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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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July 1, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
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Texas Jury Awards First Damages Under State Law Allowing Residents To Sue HMOs
Excerpt: "A Dallas County jury on June 28 ordered Cigna Healthcare of Texas to pay $13 million in damages to the family of a Texas man who died after the HMO 'forced him out' of a skilled nursing facility, marking the first jury award allowed under the state's patients' rights law, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Supreme Court to Review Whether States Can Be Sued for FMLA Violation
Excerpt: "If the court follows recent example it could place off limits for state workers some or all the guarantees of leave that the law set out." (AP via FindLaw.com)

Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program Kicks Off Today
Excerpt: "employees, military personnel, retirees and many family members will be able to sign up for government-sponsored long-term care insurance during an open season that starts Monday and runs through Dec. 31. Through the insurance program, about 9 million federal employees, military personnel, retirees and their family members can get coverage for nursing home stays and other types of day-to-day care for chronic illnesses or disabilities." (GovExec.com)

What Is Left To File for a Component Health FSA Under the Cafeteria Plan?
Excerpt: "Confusion about the IRS's suspension of the Code Section 6039D filing requirement for cafeteria plans is widespread, so you are in good company.... What's left to file? The short answer is that, except for governmental and church employers, all large health FSAs (with more than 100 covered participants) and all small health FSAs that are 'funded' must, at a minimum, file the main body of the Form 5500. Schedule F is no longer required." (EBIA Weekly (Question of the Week))

For An Employer That's Also Plan Administrator, What's the Deadline for Providing a COBRA Election?
Excerpt: "Is it true that we have only 14 days to send election notices for these qualifying events because our company is both the employer and the administrator of the plan?" (EBIA Weekly (Question of the Week))

Erie County Settlement Unsettling (PDF)
Excerpt: "Employers that sponsor retiree health plans will glean little guidance from the settlement reached in a closely watched Pennsylvania case involving a challenge under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)." (Milliman USA)

Text of Calif. Supreme Court Opinion That Calif. Law Doesn't Prohibit Age Discrimination in Benefits (PDF)
Excerpt: "After a thorough review of the relevant statutory provisions, we conclude, as did both the trial court and the Court of Appeal, that the FEHA's prohibition against age discrimination in employment extends to hiring, discharging, suspension, and demotion, but not to the furnishing of employee benefits such as educational assistance." (Supreme Court of California)

Opinion: Supreme Court Opinion Means Better Medical Decisions, Not Higher Costs
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court ruled this month that states had the right to insist on an independent review for patients whose managed health care plans refused to pay for a treatment or drug prescribed by their doctor.... Robert D. Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute ... spoke last Thursday about the ruling." (New York Times; free registration required)

Supreme Court Agrees to Review State Prescription Drug Price Laws, More HMO Regulations
Excerpt: "In a case being closely watched in state capitals around the country, the court will review a program enacted by the Maine legislature in 2000 that would provide about 325,000 uninsured residents with prescription drug discounts negotiated with drug manufacturers. The second case involves a Kentucky law that requires HMOs to accept as part of their network any doctor or other health care provider in their geographic area who agrees to the HMO's contract terms." (Washington Post)

Minnesota Senator's Bill Federal Same-Sex Benefits
Excerpt: "Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., introduced legislation Thursday to extend health, retirement and life insurance benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.... The bill's introduction comes on the heels of a new law allowing domestic partners of firefighters and police officers who die in service to be paid federal death benefits. President Bush signed the bill this week." (StarTribune.com)

Talking Testosterone: Health Plan Coverage for Male Menopause (PDF)
Excerpt: "Dr. Jerald Bain has lots of experience treating grumpy male executives. He says these aging individuals become increasingly irritable and develop problems working with fellow employees. Those symptoms-- along with a gradual onset of depression, a decrease in bone density, muscle mass and brain functioning as well as a lagging libido and erectile dysfunction-- are all part of a little-known condition called andropause." (Benefits Canada)

Options for Health Plan Choice (PDF)
Begins on page 5. Excerpt: "This article examines the 'traditional' and consumer-driven health plan choices offered by employers, and provides some insights for employers in evaluating the costs of the new innovations in DC health plan designs." (Milliman USA)

Health Care Privacy: What Employers Need To Know
Excerpt: "The law reaches employers indirectly through their health plans. By October, every employer that sponsors a health plan must learn enough about HIPAA to make informed decisions about its plan. The heart of HIPAA is the 'privacy rule,' with a laudable goal-- protect the confidentiality of health care information that can identify individuals (protected health information, or PHI)." (Washington Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

