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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 1, 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 Kills Plan for Drug Benefits Through Medicare
Excerpt: "The Senate today killed legislation to provide prescription drug benefits promised to the elderly by politicians of both parties. But it overwhelmingly passed a bill intended to give all Americans greater access to low-cost generic versions of brand-name medicines." (New York Times; free registration required)

Pennsylvania District Court Judge OKs Bad Faith Claim Against Long-Term Disability Carrier
Excerpt: "Senior US District Judge Clarence Newcomer ruled that ERISA does not pre-empt a legal claim filed under Pennsylvania's bad-faith statute by plaintiff Joel Rosenbaum challenging the denial of long-term disability benefits. Newcomer said his decision was despite the fact that he and other federal jurists in his district had repeatedly ruled in other cases that claims under the Pennsylvania statute were pre-empted by ERISA." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

Employer Priorities Shift As Families Demand More Time
Excerpt: "Employees making greater demands for work/life balance are increasingly willing to forgo perks, pay and even job security in exchange for more time with family and friends." (BenefitNews.com)

URAC Amends Standards In Response To DOL Requirements
URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission, recently announced several changes to its Health Utilization Management (UM) Standards to ensure consistency with the Department of Labor's new claims procedure regulations. The DOL rules make significant changes in health care claims procedures. (Spencernet)

Estimate: 30% of Health Spending is Wasted
Excerpt: "A combination of administrative inefficiencies, overuse and misuse of medical services wastes 30 cents of every dollar spent on health care, according to new research from the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH)." (BenefitNews.com)

Text of ERIC Letter to Senators Opposing Mandatory Contraceptive Coverage Under Federal Law (PDF)
Excerpt: "During the expected Senate HELP Committee markup of the 'Safe Motherhood Act for Research and Treatment' (S. 2328), an amendment may be offered based on S.104, the 'Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 2001' (EPICC). Unless it is substantially revised, this legislation poses harsh consequences for participants in employer-sponsored health plans." (ERISA Industry Council)

U.S. Workers Seek More Work/Life Balance
Excerpt: "In a recent poll of HR professionals ... 66 percent of those surveyed indicated they had seen a rise in the request for flexible work schedules during the last 12 months." (SmartPros.com)

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

Improved Search Engine on BenefitsLink Lets You Ignore Message Boards
Acting on a reader's suggestion, we have improved the search engine for the BenefitsLink website. Now you can choose to ignore the message boards when searching; note the new 'radio button' at the top of the left-hand navigation bar. (Although the message boards contain a great deal of useful content in the form of online discussions by benefits practitioners, sometimes they get in the way of searches for source documents.) (BenefitsLink)

FASB's Plans Regarding Accounting for Employee Stock Options
Press release. Excerpt: "[The Financial Accounting Standards Board] plans to issue an Invitation to Comment summarizing the IASB's proposals and explaining the key differences between its provisions and current U.S. accounting standards. The FASB will then consider whether it should propose any changes to the U.S. standards on accounting for stock-based compensation." (Business Wire via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Some in Silicon Valley Are Breaking Ranks on Expensing of Stock Options
Excerpt: "Amazon.com defected first, last week. Iomega Corp., which makes data-storage devices, came next. The most recent defection came Monday, from the software maker Computer Associates International Inc. Under pressure from scandal-weary investors clamoring for more accurate numbers in corporate financial statements, the three high-tech concerns decided to begin listing their employee stock options as business expenses against profits, even though no regulations compel them to." (Boston Globe)

General Electric Becomes Latest High-Powered Company To Expense Stock Options
Excerpt: "GE said it will expense the fair value of employee stock options starting this quarter. The move will reduce this year's net income by less than $30 million, or less than 1 cent per share.... GE will implement a holding period on stock option exercises for 22 senior officers, who will be required to purchase GE stock with option gains and hold that stock for at least one year." (AP via NJ.com)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Defned Contribution Plan Administrator for Pension Works, Inc.
in VT
Retirement Plan Administrator for Pension Consulting Services, Inc.
in NJ
Data Processing Manager for Established ERISA TPA Firm Needs Motivated Self-Starter
in TX

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Practical Tips on Distribution Procedures Webcast on August 15, 2002
presented by ASPA

Newly Posted Press Releases
NAGDCA Announces 2002 Leadership Recognition Award Recipients (National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators, Inc.)

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