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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 6, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
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Once Golden, Drug Firms Under Assault
Excerpt: "The industry is under tremendous pressures that experts say are likely to transform it in the coming decade and perhaps even alter the flow of new drugs to the marketplace." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

Overview: HIPAA Privacy Compliance Concerns for Employer-Sponsored Health Plans
Excerpt: "The following frequently asked questions provide a general overview of how HIPAA's privacy requirements will impact your company's health plan operations and business operations." (Haynes and Boone LLP)

One Law Firm's Approach to HIPAA Privacy Compliance for Employers
2 pages. Excerpt: "Haynes and Boone, LLP's HIPAA Privacy Practice Group has designed a process specifically for employers who maintain health plans for their employees. This process offers the employer the opportunity to determine how much of the compliance work they are able to do themselves with existing personnel, and who should be retained to do the balance of the work required for compliance." (Haynes and Boone LLP)

LTC Insurance for Federal Employees Won't Deny Coverage for People with Certain Skin Cancers
Excerpt: "The Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program will not deny coverage to individuals diagnosed or treated for basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, Office of Personnel Management officials said, the Washington Post reports.... However, the program will not provide coverage to individuals with other cancers, such as melanoma, the Post reports. Each year, doctors diagnose more than one million Americans will basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Commentary: Federal Judge Rules HMOs Must Fork Over Internal Documents
Excerpt: "While [the judge] dismissed RICO and federal and state prompt pay violation charges, he ruled that [ERISA] does not preempt the doctors' claims that the insurers breached their contracts with them [allegedly] by systematically reducing, delaying, and denying payments and reimbursements to providers by routinely 'downcoding' claims submitted by doctors to reduce payments, and by concealing business practices such as offering incentives to doctors to limit their patients' medical care." (insure.com)

Health Services Provider Could Not Pursue ERISA Claim For Payment As An "Assignee"
A health services provider could not pursue an action under ERISA seeking payment of a claim from a health care plan as the 'assignee' of a plan beneficiary. This was the ruling of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in LeTourneau Lifelike Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., et al. (No. 01-40995). (Spencernet)

Momentum Increasing for State Laws Mandating Paid Family Leave for Employees
Excerpt: "23 states are considering dramatically expanding paid leave to ensure that most workers continue to get paychecks when they take time off for situations such as caring for a new child or an ill family member. One bill, in California, has gotten farther than any before." (The Christian Science Monitor via Society for Human Resource Management)

Overview: USERRA Requires Military Service Time to Be Counted Toward FMLA Eligibility
Excerpt: "[T]he DOL interprets USERRA to mean that an individual who was called to active duty and then returns to work within the timeframe required by USERRA at the end of a military leave should have this active duty time counted towards his or her eligibility to take time off from work under the FMLA." (EBIA Weekly)

Banking on a 529 Plan
Excerpt: "As 529 plans continue to catch on among savers--assets doubled last year and could triple to about $50 billion by 2005--and as the plans gain appeal among employers as a low-cost employee benefit, they'll become another focus for HR.... The employer's role in setting up a 529 plan is to choose carefully from the dozens offered, set up payroll deductions and educate employees on how 529s work." (HR Magazine)

CMS Amends Opt-Out Regulations for Non-Federal Governmental Plans
Excerpt: "Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has just released interim final rules addressing the circumstances under which non-federal governmental plans may opt out of HIPAA. As background, non-federal governmental plans and health insurance issuers are subject to HIPAA under the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). However, non-federal governmental plans that are self-funded can opt out of all aspects of HIPAA coverage except for the requirement to certify creditable coverage." (EBIA Weekly)

Healthy Workers Decide To Drop Health Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "Skyrocketing health insurance premiums are leading some young, healthy professionals to opt out of employer-sponsored health insurance plans. And that's bad for business, particularly small business.... [B]ecause of rising insurance premiums, employees may be opting out of a plan altogether because they can't afford the policy." (The Business Journal of Jacksonville via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Study: Income Taxes from Baby Boomers' Retirement Distributions Will Help Pay for Healthcare Needs (PDF)
35 pages. Excerpt: "This paper models the extent of the tax dollars being lost by the government today because of QPPs and IRAs, then goes on to project the extra revenue that will accrue to the government from these same pension plans when the baby boomers retire. It then points out that these extra pension income dollars of tax revenue will arrive at exactly the time that the baby boomers will need extra government support to pay for their increased health care delivery." (Robert L. Brown, published by the Society of Actuaries)

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

Employer's Procedures for Distributing SPDs Enough to Prove That Employee Received It
Hunter v. Lockheed Martin Corp. (N.D. Ca. 2002). Excerpt: "[U]nder the terms of the plan, the participant was eligible for benefits only if she submitted a claim within two years of being laid off.... The participant then brought suit, claiming that she had never been provided with a summary plan description (SPD) or any other information about the terms of the disability plan." (EBIA Weekly)

Survey Results: 2001 Board of Directors Profile and Compensation at Nasdaq-100 Companies (PDF)
30 pages. Excerpt: "This report ... presents an analysis of the structure, demographics and compensation for boards of directors of the companies included in the Nasdaq-100 Index as of July 1, 2001." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Planning for the New Shareholder-Approval Requirements for All Equity Grants to Employees (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "[T]he NYSE proposed rule applies to uses of stock under all equity plans, not just stock option plans. Thus, the rule change may apply to restricted stock grants, LTIPs paid out in shares, bonuses paid out in restricted stock, voluntarily deferred stock paid out in actual shares, employee stock purchase plans, equity grants for outside directors, and even small grants of stock to lower-level employees as part of reward/recognition programs." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Compensation Consulting Firms Issues Report on Status of Stock Option Debate (PDF)
Excerpt: "The July 14 announcement by Coca-Cola and subsequent action taken by several other prominent companies to begin expensing the cost of stock options may be one of the most significant developments affecting executive compensation in the last several years. This letter provides background on the 'stock option accounting' issue, a summary of the ongoing debate, and the possible impact on publicly-traded U.S. companies." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Stock Option Accounting: When Honesty is the Most Expensive Policy
Excerpt: "For most of the companies that have agreed to reflect the cost of options, it wasn't a terribly expensive decision, a few pennies a share each year in most cases. But for many technology companies, it could mean the difference between posting a profit or a loss." (TheStreet.com)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Alliance Manager (Bundled Retirement Products) for Bank of America
in NC
Plan Administrator for Florida Pensions, LLC
in FL
VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL SALES for Corporate Benefit Services of America, Inc.
in MN
Retirement Plan Sales Consultant for Invesmart
in TX
Retirement Plan Consultant for Invesmart
in OR
Benefits Manager (Service Delivery Manager) for Towers Perrin
in VA
Plan Administrator for Sample & Bailey, CPAs, PC
in CO

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Health Care Costs and Health Coverage on August 2, 2002
presented by Alliance for Health Reform, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
PenServ's 13th Annual Fall Seminar Seriesin TX on October 1, 2002
presented by PenServ, Inc.

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

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