New Legislation Would Extend Health Benefits to New York's Sole Proprietors
Excerpt: "Sole proprietors soon will be able to buy health insurance and do so at more affordable rates thanks to legislation that is expected to be signed by the governor. The smallest of small businesses had been shut out of purchasing coverage at premiums larger businesses pay because they are a high-cost group for insurers." (Business First of Buffalo via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

More Drug Pricing Litigations by State Attorneys General Likely
Excerpt: "The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has created a pharmaceutical pricing task force in the wake of several lawsuits by AGs taking aim at the prices branded drug companies charge for their products." (Washington Drug Letter via BAM Coalition)

Hatch-Waxman Reform Shifts Into High Gear in Debate
Excerpt: "Soaring prescription drug costs have drawn attention to federal regulations that govern drug development and marketing, and which affect the prices consumers pay for medicines. The most significant of these laws now being debated is the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Act." (Food & Drug Letter via BAM Coalition)

Opinion: What is the Role of Federal Government in Healthcare Reform?
Excerpt: "Healthcare costs are rising again, at double-digit rates. What role, if any, should the federal government play in helping to reduce the cost of healthcare? Dr. Quentin Young, M.D., National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, responds ..." (BCBSHealthIssues.com)

AARP Says House Prescription Drug Bill Offers Skimpy Benefits To Seniors
Excerpt: "Consumers Union (CU) has found that the bill -- H.R. 4954, the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act-- offers skimpy benefits that do not provide adequate help to seniors who are struggling with prescription drug costs. CU says the bill's dependence on voluntary participation in the private insurance market renders it fatally flawed." (ConsumersUnion.org)

Patients Testify In Support of Legislation for 'Continuity of Care' When HMOs Terminate Contracts
Press release. Excerpt: "The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is engaging in a final push to guarantee that patients do not lose access to their physicians or face disruptions in their health services when their insurers change networks." (ConsumerWatchdog.org)

Many Baby Boomers Considering But Not Buying Long-Term Care Insurance
Although more of the nation's 76 million baby boomers -- who represent a 'huge potential market' for long-term care as they age -- have begun to consider long-term care insurance, 'most aren't rushing to buy,' the AP/Columbus Dispatch reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

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

Lavished With Stock Options and Loans, Executives Went for the Quick Bucks Last Year
Excerpt: "[I]n the wake of Enron's collapse and revelations that other companies hit by accounting scandals lavished options and multimillion dollar loans on their executives, experts are now questioning the compensation practices. They say it appears many executives based their business decisions on how they could quickly build, and then protect, their own personal fortunes-- and cared less about the long term growth and profitability of their companies." (AP via Yahoo! News)

Remaining CEOs Make a Break for It; Head for Mexico
Excerpt: "Unwilling to wait for their eventual indictments, the 10,000 remaining CEOs of public U.S. companies made a break for it yesterday, heading for the Mexican border, plundering towns and villages along the way, and writing the entire rampage off as a marketing expense." (SatireWire.com)

ERIC Wins Moratorium Extension on FICA, FUTA Taxation of Stock Options
Excerpt: "In a significant victory for The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) and its members, the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service today announced they will not collect payroll taxes on the purchase or sale of stock options under employer-sponsored statutory stock option plans for the foreseeable future." (ERISA Industry Council)

Groom Law Group Plays Key Role in ESPP/ISO Employment Tax Moratorium
Press release. Excerpt: "Over the last several years, a team of attorneys from Groom Law Group -- including Lou Mazawey, Mike Thrasher, Brigen Winters and Liz Dold -- has played a key supporting role in efforts by business groups and high-tech companies to prevent employment taxes from being imposed on qualified employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) and incentive stock option (ISO) (collectively, statutory stock options) transactions." (Groom Law Group)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Marketing Consultant (Conversion & Case Management) for WESPAC Plan Services, Inc.
in CA
Contribution Calcs/Compliance Supervisor for Associated Pension Consultants - Third Party Administrator
in CA
New Business Implementation positions for Northern Trust Retirement Consulting, L.L.C.
in GA
Consulting Actuary for Large, Independent Benefits Consulting and Trust Company
in TX
Trust Participant Record Keeping Officer for First Virginia Banks, Inc.
in VA

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
NTSAA Educational & Legislative Symposiumin TX on July 12, 2002
presented by National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association
NTSAA Educational & Legislative Symposiumin PA on July 19, 2002
presented by National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association
NTSAA Educational & Legislative Symposiumin MA on July 23, 2002
presented by National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association
NTSAA Educational & Legislative Symposiumin CA on August 2, 2002
presented by National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association
NTSAA Educational & Legislative Symposiumin IL on August 13, 2002
presented by National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association

Newly Posted Press Releases
Healing Environments press release, natural designs (Light Years2)

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