Federal Claims recently held that certain Supplemental Unemployment Compensation payments are not FICA wages. This is an important decision, because employers that downsized and paid supplemental unemployment compensation in 1999 or later most likely treated those payments as FICA wages and paid FICA taxes. These employers should consider filing for a FICA refund." (Watson Wyatt)

Appointing Conferees on Patients' Rights Could Prompt Filibuster, Daschle Says
Excerpt: "Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on June 4 said that a motion to appoint Senate conferees to negotiate an agreement with the House on 'long-stalled' patients' rights legislation could lead to a filibuster, CongressDaily/AM reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Opinion: Only a Fool Pays More for a Brand Name Drug
Excerpt: "The problem is not with the advertisers but with consumers. They've broken the social contract by turning off their brains. Should we force drug companies to include in their ads the phrase, 'A generic drug is available at a much lower cost'?" (The Baltimore Sun)

Analysts Ponder, 'Who Will Pay for Health Care?'
Excerpt: "Health care experts convening at the 2002 National Managed Health Care Congress in Baltimore, Md., expressed varying degrees of confidence in the ability of 'consumer-driven' health plans to tackle systemic health delivery problems associated with rising costs, access restrictions, and quality concerns." (BenefitNews.com)

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

Analysis: California Law Restricts Use and Communication of Social Security Numbers
Excerpt: "The law goes into effect July 1, 2002, and will change the way employers use SSNs, including in employee benefit plan transactions. Other states, including Arizona, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Ohio and Vermont, are considering similar or identical legislation." (Watson Wyatt)

Executive Compensation and Benefits: Understanding Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans (PDF)
13 pages. Excerpt: "In the following pages, we will discuss how deferral plans and, more specifically, nonqualified deferred compensation plans work. We will discuss the various types of available plans and establish the standards for best practices. We will give you an easy-to-follow, seven-step process for successful plan design. And, we will discuss options for securing and funding the plan you ultimately choose." (Clark/Bardes Consulting-Compensation Resource Group)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
401(k) /Pension Administrator for Great Lakes Pension Administrators, Inc.
in MI
Benefits Claims Coordinator for Chicago Transit Authority
in IL
Senior Pension Administrator for RAI
in DC
Assistant Fund Manager - Employee Benefits for Major National Taft-Hartley, Multiemployer Benefits Fund Organization
in AL
Manager of Qualified Plans for International Chemical Company - US HQ location
in TX

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Fundamentals of Qualified Plans Seminar (3-day program) 11 Locations; June-July in CA, CO, DC, IA, IL, MI, MN, MO, NE, NY, OH, TX, WI on June 6, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel
403(b)/457 Plan Workshop (1-day program) 16 Locations; June and Julyin CA, CO, DC, GA, IA, IL, MN, MO, NE, NY, PA, TX, UT, WA, WI on June 6, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel
Fundamentals of Qualified Plans (3-day program) 7 Locations; September - Octoberin CA, GA, MA, NC, PA, WA on September 18, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel
ERISA Workshop (1-day program) 37 Locations; September - Novemberin CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, TX, WA, WI on September 19, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel
The Benefit Managers' Forum on College Savings Plansin MA on September 23, 2002
presented by Financial Research Associates, LLC
Company Stock in 401(k) Plans: Practical Ways to Minimize the Risk - Teleweb Seminarin ALL STATES on June 20, 2002
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

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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.