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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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July 10, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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(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)

Senate to Debate Prescription Drug Coverage
Excerpt: "The pace is quickening in the Senate on senior citizens' issues, from a new entry in the Medicare prescription drug sweepstakes to fresh election-year emphasis on access to lower-cost generic medicine. 'We'll be taking up prescription drug legislation next week,' Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Tuesday ..." (New York Times; free registration required)

Retired Steelworkers' Health Benefits in Peril
Excerpt: "Bethlehem Steel Corp. said yesterday that it is in such dire straits that it plans to slash health care benefits for employees and retirees, negotiate a new labor contract and drastically change its pension program in the hopes of getting the company back on solid footing." (The Baltimore Sun)

How to Achieve a Work-Life Balance
Excerpt: "Employees continue to look to their employers to help them achieve a balance between their work and personal lives. A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management has found organizations responding, with increases in the number of employers offering flextime schedules (64% of respondents), telecommuting (37%) and compressed work weeks (33%)." (Employee Benefit News via CareerJournal.com)

Survey: U.S. Healthcare Costs Vary Widely by Region
Excerpt: "Researchers said several factors contribute to the geographic variation, including socioeconomic and demographic differences, access to insurance, degree of managed-care penetration, and diversity in practice patterns.... This is the first time since 1991 that nationwide comparative data has been produced, according to the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]." (Modern Healthcare)

Position Paper: Archer MSAs: a Good Beginning-- a Better Future (PDF)
2 pages. Includes a chart entitled, 'An MSA Comparison: What We Have & What We Need." (Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Opinion: Picking Up the Tab and Hiking Healthcare Costs
Excerpt: "On Capitol Hill, members of Congress are continually jacking up the price Americans pay for health care. They do this by giving away benefits and, in some instances, making people buy unwanted benefits. Mental health parity, a patients' bill of rights, a prescription drug benefit tacked onto Medicare-- the expenses are endless." (Devon Herrick in the Washington Times)

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

Overview: IRS Publishes Proposed Regs on Split-Dollar Life Insurance Arrangements (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "On July 3, 2002, the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, following up on notices issued in 2001 and 2002, issued proposed regulations that provide the most far-reaching guidance ever issued on split-dollar life insurance arrangements. The proposed regulations generally retain the approach of Notice 2002-8, issued in January, but expand the scope of and elaborate on the guidance provided in that Notice." (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

Unsettled Labor Situation Is Hurting UPS; Pension, Health Benefits at Issue
Excerpt: "United Parcel Service Inc., the world's largest package delivery firm, on Wednesday said it was losing business to competitors as labor talks with the Teamsters stretched on with just three weeks remaining in its current contract with 230,000 union workers.... Teamsters spokesman Bret Caldwell said progress had been made but the parties remain 'at a crossroads' over pension and health care benefits." (Reuters via Yahoo! News)

IRS Issues 2002-2003 Priority Guidance Plan Showing EP Rulings and Regs in the Works (PDF)
25 pages; see especially pages 5 and 6. Excerpt: "The published guidance process can be fully successful only if we have the benefit of the insight and experience of the taxpayers and practitioners who must apply the rules. Consequently, we invite the public to continue to provide us with their comments and suggestions as we write guidance throughout the plan year." (Internal Revenue Service)

Reforming Stock Options in the Post-Enron, Post-WorldCom Era
NCEO executive director Corey Rosen discusses the issues surrounding calls for the reform of how compensatory stock options are granted and accounted for. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Pension and 401(k) Manager for Knight Ridder
in CA
Pension Administrator for Karel & Associates, Ltd.
in IL

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Unlocking The Secrets of ERISA Section 404(c)in FL on August 23, 2002
presented by Nova SouthEastern University Communiversity, Fort Lauderdale Florida

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.