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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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June 18, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
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House G.O.P. Offers Bill for Drug Payments for the Elderly
Excerpt: "House Republicans today displayed a final version of their bill to provide prescription drug benefits to the elderly. They promised to secure approval by the full House in 10 days. Democrats objected, saying the elderly needed more extensive coverage." (New York Times; free registration required)

Aetna Urges More Use of Genetic Tests, Backs Federal Law Prohibiting Discrimination Using Results
Excerpt: "Aetna sees health and cost-savings benefits in genetic testing, but faces longstanding distrust from some consumers and consumer advocates in promoting the cause. Though Aetna, CIGNA, Health Net and many other insurers already cover genetic tests and counseling under certain circumstances, some consumers are reluctant to get tested because they fear bias in insurance and employment." (The Hartford Courant)

Trade Association for Small Employers Says Survey Results Point to Need for Association Health Plans
Excerpt: "Almost eight in 10 (78 percent) say they would participate in an AHP if they received group purchase price breaks. Three in four would be motivated to participate in such plans if they were able to have more choice in benefits, or if participation would lessen paperwork and administrative burden." (National Association for the Self-Employed)

Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield Publishes Generic Drug Price Information Online
Excerpt: "As part of a broad campaign to raise awareness about the value of generic drugs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is publishing on its Web site the prices of the 25 most common brandname drugs and their generic counterparts." (Medscape; free registration required)

EEOC To Reverse Course On Retiree Health Plans
Excerpt: "Employers that provide less-generous health care benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees than to younger ones are about to get a nod of approval from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). [T]he EEOC later this year will make it clear that employers do NOT violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) if they reduce health benefits for retirees when the former employees become eligible for Medicare at age 65." (Kiplinger via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

UCLA Study: Health Insurance Rate Hikes Expected in 2003
Excerpt: "[A] new national survey by UCLA shows that many employers are expecting rate hikes of 20% or more and are preparing to make substantial changes in health plans to shift more of the burden of rising premiums to workers.... UCLA's findings are consistent with other recent reports from consultants that suggest health care will be even more costly for employers than previously expected." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

Insurance Commissioners Vote to Eliminate Discretionary Clauses in Health Insurance Contracts
Press release. Excerpt: "The clauses allow employers to give their health plans discretionary authority to make benefit determinations on their behalf. Insurance commissioners see discretionary clauses as an effort to give an insurance company full and final discretion in interpreting benefits and administering an insurance contract, according to Maryland Insurance Commissioner Steve Larsen ..." (BestWire via Hoover's Online)

Transcript of Conference on How Market Analysts Perceive Changes Underway in Healthcare System
Excerpt: "The perspectives of these analysts have been valuable to those in the policy world who are concerned not about the financial prospects of companies, but about those market developments that have implications for the public and for particular stakeholders who have influence on health care policy." (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Online Action Center Launched: FairDrugPrices.org
Press release. Excerpt: "Through this Web site, consumers will be able to send a letter to their member of Congress urging them to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, sign an online petition, and share their personal stories about struggling to afford their prescription drugs." (Families USA)

Kennedy Expected To Outline His Proposals for Democrats' Health Agenda
Excerpt: "Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on June 18 plans to 'put universal health care back at the top of the national agenda' during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in which he will outline a series of health reform proposals, the Boston Herald reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Opinion: No Health Insurance Coverage, No Homeland Security
Excerpt: "Not having coverage -- or being inadequately insured -- is a growing public health problem. An estimated 18,000 people a year die because they lack health insurance and don't get needed, timely care, concluded a recent report by the Institute of Medicine. The review demolishes the myth that if you don't have insurance, you can still get just-as-good care at public clinics and emergency rooms." (Abigail Trafford in the Washington Post)

More Than 13,000 Requests For Extension of HIPAA Deadline Go To CMS
In the two months since it issued its Model Compliance Form For Electronic Health Care Transactions, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already received more than 13,000 requests for an additional year to comply with HIPAA rules on electronic transactions and code sets. (Spencernet)

Opinion: Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Legislation Unlikely To Become Law
Excerpt: "Although three versions of a Medicare prescription drug benefit are being considered in Congress, 'none of the bills stands a chance of ever passing into law,' Congressional Quarterly senior reporter Samuel Goldreich says in this week's 'Congressional Quarterly Weekly Audio Report' ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Opinion: Politicians on Drugs
Excerpt: "[T]he Senate Democrats have a [Medicare prescription drug coverage] plan that can be criticized but is definitely workable. The House Republicans, by contrast, have a plan that would quickly turn into a fiasco - but not, of course, until after the next election." (Paul Krugman in the New York Times; free registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General
(These items appear in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

Overview: NYSE and Nasdaq Address Compensation-Related Corporate Governance Issues (PDF)
Excerpt: "Over the last several weeks, both the Nasdaq Stock Market and the New York Stock Exchange released comprehensive proposals intended to modify and tighten existing corporate governance standards. These proposals address a variety of governance issues, including several compensation-related items." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Opinion: Can CalPERS Afford to Throw Stones on Corporate Governance Issues?
Excerpt: "The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) earns its reputation as the world's corporate governance bulldog.... Now, the $149 billion fund may need a dose of its own medicine. CalPERS, which has 1.3 million beneficiaries among current or former state employees, has developed a rash of governance problems." (Business Week)

CalPERS Delays Action on Corporate Governance Policy on Expensing of Stock Options
Excerpt: "[T]he biggest U.S. pension fund ... postponed action on a recommendation from its staff that would compel companies to deduct the cost of employee stock options from earnings. Citing arguments from technology companies that there is no standard methodology for valuing options, the fund's directors asked the staff to develop alternative stock-option disclosure practices." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

IRS Liberalizes Options For Valuing Stock Options For Purposes of Secs. 280G, 4999
In Rev. Proc. 2002-45, the Internal Revenue Service provides additional guidance on valuing stock options for both publicly traded and nonpublicly traded stock for purposes of IRC Secs. 280G and 4999. The revenue procedure modifies Rev. Proc. 2002-13, I.R.B. 2002-8, 549. (Spencernet)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Senior Defined Benefit Analyst for Towers Perrin
in MA
Market Manager, Defined Contribution for New York Life Benefit Services LLC
in MA
Benefits Paralegal/ERISA Specialist for Florida Power & Light Company
in FL
Officer - Retirement Plans Administration for Security Benefit Group of Companies
in KS
Pension Analyst for Long Island Employee Benefits Group Ltd.
in NY

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
The AFP 23rd Annual Conferencein LA on November 3, 2002
presented by Association for Financial Professionals
Consumer-Driven Health Benefitsin CA on August 8, 2002
presented by Employee Benefit News
Consumer-Driven Health Benefitsin WA on August 13, 2002
presented by Employee Benefit News

Newly Posted Press Releases
Clark/Bardes Consulting Announces Creation of Human Capital Practice (Ashton Partners)

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