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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 2, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
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Senate Approves Fast-Track Trade Bill With Provision on Health Benefits for Trade-Displaced Workers
Excerpt: "The bill ... would provide uninsured trade-displaced workers with a refundable tax credit to cover 65% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. The workers could use the tax credits to purchase health insurance through COBRA ... or through state-sponsored insurance purchasing pools and high-risk pools. Secondary workers -- those who lose their jobs because they provide services for American industries affected by international trade -- also would receive the tax credits." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Calif. Lawmakers Plan First Paid Leave Bill in U.S.
Excerpt: "California may soon grant millions of workers the right to paid leave to care for sick family members or a new child under legislation that seeks to make the state the first in the nation to offer such employee benefits." (Forbes.com)

Senators Break Off Talks on Patients' Bill of Rights
Excerpt: "Thursday's decision to break off talks came after months of secretive meetings between White House officials and Senate negotiators. Sen. Edward Kennedy, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, called White House congressional liaison Nicholas Calio to inform him of the Democrats' decision." (AP via Yahoo! News)

Opinion: Medicare Drug Benefits Should Focus on Those Who Cannot Afford the Drugs
Excerpt: "When Congress takes up a drug benefit again, it should keep things simple and concentrate on the risk, approaching a certainty, that it wishes to prevent: people doing without drugs -- or without food -- because of the cost." (Michael Kinsely in the Washington Post)

Policy Trade-Offs in Designing a Medicare Drug Benefit with Limited Resources (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "This policy brief considers how to structure a drug benefit and what trade-offs will need to be made in the context of financial limitations. It discusses three potential approaches, each of which employs a different cost/payment structure and each of which benefits one group while neglecting another ... [We suggest it] is possible to craft a drug benefit that would preserve universal coverage by protecting low-income beneficiaries and placing a cap on high costs." (The Urban Institute)

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

Overview: Retirement and Executive Compensation Provisions in Accounting Reform Legislation (PDF)
Excerpt: "The Act ... contains provisions affecting retirement plans and executive compensation arrangements, including provisions: Requiring advance notice of blackout periods; Prohibiting insider trading of company stock during blackout periods; Increasing the maximum criminal penalties for ERISA violations; and Potentially prohibiting certain split-dollar life insurance arrangements for executive officers and directors." (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

Tax Quotes
Compiled, arranged and copyrighted by Jeffery L. Yablon. Excerpt: "[American tax laws] are constantly changing as our elected representatives seek new ways to ensure that whatever tax advice we receive is incorrect. -- Dave Barry" (Tax Analysts)

Washington Whip Report for August 1, 2002
Excerpt: "With the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (PL 107-204) this past week, it's fair to ask whether Washington's need to take action on corporate reform been satisfied. The clear answer is 'no.' ... Senate Democratic leaders would like to follow the strong bipartisan vote for corporate reforms (OK, 97 to 0 is more than 'strong') with a strong bipartisan showing for 401(k) and employer stock reforms that go further than the House-passed bill (HR 3762)." (Mercer Human Resource Consulting)

General Electric to Require Executives to Hold Some Exercised Stock Option Shares for One Year
Excerpt: "General Electric, the nation's biggest company by stock market value, yesterday joined a small but growing group of companies that are changing how they account for stock options. G.E. went even further by saying that top executives would no longer be allowed to take profits immediately after cashing in options." (New York Times via Yahoo! News)

New York Stock Exchange to Require Shareholder Approval for New Stock Option Programs
Excerpt: "Changes to the NYSE's listing standards had been recommended on June 6 by an NYSE committee on corporate accountability and listing standards, and will now be sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission for final approval. In general, the changes will require NYSE-listed companies to have a majority of independent directors on their boards and to submit all stock-option plans to shareholders for approval." (Dow Jones via Yahoo! News)

Opinion: Microsoft Decision Not to Expense Stock Options Leads One Investor to Sell Its Stock
Excerpt: "It all comes down to an issue of character. In this case the company has failed to maintain the best interests of outside shareowners. By declining to show true leadership on the stock option expensing issue -- which management claims to agree with -- Microsoft no longer meets the criteria of a Rule Maker company." (The Motley Fool)

Untangling the Stock Options Accounting Debate
Excerpt: "The basic issue: Companies can account for the estimated value of options awarded to employees each year in one of two ways: as an expense on their income statement or in a footnote to their annual income statement. The former method decreases reported earnings; the latter does not. So naturally, almost all companies until recently chose the footnote option." (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Administrator - Traditional and Daily Valuation Capable for WESPAC Plan Services, Inc.
in CA
Senior Conversion Specialist for First Trust Corporation
in CO
Technical Specialist - Retirement Ops - Qualified Plan Service Team for Edward Jones
in MO

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